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  Yuriorkis Gamboa Defeats Daniel Ponce De Leon:
So Why Do So Many Seem Unhappy?
And Undercard Results From Atlantic City

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey


After winning a technical unanimous decision that had Gamboa winning every round on two of the judge’s scorecards and all but one on the remaining scorecard, Gamboa was asked by Max Kellerman what happened to the Gamboa of the Solis fight. Gamboa is well accustomed to criticism from Max Kellerman and other boxing writers. Gamboa has been criticized for being too reckless and fighting without any real defense, and then he has been criticized for not taking the chances that must be taken to give the crowd an exciting fight. And all the criticism seems to come from the fact that he had an extensive amateur career while living in his home country of Cuba. Either he is doing too much to prove he is a marketable fighter, or he is going back to his amateur style. We have all heard of Montezuma’s revenge; maybe this is Fidel Castro’s revenge. Castro’s revenge is creating a system that can produce a technically great fighter who will forever be criticized for not being exciting enough or if he is exciting, then he is too reckless.

Looking at the fight with Daniel Ponce DeLeon, most, with the exception of diehard DeLeon fans, will agree that Gamboa controlled the action of nearly every round that was fought. However, this does not mean that Gamboa dominated every round. In fact, at times, Gamboa backed off from DeLeon when it seemed that he should go after him. DeLeon, although he was not winning the rounds, did more to initiate exchanges between the two fighters. Gamboa spent too much of the fight playing it safe.

He spent most of the first round dodging the shots of DeLeon. In round two, he had DeLeon in the corner only to let him out. DeLeon then became the one coming after Gamboa. In round three he kept from being hit through a combination of movement and his jab. Round four was characterized by Gamboa keeping his distance, slipping in and landing a shot at a time. It was not until round five that Gamboa seemed to be fighting with more abandon.

Ponce DeLeon showed his frustration with Gamboa in round six. Gamboa continued to use movement and distance to stay ahead on the scorecards. Gamboa would move in and land a punch or two and then move out of reach again. DeLeon finally just stood in the middle of the ring motioning for Gamboa to come to him. Gamboa did not. In round seven Gamboa caught DeLeon on the ropes, then landed a combination. It seemed to be one of those moments when Gamboa would unleash and try to finish the fight. DeLeon turned and got off the ropes, while Gamboa went into the ropes.

The fight was only to get to the eighth round. Maybe this was what seemed so unsettling with Gamboa’s critics. Gamboa did not knock DeLeon out. They would probably still have criticized the fight, but at least then, Gamboa could point to the end. However, there was no knock out, not even a knock down. The fight was stopped due to an accidental head-butt. DeLeon could not continue to fight, and that left the fight in the hands of the judges. Gamboa easily won the fight. Technically he is a great fighter, doing exactly what he needs to do to win a fight.

Boxing writers and television commentators will debate his performance. Many will criticize him for not being exciting enough. However, for those watching the telecast on HBO, the camera never caught the feel of the crowd. Chants of Cuba, Cuba, Cuba filled the old ballroom. Cuban flags were displayed with pride. The Cuban fans left satisfied that they have a national champion to represent them in the world of professional boxing. And isn’t it really about the fans anyway?

Earlier in the evening, Super Featherweight Luis Cruz of Puerto Rico easily defeated Antonio Davis of Atlanta. Cruz is being promoted by both Miguel Cotto and Top Rank. Davis looked in trouble in the first thirty seconds of the fight. Davis did his best to keep distance between himself and Cruz, but this simply kept him from landing any shots. Cruz knocked Davis halfway across the ring in round two, and later in the round knocked Davis through the ropes, scoring a knock down. Cruz knocked Davis down twice in the fifth round. The fight would not last much longer. Cruz knocked out Davis with a right uppercut in the sixth round.

Another possible international star on the rise is Welterweight Wale Omotoso. Omotoso, also known as Lucky Boy, had little trouble with opponent Calvin Odom after the second round. Odom knocked Omotoso down in the first round. However by the second half of the second round Omotoso had taken control of the fight. By the fourth round Omotoso was showboating in the ring, dancing and taunting Odom. He then knocked Odom down. In the fifth round, Omotoso caught Odom on the ropes and unleashed a flurry of punches. Referee Sparkle Lee stopped the fight.

In one of the stranger fights of the evening, Jorge Diaz was given a TKO victory over Rafael Lora. Diaz, who lost to Teon Kennedy in his last fight, fought to once again prove himself. Unfortunately, this fight did little to raise his stock in the boxing world. In the second round, Lora caught up against the ropes tried to spin away from Diaz. Diaz reached around from the back of his head, knocking him down. Referee Sparkle Lee began to count. In the third round Diaz hit Lora in the back of the head, knocking him down to the canvas. Rather than being warned or having a point deducted, Diaz was given the TKO since Lora could no longer continue to fight.

Super Lightweight Terrance Crawford won by unanimous decision against Angel Rios. Crawford dominated the first six rounds. Rios did not even seem to be in the fight until the seventh round. By then it was simply too late.

Super Bantamweight Miguel Cartagena defeated Christian Cruz by TKO victory. Cartagena controlled the fight until a halt was called in the action in the second round.


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