Is Gamboa Already Better Than Pacquiao?
By Manuel Perez: 2004 Cuban amateur Gold Medalist super featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa (9-0, 8 KOs) meets up this weekend with Darling Jimenez (23-2, 14 KOs) at the Buffalo Bills Hotel, in Primm, Nevada. After only nine fights, many people, this writer included, feel that Gamboa is already the best super featherweight in the division, even better than champion Manny Pacquiao and former champion Juan Manuel Marquez. While this is only speculation on most people’s part, the evidence seems to suggest that Gamboa is already far better than Pacquiao in terms of talent, and well on his way to being more popular than him, at least in the U.S., if not the Philippines where Pacquiao resides.
If you’re why people feel so strongly about Gamboa, it only takes a couple of views of his fights to figure why. He has knockout power in either hand, and doesn’t waste time in his bouts with all the preliminary feeling out period in the first couple of rounds. Instead he goes right after his opponent like there’s no tomorrow, trying to take him out with every shot. It’s clear that he’s a harder puncher than Pacquiao, though he’s not nearly as fast as him in terms of hand speed. But, another Gamboa doesn’t need blazing hand speed because whatever he hits, he destroys. Whether it is the body or the head, Gamboa’s shots have a numbing effect on his opponents, sending them to the canvas as if they’ve been shot with a tranquilizer dart.
In comparison to him, Pacquiao’s shots are a lot less powerful and he needs to land many more of them to do the same job. I personally consider Marquez a better fighter than Pacquiao, so this comparison should really be between Gamboa and him, but many people are still under the impression that Pacquiao is still the best in the division.
As far as defense goes, Gamboa is much better than Pacquiao could ever hope to be. That’s no knock on Pacquiao, because he did the best with what rudimentary training they had for him while he was growing up. Gamboa, however, was given the best training in Cuba, which has a reputation as having the best trainers in the world in boxing, though their training facilities are no match for those in other parts of the world. In almost all the fights I’ve seen him in, Gamboa rarely gets hit by his opponents, as he ducks, leans and moves away with the moves of a dancer, avoiding punishment. While making his opponents miss, Gamboa is extraordinary in his ability to come back with a punch of his own even when off balance.
I’m not talking a weak punch, mind you. He fires back with power no matter if he’s off balance. Whereas with Pacquiao, he gets hit a lot, and doesn’t seem to have grasped the defensive side of his game nearly as well as his offensive. I suppose he can’t be blamed, because he has been able to beat most of his opponents, other than Marquez, by just going out and taking the fight to them. He hasn’t had to work on his defense because his offensive skills have always bailed him out, except for his fights with Marquez. So definitely as far as offense and defense goes, Pacquiao is no match for Gamboa.
Gamboa also appears to fight smarter than Pacquiao, setting traps for his opponents and making them pay for their mistakes. You can see Gamboa thinking when he fights, looking like a chess player as he tries to get his opponent into a particular place or situation where he can unload on them with some fierce shots. Pacquiao, for his part, seems to fight more with just reckless abandon as he runs after his opponents with both arms flailing back and forth. It’s not pretty to watch, but it works for Pacquiao in most of his fights. I doubt that it would be a style that would be effective against a skilled fighter like Gamboa, however. I can see Gamboa stepping to the side like a matador and eating Pacquiao up with some fierce shots.
One would hope that Pacquiao and Gamboa can meet up in the near future but I tend to have my doubts. Pacquiao is starting to get up there in age and I doubt he’ll give a young lion like Gamboa a shot at his title before retiring from the sport. There are much easier fights out there than Gamboa for Pacquiao, like David Diaz, for example, and I seriously doubt Pacquiao would want to risk his legacy by fighting someone as tough as Gamboa at this point in his career. Don’t get me wrong, I think a young Pacquiao would fight Gamboa in a second, but not now that Pacquiao is starting to show a little wear and tear.
It wouldn’t make sense financially to take on a fighter like Gamboa because he’s not as popular as Marquez and some of the other fighters that Pacquiao will be looking to fight after the upcoming Diaz bout. However, if Pacquiao stays around in the sport another two years, Gamboa will likely be even more popular than him in the U.S., and there will be a lot of pressure for Pacquiao to make the fight. By then, it won’t be what I consider to be even a remotely winnable fight for Pacquiao given his age by that time (31). I like Pacquiao as a fighter, and think he’s in the top two in the super featherweight division, right behind Marquez, but he wouldn’t have the goods to beat Gamboa, and neither would Marquez for that matter. Gamboa is something special and will likely be a boxing legend by the time he’s through with the sport. Hopefully, the money doesn’t ruin him early on because he has the talent to leave a mark on boxing.