Sunday, March 27, 2011

Notes from the Gamboa-Solis Card

  • Yuriorkis Gamboa put on the performance of his career against Jorge Solis.   With five knockdown over four rounds, he displayed a dominant right hand and left hook.  His speed and power never looked better.
  • More importantly for Gamboa though, was his effective aggression.  After a measured first round, Gamboa created openings by throwing power shots from the outside, specifically lead right hands.  He followed up his initial shots with poise, leaving behind the reckless abandon of his earlier fights.  Gamboa's past style created opportunities for his opponents; he has tasted the canvas on a number of occasions.  Tonight, he was dominant, but in control.
  • This version of Gamboa, who keeps his distance better and doesn't square up when throwing power shots, will create enormous matchup problems for anyone in the featherweight division.  In the past, Gamboa's flaws were obvious and provided at least a possible direction in how to defeat him.  Now, it's gotten that much tougher.
  • It was great to see Juan Manuel Lopez in the ring after the fight tonight.  Both Gamboa and he claim they want to fight each other.  Here's why it needs to happen this year:
  • Top Rank will show us whether it really wants to match Gamboa with Lopez.  It says here that Gamboa defeats Lopez with a late-round knockout in a vicious war.  Maybe Top Rank is protecting Lopez; maybe they are sincerely trying to build the fight.  We will know the truth soon enough.  
  • Mikey Garcia reminds me of former featherweight contender Rocky Juarez.  Like Juarez, Garcia possesses all the skill and technique to be elite, but I'm not quite sure he has the heart or desire.  To beat the best, you have to take risks.  Tonight, Garcia seemed all too content to box from the outside and occasionally mix up his power shots: the lack of urgency was striking.   
  • Time is still on Garcia's side, but by the fourth round it was clear that Matt Remillard had no chance of beating him.  Garcia needed to be more aggressive.  He didn't necessarily discount himself with that performance, but the goal should be to make the boxing public care. 
  • Inviting Nick Charles to call the Garcia-Remillard fight, HBO showed its class tonight.  Charles, battling late-stage cancer, displayed his warmth and love of the sport and people of boxing.  Godspeed, Nick.
  • The fight of the night was clearly the Jorge Diaz-Teon Kennedy fight.  The bout, streamed live on the Top Rank website, featured two local attractions in a junior featherweight clash (Diaz from central Jersey and Kennedy from Philadelphia).  It was a classic style matchup between the aggressive brawler, Diaz, and the slick, counterpuncher, Kennedy. 
  • Diaz started out with guns blazing and it didn't look like Kennedy had enough firepower to keep Diaz off him.  A flash knockdown of Diaz in the third round announced that Kennedy was in the fight.  In the six, Kennedy landed a picture-perfect right hand and dropped Diaz again.  Kennedy followed up with a barrage of punches but Diaz survived the round.
  • By the eighth round, Diaz gathered himself and continued his relentless attack on Kennedy.  Kennedy displayed great counterpunching and smart movement throughout the fight.  He won a unanimous decision (with scores perhaps a little wide) in what was a great scrap. 
  • Kennedy now finds himself in the top-10 or top-15 in the division.  He showed that he has not just the physical tools to beat good boxers but also the mental toughness.  He needs to work on being first and creating more opportunities.  Clearly, he has great counterpunching skills, but against good boxers, he could potentially give away too many rounds, waiting for openings that may never come.  A more varied attack strategy may be the ticket for greater things.  With a few more fights, he'll be ready for a title shot. 
  • Special mention must be made for Steve Smoger, who refereed the Diaz-Kennedy fight.  Many less-experienced refs would have stopped the fight at the end of the sixth, as Diaz was taking serious punishment.  At one point, it looked like Smoger was indeed going to end the bout, but he let it continue.  Fight fans were treated to six more rounds of scintillating action because of Smoger's judgement.  Smoger has the reputation of letting fighters slug it out.  Here, as he often is, Smoger was pitch perfect.   

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