(Photo credit: Jayson Colon, BoricuaBoxing.com)
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — This wasn’t the version of Yuriorkis Gamboa who wows you with his cosmic force Saturday night on HBO; it was, instead, a version who was sensational primarily for flashes of offense and defense that take your breath away. He took the technical decision win over Daniel Ponce De Leon with relative ease, aided by a decision to end the fight in the 8th round due to a head butt-induced cut on De Leon — a gash that didn’t look like it should have ended the fight from my seat or on the replay monitors.
So it was YURIORKIS GAMBOA. Not the usual YURIORKIS GAMBOA! A rowdy (and small) crowd of 2,085 beforehand that chanted his name later was strangely quiet, other than the aforementioned ooo’s and ahh’s and some small choruses of “Cuba! Cuba!”
It shouldn’t have seemed so unthrilling. Gamboa and De Leon exchanged hard punches, and after winning the 1st round on my card, De Leon kept the subsequent rounds competitive with surprisingly sharp boxing. But Gamboa is such a phenom, makes things look so easy sometimes, that he creates the air of a sparring session when he’s not bulldozing through his competition. There were some comical histrionics throughout the fight between De Leon and Gamboa — bowing, stopping and staring at each other, chest beating — that also made things moderately amusing. And in another takeaway, we learned that Gamboa can take a punch from a big power puncher; that means that you have to throw the strategy out the window of relying entirely on Gamboa’s chin to give out.
It all came to a conclusion when the head butt halted things in the 8th. Despite the gash not looking so terrible to me, De Leon said that he thought it was a good stoppage, since the cut was in a bad place and was deep. So be it.
In his post-fight interview along press row, Gamboa said he was now done with the featherweight division, which has nothing left to offer him. He said he wanted Manny Pacquiao, but I suspect that’s just talk aimed at enhancing his marketability. Gamboa further said he would move to 130 or 135. But there’s nothing there challenging for him at 130 outside of Adrien Broner, and Broner is advised by Al Haymon, the least favorite advisor of Top Rank, which co-promotes Gamboa. The other bad news about that is that we won’t get a Gamboa vs. Nonito Donaire fight. But since Juan Manuel Lopez has talked about moving to 130, and because he’s trying to avenge a loss to Orlando Salido, Gamboa-Lopez — the fight we all wanted for a long time but didn’t get — could get revived. It would be a chance for Gamboa to restore his exclamation point.