NEWARK, New Jersey – Most of the attention Friday night was paid to the two-division champion who is newest elite entrant into the lightweight division.
Before Shakur Stevenson beat Robson Conceicao relatively easily, though, a younger, less experienced prospect promised that he, too, will be ready for the best the lightweight division has to offer sooner than later. Keyshawn Davis told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after his impressive fifth-round technical knockout of Omar Tienda that he expects to be a legitimate lightweight contender by next year.
Norfolk’s Davis improved to 6-0 and produced his fifth knockout against Tienda, who was stopped for the first time in 9½ years during a co-feature ESPN televised from Prudential Center in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark.
“Hey man, we working towards becoming a contender, man,” Davis said. “My next fight is gonna put me in that process faster. And in the next year, we definitely gonna be contending, and we gonna be top 10, for sure, by next year.”
Davis, a silver medalist at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, fought for the first time in almost five months. Two of Davis’ fights this year – bouts tentatively scheduled for March 19 and July 15 – were scrapped due to an undisclosed health issue that was not related to COVID-19.
Mexico’s Tienda (25-6, 18 KOs) had been stopped only once in his first 30 professional bouts, but Davis drilled him with a counter right hand that sent Tienda to the canvas 1:15 into the fifth round. Tienda tried to survive once he got up and the action resumed, but Davis pounced on him and landed an array of hard lefts and rights that caught Tienda and backed him into the ropes.
Referee Earl Brown then stepped between them and halted the action at 1:38 of the fifth round.
“Man, honestly, it felt like a dream come true, man,” said Davis, who has won three straight bouts by technical knockout. “I couldn’t believe I got a chance to perform on [a show of] this magnitude. Being that I was out with health issues, I didn’t really know what to expect out of myself. But I always said, ever since I went pro, God got me. And he definitely had me tonight.”
The affable, talented Davis credited Terence Crawford for the unbeaten WBO welterweight champion helping him in the gym recently. Davis has worked with Crawford’s career-long trainer, Brian McIntyre, for each of his three fights since he signed a promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
“Man, being around Terence Crawford, learning from Terence Crawford every day in the gym, sparring him day in and day out, and just hearing his voice when I was sparring [helped me],” Davis said. “But tonight, I give credit to [McIntyre]. Bo-Mac said, ‘Man, look, you walkin’ to him a lot. Let that man come to you. Set him up and hit him with a shot. And that’s exactly what I did. I let him walk right into that right hand. Next thing you know, he on the ground.”
The 23-year-old Davis is scheduled to return to the ring December 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York. His opponent hasn’t been chosen for a fight ESPN will air before Teofimo Lopez opposes a foe to be determined in the main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.