SAN DIEGO, June 28, 2014 – While previewing this fight, we said the quality of the contest would depend on which version of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Terence Crawford showed up in Omaha for their lightweight fight.
To the thrill of the 10,943 fans in the seats on hand to cheer for their hometown boxer Crawford, the best and most entertaining Gamboa and Crawford put on a Fight of the Year bout.
There was plenty of sizzle in this Omaha steak as Crawford prevailed with a stoppage at 2:53 of the ninth round thanks to a vicious left hook followed by a right hook, retaining his WBO lightweight belt.
Gamboa took control in the early rounds. He showed no sign of ring rust after being out of the ring for 13 months. But Crawford kept his cool, getting a sense of what Gamboa had to offer. He switched to a southpaw stance, which seemed risky until it started working for Crawford.
Crawford hit the mark with a big right hand to Gamboa in the fifth round, and Gamboa went down. He managed to finish the round, but he couldn’t quite get his legs back.
Gamboa continued to absorb punishment by Crawford, but the Cuban amateur champion and Olympic gold medalist knows how to summon his resolve. He stuck it out and continued to trade shots with Crawford. As long as Gamboa is upright, he remains dangerous. Crawford did an excellent job of using his height and reach advantage to step out of the way and avoid Gamboa’s worst, countering with jabs and straight lefts.
Crawford hit Gamboa and dropped him again in the eighth round, but didn’t have time in the round to finish Gamboa off. Gamboa threw his version of a Hail Mary pass and managed to catch Crawford a minute into the ninth round. Crawford admitted after the bout it buzzed him. :I commend him. I was too flat footed. But I came back strong,” Crawford told HBO’s Max Kellerman.
But Gamboa didn’t have a lot left in the tank, giving Crawford just enough time to get his legs back under him and knock Gamboa down twice, the second time for good with a vicious left hook.
Crawford hit Gamboa with 146 of 348 punches a 43 percent connect rate, with 72 of those to the left side of Gamboa’s head. Gamboa landed 82 of 345 punches for a 24 percent connect rate.
Crawford and the hometown crowd were elated over his victory. “It means a lot. This is what they’ve been waiting on since I turned pro,” since his Golden Gloves win in Omaha in 2006.
Crawford remains undefeated at 24-0 with 17 knockouts; Gamboa is now 23-1 with 16 knockouts. After the fight, Gamboa posted a message to fans on Twitter, “I am sorry if I disappointed u. I tried my best. I really did.”
Gamboa has nothing to apologize for. It takes two to put on such a high level fight. He reminded fans why he was such an exciting prospect a few years ago. Gamboa’s crowd-pleasing skills will be well received by fight fans when he returns to the ring. If he drops to the 126 weight class, he could take on the likes of Nonito Donaire, Evgeny Gradovich, and even Vasyl Lomachenko, all excellent matchups.
This should be Crawford’s last fight at lightweight before moving 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. None of them should be too anxious to volunteer after tonight’s performance.
In the televised undercard, middleweightMatt Korobov (24-0, 13 KOs) of Russia remains undefeated with a unanimous decision over Jose Uzcategui (22-1, 18 KOs) of Venezuela. Korobov, an accomplished amateur fighter who was a contemporary in those ranks with Sergey Kovalev and Gennady Golovkin, hasn’t risen to the top professional ranks as they have. This fight showed why. Korobov has solid tools, good punching skills, but zero charisma in the ring. He also failed to close the deal after hurting Uzcategui on several occasions. The restless Omaha crowd let him know it.
Korobov needs to develop the same take no prisoners attitude of Kovalev and Golovkin for him to become a serious boxing attraction. With this win he picks up the WBO Intercontinental Champion and could have the opportunity to face Peter Quillin. Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions tweeted he likes the match-up.
The night’s biggest winner was the city of Omaha, whose fans nearly filled the CenturyLink Center and gave boxing a warm Midwest reception. Sitting up front cheering as loudly as anyone was Ron “The Bluffs Butcher” Stander, who fought Joe Frazier in the same arena in 1972. Let’s hope it’s not another 42 years before boxing makes it way back to Nebraska again.
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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