The tough in the title is Orlando Salido, Yuriorkis Gamboa’s featherweight opponent on Saturday night’s Boxing After Dark. The tougher is Brandon Rios, whose pit-bull tenacity essentially made Anthony Peterson quit in their lightweight bout. It was a great night of fights on HBO, who have found themselves a new star in Rios.
The supporting bout more or less upstaged the main event; Gamboa was a little more cautious than usual and Rios was scintillating. Seriously, upstaging YURIORKIS GAMBOA! What a way to start your career on premium cable!
Brandon Rios/Anthony Peterson – Rios DQ7
In many ways, this was a bizarre lightweight fight. Not only did Anthony Peterson foul himself out with his Andrew Golota routine, he also threw his gameplan out the window and completely ignored the advice of his corner. I’m kinda glad he did, it made for a fight that overshadowed the main event. In the 1st round, Peterson did what he should have done the whole fight – used his jab to control Rios from the outside. But from the 2nd, he got drawn into a sticky quagmire on the inside; a game that suited Rios to a T.
That’s not to say that Peterson was completely ineffective brawling with Rios. He landed some eye catching, hard punches, and got the best of many exchanges. But Rios’ chopping hooks and uppercuts were clearly doing more damage. Rios’ movement, using his feet to create angles to throw his punches on the inside, was a thing of beauty.
Rios weighed 10 pounds more than Peterson when they stepped into the ring, and clearly knew it. His body contact probably took as much out of Peterson as his punches did.
Certainly by the 5th Peterson was starting to look pretty damn discouraged. He looked even more discouraged after going down to a left from Rios. Nevertheless, he managed to come back and do some damage in this 6th, though only half of it was of the legal variety. The ref took two points for low blows, which were clearly intentional. Between the 6th and the 7th he threw nearly 10, some of which the ref didn’t see. To his credit, Rios chucked a Ricky Hatton and threw a few right back.
In the last second of the 7th, Peterson threw another deliberate cock punch and had himself disqualified. He didn’t admit it to Max Kellerman, but he clearly fouled himself out. He was having a horrible time, had an ugly mouse over his eye and didn’t want anything more to do with Rios. It was a hell of a fight while it lasted though and I think I speak for many when I say I want to see more of Rios on HBO.
Yuriorkis Gamboa/Orlando Salido – Gamboa UD12
While ostensibly a fight between a old hand (Salido) and a contender (Gamboa), this featherweight unification bout was really between two veterans. Gamboa’s 250 amateur fights held him in good stead, with the Cuban remaining cool as a cucumber throughout. Meanwhile, Salido’s pro experience (the dude turned pro at 15!) allowed him to make it to the final bell and at times really test “El Ciclon.”
Gamboa’s composure led to a bout that was perhaps slightly less entertaining than past performances, but enjoyable nonetheless. He won almost every round with his lighting fast combos, even if the number of punches was slightly less than usual (relatively speaking, meaning he didn’t throw as many 10-15 punch combos as previously).
Salido proved himself to be the crafty veteran that everyone expected, catching a lot on his gloves and often finishing the better in exchanges on the inside. In my book he won only the 8th (in which a Gamboa slip was ruled a knockdown) and the 9th, when Gamboa seemed to take a bit of a breather.
In round 10, Gamboa unleashed an barrage of punches that had Salido sagging, and I thought the ref might have stopped it. But the gritty Salido soldiered on, despite a headbutt in the 11th that had blood streaming out of his forehead into his left eye. He remained badly hurt in the 12th, going down twice. The second knockdown didn’t seem to faze Gamboa, who kept punching while his opponent was on the mat (maybe his hands are so fast he can’t stop them?). That poor form earned him a two point deduction from Joe Cortez, and gave the very game Salido time to recover enough to survive to the bell.
Gamboa earned the unanimous decision, dominating every stanza and never really looking ruffled. Despite being a 250+ fight veteran, he’s still learning on the job. The newer, slightly less crazy Gamboa will be even harder for opponents to deal with. But I’d like to see them (especially Celestino Caballero or JuanMa) try.