A pair of incredible performances sparked excitement in the boxing world on Saturday night as Gervonta "Tank" Davis stopped Mario Barrios and Vasiliy Lomachenko returned to form with a knockout of Masayoshi Nakatani.
Davis captured a championship in his third weight class, moving up to 140 pounds against the much taller Barrios and bringing his trademark power to the super lightweight division in front of a wild crowd in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Lomachenko may have cemented a rematch with Teofimo Lopez for three of the four recognized world championships at lightweight.
These are the kind of nights that give plenty to talk about for boxing fans. Let's take a look at three of the biggest takeaways coming out of the night.
Tank's star continues to rise
You can question the claim of Davis being a true three-division world champion given that his lightweight and now junior welterweight reigns were technically secondary championships within the WBA. That's a boxing problem, not a Davis problem. The one sure thing is that Davis is emerging as a superstar in the sport. While Ryan Garcia has his social media following and Teofimo Lopez has the biggest win in the young crop of fighters around lightweight, Davis is the man who is the biggest boxing star.
In Barrios, Davis had the right dance partner to shine even more than in other big moments, including his Knockout of the Year against Leo Santa Cruz in 2020. Davis was giving up height and Barrios was able to stand up to some hellacious punches, even as he went down twice in Round 8 and then again in Round 11. Fans tune in to see a big puncher and they tend to respect fighters who are willing to test themselves by taking risks like jumping up in weight beyond what may be smart. Davis brought the power up with him and delivered the dramatic, raising his star in the process. Barrios' stock likely went up as well, even in suffering the first defeat of his still-young career.
Lomachenko lands his Lopez rematch ... probably
After thoroughly dominating Nakatani, attention immediately turned back to whether Lomachenko would get his rematch with Teofimo Lopez. Lopez upset Lomachenko this past October to leave the ring with three of the four recognized lightweight world titles and Lomachenko has since claimed the fight should have been a draw and blamed his injured shoulder -- on which he had surgery following the fight -- for much of his early hesitation in the fight. Meanwhile, Lopez and his camp have repeatedly said they weren't interested in the rematch, citing that Lomachenko himself didn't want a rematch clause in the contract for their first fight. Lopez recently ironed out his issues with Top Rank and Lomachenko being in the same camp makes the rematch the easiest big fight for either man. Top Rank's Bob Arum has said that he believed the rematch made sense and would be a big draw on pay-per-view.
After Lomachenko's win, Teofimo Lopez Sr. said that his son would grant the rematch on the condition that it happen as both men's next fight after Lopez's planned August mandatory title defense against George Kambosos. Lomachenko said he was ready to do it at the end of 2021 or start of 2022 and Arum said he would make the fight happen by getting both men compensated appropriately. Of course, boxing has a special way of getting in its own way and Lopez has flirted with the idea of other opponents or even a jump to 140 pounds. Should there be even a slight stumble at the negotiating table, it's not hard to see the rematch failing to materialize.
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Boxing's future continues to look bright
We are not far removed from Floyd Mayweather's retirement and Manny Pacquiao's decline leading to another declaration that boxing was on its deathbed. There were no young stars, no fights fans wanted to see and nothing driving interest in the sport. But, as boxing always does, it has reloaded with a crop of exciting fighters (especially at lightweight and welterweight), an increase in title unifications and plenty of intriguing potential matchups that once again move the needle.
That's not to say that boxing doesn't have its share of issues. Matchmaking is often still far too political and the title picture far too confusing to allow the sport to go where it needs. But thrilling performances by men like Lomachenko and Davis and the wealth of mouthwatering fights available to both are yet another reminder that boxing is largely on the upswing, even if it will never reach the highs of bygone eras.