SAN DIEGO, June 27, 2014 – Whether boxing fans see a Fight Of The Year nominee or a defensive snoozfest from Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday depends on which version of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Terence Crawford show up, and whether the more entertaining versions show up in the same ring.
Crawford will take on the 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist in his hometown on HBO Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET. It is the first major boxing event in Omaha since Joe Frazier fought Ron Stander, the “Bluffs Butcher,” in 1972. Read more here for a walk down that Memory Lane.
Both Gamboa and Crawford have the same undefeated record of 23-0 with 16 knockouts apiece. Their resumes look quite different beyond the numbers in the past few years.
Gamboa came roaring out of Cuba like many boxers from the nation’s powerhouse amateur system with impressive speed and fan pleasing aggression. This aggression borders on recklessness, and Gamboa has been knocked down for it.
Just as he appeared to be on the verge of star power status, Gamboa virtually disappeared from the ring due to problems with trainers and promoters. He’s only had a single fight the last two years, and this is his first bout in 2014. His last knockout was four years ago.
Crawford had a solid amateur career, and as a professional has always gotten the job done with solid defensive skills and smart counterpunching. But he hasn’t always been the most exciting guy to watch. In two 2013 fights, he won lopsided decisions over Breidis Prescott and Andrey Klimov in fights so boring, fans cheered when they were finally over. To be fair, Prescott and Klimov refused to engage with Crawford, and Crawford saw no need to put his record at risk pressing the action.
In March, Crawford took a risk by traveling to Scotland to fight popular native son and veteran champion Ricky Burns. Crawford won a solid unanimous decision in a good fight, winning the WBO lightweight title from Burns.
Crawford would love nothing more than to put on another good show in front of his hometown fans and in front of a national audience on HBO. This will be his last fight at lightweight before he moves up to the 140-pound division where bigger name opponents like Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia, and even Chris Algieri are waiting for him.
Gamboa needs to remind fans why he was such an exciting prospect a few years ago with a good showing Saturday.
It’s a close fight to call between the compact Gamboa and the tall rangy Crawford. Crawford should play it smart and use his reach and height advantage to strike and stay out of Gamboa’s way. Gamboa will want to bring the action, and the fans will love him if he does, but he can’t be careless about it and get caught up in the moment.
The hometown favorite Crawford has the advantage, but the fight could take an unexpected turn if Gamboa can find the target with power against Crawford.
No matter the outcome, it’s a big plus for boxing to have this fight taking place in this Midwestern venue, outside of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and New York. Bringing live championship boxing to a audience that doesn’t often get a chance to see quality competition will help build the fan base for the Sweet Science into the future.
Also on the televised program is a contest between undefeated middleweights Matt Korobov (23-0, 13 KOs) of Russia, now living in Florida; and Jose Uzcategui (22-0, 18 KOs) of Venezuela now living in Tijuana, Mexico, in a 10-round fight. It is Uzcategui’s first fight in the U.S. Korobov spent his amateur career in Russia and represented Russia in the 2008 Olympic Games, then turned professional.
All fighters made weight on Friday. Gamboa weighed in at 134.4 pounds, Crawford at 134.8 pounds. Both Korobov and Uzcategui weighed in at the 160 pound limit.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google
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