On Jan. 14, 2017, Gervonta Davis became the IBF super featherweight world champion with a seventh-round TKO win over Jose Pedraza. It was a night that put Davis on the map in the boxing world.
The world took notice of Davis after they saw his brute force in action against a world champion. Davis had the backing of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for about one year before the fight, and the outcome validated what Mayweather saw in Davis.
This was by far the biggest stage that Davis fought on up until that point in his career. At the time, he just turned 22-years-old and was looked at as a rising prospect. Some questioned Davis’ ability to handle the step up in competition at such a young age.
He started out with a high tempo and he never slowed down. Davis worked inside the pocket and eventually made Pedraza pay for his defensive mistakes.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) February 7, 2019
Davis stopped Pedraza in the seventh round with a vicious right hook that sent Pedraza through the ropes. That was the 16th career knockout for Davis. The interesting part about this fight was that it was the co-feature bout but it stole the show. Most people were in disbelief of Davis’ performance and they were ecstatic about the burgeoning star.
With the win, Davis became the youngest champion in boxing at the time. He immediately became a star in boxing after the win.
Four months later, Davis traveled to the United Kingdom to make his first title defense at 130 pounds against Liam Walsh in the main event. Davis ousted Walsh via a third-round TKO. He followed that performance up with an eighth-round KO against Francisco Fonseca on the undercard of the Mayweather vs. McGregor bout in August 2017.
Since the win over Pedraza in January 2017, Davis defended his super featherweight belt six times. His last fight at 130 pounds was Halloween 2020 against Leo Santa Cruz. It will be unlikely to see Davis fight at 130 pounds in the near future. He even jumped up to 140 pounds and became the WBA super lightweight champion in June 2021. Most recently, he fought at 135 pounds in December and defended his WBA lightweight title against Isaac Cruz.
That win over Pedraza accelerated his rise to the top of the sport. He instantly inserted himself into the discussion as one of the best young fighters in boxing. In five years, Davis went from being a promising contender to a pound-for-pound champion.