Yuriorkis Gamboa Shows Flashes of Greatness

Fight Network Staff / September 15, 2011 - 3:21pm

Yuriorkis Gamboa proved once again that he is the best featherweight in the world once again this past Saturday night in Atlantic City, thoroughly dominating former champ Daniel Ponce De Leon. Gamboa, the Guantanamo Cyclone scored a technical decision victory over de Leon in 8 rounds when the fight was stopped due to an accidental clash of heads between the two fighters.

De Leon emerged from the accidental butt squinting furiously, causing referee Alan Huggins to stop the fight momentarily so as to allow the ringside doctor to take a look at the damage the butt had caused on de Leon’s face. de Leon suffered a deep cut over his right eye, which was spurting blood. De Leon, a true warrior, showed his stripes by pleading with the doctor to allow him to continue. The cut was deep and in a bad place. The doctor felt he had no choice but to stop the fight.

The cut did not look to adversely affect De Leon. The doctor looked panicked and hesitated for a moment, trying to leave the decision of whether or not continue in the hands of referee Alan Huggins. The doctor asked Huggins several times what to do. Referee Alan Huggins told the doctor that such a decision was a medical call, thus it was up to the doctor. Ponce De Leon at least deserved an opportunity to try and continue. He has an excellent and experienced corner and it would have pleased the fans if de Leon’s corner had at least been given a proper chance to stop the cut over their fighter’s eye.

Yuriorkis Gamboa showed flashes of greatness throughout the fight but seemed very tentative for most of the fight, giving De Leon a lot of respect. In his previous fight against Juan Solis, Gamboa appeared to have been operating on all cylinders, putting all of his vast skills on displaying, astonishing the crowd while destroying Solis. Against De Leon, Gamboa only fought in spurts. Gamboa often seems to be fighting himself as much as he is fighting his opponent.

There is no doubt that when he puts his mind and body into it, Yuriorkis Gamboa is breathtakingly brilliant and a privilege to watch. However, he doesn’t put everything together often enough to warrant the huge paydays that go to boxing elite fighters, such as Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Nonito Donaire, Sergio Martinez and Juan Manuel Marquez, who is about to face destruction at the hands of Manny Pacquiao in November. Gamboa seemed to perform better when he knew that he would soon be facing the other top featherweight in the world, Juan Manuel Lopez aka Juanma (my favorite fighter).

There is no doubt that Gamboa and Juanma would have made a fortune facing each other if Juanma still held a portion of the featherweight title. However, for some reason, since he lost his title to Orlando Salido in a huge upset recently, Juanma has been written off as an elite fighter. This simply defies common sense. Even with is upset loss to Salido, Juanma is still, along with Gamboa, one of the two best featherweights in the world. Why not have these two power punching featherweights face each other? It would still be a great bout.

There were people prior to Juanma’s loss to Salido that would have favored him over Gamboa because of his awesome bone-rattling punching power. However, the Salido fight once and for all proved what many experts had been saying about Juanma since his amateur days, which is, he gets hit too often for an elite-level fighter. Juanma loves to slug. He ignores defence at his own peril and he paid for it against Salido. Juanma realizes this and has worked very hard on improving his defence. You can’t teach having a great chin but you can improve a fighter’s balance, and, in so doing, better improve his chances of taking a good shot if he is weight is correctly distributed through his legs.

Gamboa is very quick on offence and defence and he takes a good shot. Gamboa can switch from defense to offense and back in the blink of a wounded opponent’s eye. Sure, Gamboa has been dropped four times in his career, but really, so what? He rose from each knockdown with no problem, on sturdy legs, completely in control of all of his faculties. Gamboa has excellent foot speed and balance and is very difficult to hit squarely with a solid shot.

Gamboa is always moving in the ring, constantly switching directions, which makes it almost impossible to walk him down. He is an exceedingly smart fighter. How smart? You can bet that Gamboa will never stand and trade with Juanma. Yuriorkis Gamboa never willingly puts himself in adverse situations, which tend to favor his opponents. There is no reason to do so. He understands implicitly Sugar Ray Leonard’s maxim, “Guts gets you killed. Smart wins you fights.” Why trade with Juanma when you can beat him with speed. It doesn’t make sense for Gamboa to risk getting caught with a hard shot.

Ponce De Leon frequently motioned Gamboa to come in and slug with him but Gamboa never took the bait. Slugging with a power puncher like De Leon is not Gamboa’s game. Gamboa relies heavily on hand and foot speed and ring smarts, which he has in abundance. Several years back, before Salido upset Juanma, I would have picked Juanma to handily beat Gamboa. Now, after watching them both very closely for awhile, I would have to choose Gamboa to win by decision or to stop Juanma in the 11th or 12th round.

Gamboa has so many weapons at his fistic disposal that unless bantamweights Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux decide to move up an entire weight class just to face Gamboa at featherweight, there is really nobody left to challenge Gamboa. Gamboa is looking for some name opponents to bring out the best in him and he hasn’t found any yet, that have sparked his pugilistic imagination or the fancy of fight fans. Gamboa will remain on the featherweight throne for a little while longer and then move up to super featherweight (also called junior lightweight) to test the waters there, No doubt he will make a big splash in that division too.

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