ATLANTA – Yuriorkis Gamboa gave Gervonta Davis more rounds Saturday night than his unbeaten opponent had ever fought.

Eventually, however, Davis gave the crowd of 14,129 the knockout they came to State Farm Arena to see. Davis dropped Gamboa three times in all – once apiece in the second, eighth and 12th rounds – and finished his older opponent with just 1:43 to go in a lightweight title fight Showtime televised.

Referee Jack Reiss declared the Baltimore native the winner when Gamboa hit the canvas for the third time. The time of the stoppage was 1:17 of the final round.

Davis was ahead by huge margins on all three scorecards entering the 12th round. Judges Edward Kanner and Steve Weisfeld each had Davis in front 109-98 through 11 rounds, whereas judge Dave Moretti had Davis in front 109-97 at that point.

The 25-year-old Davis (23-0, 22 KOs), who was listed as a 20-1 favorite, extended his knockout streak to 14 and boxed beyond the ninth round for the first time in his career. The 38-year-old Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) had his four-fight winning streak snapped.

Davis gave himself a C-plus for his performance.

“Coming into this fight, I knew Gamboa was a tough opponent,” Davis told Showtime’s Jim Gray. “I knew he was a vet. As you see in the ring, I was catching and hurting him, but he was still there. I knew he was better than anyone I had fought before.

“I was mainly focused on catching him with clean shots. I was catching him with clean shots and wasn’t hurting him, so I knew I was in for rounds tonight.”

Davis won a vacant version of the WBA’s lightweight title by beating Gamboa.

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The Atlanta resident captured the WBA’s secondary 135-pound championship, though. Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), the fighter fans most want Davis to face, owns the WBA’s “super” lightweight title and is commonly considered that sanctioning organization’s legitimate champion within the division.

Nevertheless, his victory Saturday night made Davis a world champion in a second weight class.

Davis was a two-time champion at 130 pounds, yet only because his failure to make weight before an eighth-round knockout of Francisco Fonseca cost him the IBF junior lightweight title at the scale in August 2017 in Las Vegas. He later won a vacant version of the WBA’s super featherweight title by knocking out Jesus Cuellar in the third round of an April 2018 bout in Brooklyn.

Gamboa, who turned 38 on Monday, lost for just the third time in his 12-year pro career.

Each of those defeats have come by technical knockout. Terence Crawford stopped Gamboa in the ninth round of their June 2014 bout and Robinson Castellanos beat him by TKO after seven one-sided rounds in May 2017.

Gamboa is the most noteworthy name on Davis’ record, but the 2004 Olympic gold medalist is generally regarded as an underachiever as a professional. The Cuban-born boxer has won world titles in three weight classes, yet he has been hindered by an unreliable chin and inconsistency.

Gamboa told Showtime’s Jim Gray following his loss that he suffered an injury to his Achilles’ tendon very early in their fight.

“I feel OK, but I think I ruptured my Achilles’ tendon before I fell in the second round,” Gamboa said. “I’m a warrior and I kept going, but as soon as I fell, I knew it was ruptured. I couldn’t put pressure on it. I wanted to keep going. I told my corner it was a problem, but I wanted to keep going because I’m a warrior.”

Hellbent on scoring a knockout, Davis attacked Gamboa as soon as the 12th round began. He drilled Gamboa with multiple left hands, before flooring him with a left uppercut when there was 1:47 to go in the final round.

Reiss quickly waved an end to the fight, without counting at all.

The crowd grew restless in the 11th round, seemingly because Davis hadn’t knocked out Gamboa. Davis rallied late in the 11th, when he buzzed Gamboa again with a left and a right.

Gamboa stumbled into the ropes just as the 11th round ended, though Reiss didn’t count that as a knockdown.

A right-left combination by Gamboa drew a reaction from the crowd with about 1:10 to go in the 10th round. Davis didn’t seem affected by those shots, but landing two flush punches gave Gamboa confidence.

After flooring Gamboa late in the eighth round, Davis unloaded various power punches on Gamboa throughout the ninth round. A game Gamboa seemed fatigued and ready to go, yet Davis couldn’t end their fight in that round.

Davis blocked several of Gamboa’s power shots in the eighth round. Davis rocked Gamboa with a right hook with just over 20 seconds to go in that round. About 10 seconds later, Davis sent Gamboa to the seat of his trunks with a left hand.

Gamboa beat Reiss’ count and the round ended several seconds later.

Reiss warned Gamboa late in the seventh round for grabbing Davis around his waist. Earlier in the seventh, Davis drilled Gamboa with a left to the body, but Gamboa fired back with a right that landed up top.

Davis charged across the ring at the start of the fifth round. He landed a left uppercut and then a left hook that wobbled Gamboa, who tried to hold after backing into the ropes.

Gamboa took several more hard shots from Davis, but he survived that trouble.

Davis landed a left and Gamboa connected with a right almost simultaneously in the middle minute of the fourth round. Gamboa tried to tie up Davis after that exchange.

Gamboa caught Davis with an overhand right very early in the third round. Davis landed three hard left hands to Gamboa’s head later in the third round.

Reiss gave Gamboa an additional few seconds before the third round began to make sure he wanted to continue. Gamboa seemed to shake out his leg, as if he suffered some sort of injury when Davis sent him to the canvas in the second round.

A short left by Davis knocked Gamboa to one knee 1:15 into the second round, which marked the 15th knockdown of his 12-year pro career. Gamboa got up and held his groin area.

Gamboa managed to reach the end of the second round, something neither of Davis’ previous two opponents accomplished.

Davis drilled Gamboa with a straight left hand just after the midway mark of the first round, but Gamboa didn’t budge. Gamboa dodged Davis’ left toward the end of the opening round.

Davis’ impressive victory Saturday concluded a successful 2019 in which he won each of his three bouts by knockout.

He knocked out Hugo Ruiz in the first round February 9 in Carson, California. Davis was a huge favorite to stop Ruiz, a late replacement for Abner Mares, who suffered a detached retina while training.

Davis needed only one more round to demolish mandatory challenger Ricardo Nunez in the following fight. Panama’s Nunez was the mandatory challenger for Davis’ WBA “super” 130-pound championship when Davis beat him by second-round TKO on July 28 at a sold-out Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore.

Davis gave up that title to move up to the lightweight division.

He almost squandered an opportunity to fight for a lightweight title Saturday night.

Davis initially weighed in at 136¼ pounds for this 135-pound title fight. He came back to the Georgia Athletic & Entertainment Commission’s scale more than hour later at 134½ pounds.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.