After years of talking, Gervonta Davis’ left hand made the loudest statement.
Nearly every break in the fight, the two exchanged words, jawing at each other like they have outside the ring for four years. In nearly every clinch and coming together, the two gave a little extra, needing to be pulled apart
As he entered the ring,took a moment to stop in front of the opposing corner, staring down Rolando Romero and his team as the two needed to be separated. Since 2017, Romero has aggressively called out Davis for this bout, throwing bombastic insults and accusations Davis’ way as he looked to make a name for himself in the division.
In the sixth round, all that discourse came to an end.
A crushing Davis left hand sent Romero to the canvas, and after Romero failed to regain a sturdy gate, the referee stopped the bout, giving Davis the TKO victory Saturday night at Barclays Center.
With the win, Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) retained the WBA lightweight world title. It was Romero’s first loss, putting a dent in his quest to carve out a spot at the top of the division.
A wobbly Romero, never one shy with words, only could stumble his way out of the ring after the devastating hook.
“I knew that I could get into his head, just from when we weighed in,” Davis said. “I knew his goal was to move in front of me [on stage during the weigh in], so when he went in front of me he didn’t realize that the stand was coming to an end, so I just tapped him and he fell.
There were 18,970 fans packed into a sold out Barclays for the arena’s highest-ever attended boxing match. The Baltimore native Davis, who considers New York his “second home,” entered to a roaring reception as “City of Gods” by Alicia Keys blared. It was a who’s who of celebrities on-hand, including new Giants rookies Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal in addition to Michael Strahan, Tracy Morgan, Madonna, and more.
Romero, using his size advantage and perhaps fueled by years waiting for this moment, started fast. He pressured the champion, connecting on several right hooks in the first two rounds and leaving visible damage above Davis’ left eye. In the second, Davis stumbled to the mat after Romero caught him with a left-right combination.
After Davis’ cautious opening approach, he started to turn it on in the fourth and fifth rounds, allowing Romero to step up aggressively, looking to connect with something powerful while leaving himself exposed. After attempting a wild left hand that missed, Davis met a lunging Romero squarely with a lethal hook.
Davis thew significantly less punches — 84 to Romero’s 115, but his 25 connected punches were three more than Romero as his patient strategy worked to perfection.
“He was strong for sure, but it was a couple shots that I was getting warmed up, and he caught me and I was like, ‘I can’t sit with him just yet.’ ” Davis said. “I know when to take it to my opponents and when to chill out. There was someone in the crowd, and they were telling me to press forward and I was like, not yet. I got to loose him up a little more.
“The crazy thing is that I didn’t even throw it that hard. He just ran into it. He just ran into it. Something like when Pacquiao got caught. I didn’t even throw it that hard, and he’s the one who ran into it, when he was talking that it was going to be me.”
Davis — billed as “Boxing’s hottest-young attraction,” — has yet to be challenged or bothered inside the ring. If the parties agree, Davis is in line to fight the winner of the Devin Haney-George Kambosos mega-fight next week in Australia — a bout that would be for the undisputed lightweight title.
The next goal for the pound-for-pound star is to cement his place not just at the top of of the division, but atop boxing’s hierarchy.
“I think it’s here, to be honest,” Davis told The Post before the fight.
If it Davis wasn’t already there before the bout, his thunderous, title-defending KO brings him closer to that goal.
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