ATLANTA – Gervonta Davis stopped Mario Barrios in the 11th round Saturday night to claim the WBA super lightweight title, his third world championship.
Davis (25-0) moved up in weight and won by knockout for the 24th time as a professional. The Baltimore native also holds the WBA lightweight and super featherweight belts.
There was little action through the first half of the fight in front of a sellout crowd of 16,570 at State Farm Arena as Barrios (26-1) and Davis alternated as the aggressor, with the 5-foot-10 Barrios slightly more active.
According to CompuBox, Davis landed just 11 punches over the first four rounds before finding the mark on 85 in the final six-plus rounds.
The 5-5½ Davis made himself hard to hit, with both hands frequently held high.
Barrios threw many more punches (394-296), but Davis connected more frequently (96-93) and effectively, landing 45.1% of his body punches compared to 29.1% for Barrios.
“I’m the type of fighter that wants to catch you with clean shots,” Davis said. “I don’t just want to throw any type of shot. The shots I was throwing were missing, but eventually I caught up with him.”
Davis dropped Barrios twice in the eighth round, first with a right hook about a minute in, and again soon after the restart with a left hook. Blood began coming from a cut under Barrios’ left eye and left ear.
Even with Davis’ domination of that round, judges had scored the fight even through eight.
Barrios rallied in the ninth, twice pinning Davis in corners. While Barrios threw multiple combinations, few of his punches broke through to make solid contact, and the energy expended tired the San Antonio native.
As Davis sat on his stool before the 10th round, his promoter, Floyd Mayweather, yelled to him from outside the ring.
“Floyd came to me and was honest and said I was down. I knew I was down,” Davis said. “So he said show me that you’re great. ... I can’t compare myself to all the greats just yet. You know this man set the tone. I’m just following in his footsteps.”
Action slowed in the 10th round when Davis repeatedly ducked to avoid Barrios’ more wild swings and appeared to further slow his opponent with a left uppercut late.
The last punch came when Davis landed a left hook squarely in the middle of Barrios’ face with about 1:10 remaining in the 11th. The fight was soon stopped as Barrios staggered without falling.
“He was the better man tonight, but I’ll definitely be back,” Barrios said after losing his WBA super lightweight title. “Tank’s explosive. He caught me slipping and it’s boxing. At the end of the day, one punch can change the fight. That’s exactly what I felt happened.”