They were the words the Baltimore boxing community and its fans have been waiting to hear for years. The words from the ringside announcer:
“And the new IBF junior lightweight champion of the world, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis”
Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis won the International Boxing Federation junior lightweight belt on Saturday night in Brooklyn, New York. He knocked out Jose Pedraza in the seventh round. Davis, the 22-year-old champ, is part of Flyod Mayweather promotions. He was back home on Tuesday hanging around his training facility, the Upton Boxing Center in West Baltimore.
“It was just like a beast coming out of me. It was exciting - me getting my hand raised,” said the fighter they call Tank.
Davis is Baltimore’s first world boxing champion since Hasim Rahman, who beat Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight title in 2001.
“Baltimore and the boxing fans that were cheering me on, the arena went crazy. There was a lot of emotions coming out. Great emotions,” said Davis.
He said the greatest motivation to win was the youth at his gym and in his city. He wants to teach them that hard work really does pay off.
“The kids see it. It just gives them hope that they can do what I did or better,” added Davis.
Davis was once one of those kids. His trainer Calvin Ford says his victory is going to open up a lot of doors.
“A lot of kids come in here every day and work hard,” Ford said as his eyes watered. “People don’t understand the trials and the tribulations that they go through actually making it work. It’s a struggle but they come in here and put that work in each and every day. When you see that performance at the fight, that’s where the gratification comes from, is when their hands go up and you know that they put that work in.”
Ford said Gervonta’s first title defense should come sometime in the spring. He’s hoping the fight happens right here in Baltimore.
Davis’ team still wants to let the city celebrate their new champ. They’re planning a public party which they hope will take place sometime in February.