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Gamboa Defeats Jimenez, Fails To Impress

Yuriorkis GamboaBy Aaron Klein: Undefeated super featherweight prospect Yuriorkis Gamboa (10-0, 8 KOs) had a less than thrilling performance on Saturday night, as he struggled to defeat his best opponent to date Darling Jimenez (23-3-2, 14 KOs) by a 10-round unanimous decision at the Buffalo Bills Hotel, in Primm, Nevada. The final judges’ scores were 97-92, 97-92 and 99-91, all for Gamboa. For the most part, Gamboa landed the many more punches in the fight.

However, where he failed to impress was on defense as he allowed Jimenez to land some big shots against him, getting knocked down by him in the fourth round after getting hit with a big right to the head. Gamboa, a former 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist in the flyweight division for the Cuban National team, started off well in the first two rounds of the fight, swarming Jimenez and hitting him with blistering shots over and over. It seemed as if the fight wouldn’t go long during those two rounds because Gamboa looked light years better than Jimenez. However, when Jimenez was still standing by the 3rd round, both Gamboa’s offense and energy seemed to drop off a shade, making him look less like a future star and more like just a good fighter.

At the same time, Gamboa began to get hit with regularity by Jimenez, who took advantage of Gamboa fighting with his hands down to his side instead of held high protecting his head. This was supposed to be a bout in which Gamboa was to make a public statement in front of the huge world wide audience, many of which were seeing him for the first time.

Unfortunately, Gamboa had to be content with just getting the win, which was still impressive for a fighter with as few fights as he’s had in his early career. He doesn’t, however, appear to have the skills or power to beat top super featherweights like Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, both of whom appear a level above Gamboa at this point.

Gamboa looked flustered in the 4th round, already showing signs of fatigue, he got careless and was dropped by a right hand from Jimenez. After the knockdown, Gamboa played it safe, using side to side movement and showing Jimenez much more respect than previously. Gamboa, perhaps upset with himself and wanting to try and get back what he felt he lost in the previous round, came out on fire in the 5th round attacking Jimenez with prolonged flurries of short, weak punches.

It looked as if Gamboa was trying to overwhelm him with flurries, perhaps hoping to win by a quick stoppage like in Joe Calzaghe’s fight with Peter Manfredo Jr. Thankfully, the referee Russell Mora had his eyes opened and could see that Jimenez was ducking many of these punches and wasn’t in distress from the many that did land. Believe me, Jimenez did get hit an awful lot in the round and by the end of it, both his eyes were showing angry red swelling around each of them.

In rounds six and seven, Gamboa continued with ferocious attacks, throwing flurries of short punches and staying on top of Jimenez to prevent him from firing back with power. Most of Gamboa’s punches were the arm punch variety, but still they did damage to Jimenez, even if they weren’t the type of punches that would end up stopping Jimenez. Gamboa still was taking an occasional big shot from Jimenez, and it was made worse because the crowd would roar when this happened. With the amount of hype that has built up around Gamboa’s career, it seemed odd that he would be able to get hit as much as he did by someone like Jimenez, who isn’t ranked in the top 15, nor is he considered a top fighter in the division.

The punches that Jimenez continued to land, even though much less frequent than Gamboa’s own shots, had the effect of diminishing Gamboa as far as I’m concerned. As each round rolled by, Gamboa was looking more and more like just another good fighter but not a potential great one. At the same time, he looked less than poised at the attacks coming back at him, seeming to be flustered by Jimenez’s strong will to fight. Part of the problem was the opponents that Gamboa had previously faced, most of them the low quality variety, so that when he was suddenly put in with Jimenez ( a good fighter), Gamboa seemed out of sorts by the fact that he had someone that was actually fighting back.

Gamboa came out strong in the 7th round, attacking hard at the start of the round and seeming to be going for a knockout. It didn’t work, as Jimenez stayed in there and fired back with hard right hands that caught Gamboa flush on a few occasions in the round. Now getting frustrated with Jimenez, Gamboa angrily pushed him to the canvas twice in the round. It looked like he was being a poor sport simply because Jimenez wouldn’t fold under his pressure. Gamboa should have just been content with what he did accomplish in the round, winning it, and further reddening and swelling Jimenez’s eyes in the process.

Jimenez caught Gamboa with several hard right hands in the 8th round, one of them seemed to briefly hurt Gamboa. I was thinking for a second that Jimenez might have a chance at landing more after seeming to stun Gamboa with one particularly hard right hand, but Gamboa seemed to recover almost instantly from the shot after freezing for a second after getting hit by it. Gamboa finished the round strong, landing well, but still getting tagged every once in awhile by Jimenez.

In rounds nine and ten, Gamboa continued landing flurries of short punches, working over Jimenez’s face in the process. I was beginning to think that the fight should be stopped, for Jimenez’s face was badly swollen by this time around both eyes and he had no chance at winning the fight it seemed. Indeed, Jimenez only landed a few shots in round nine.

In the 10th, it was Gamboa, who had a big lead going into the round, which was the one going for the knockout. Gamboa unloaded with numerous punches from the start to finish of the round, hitting him with short, fast shots to the head. At the same time, he did a good job of smothering Jimenez’s punches by staying close to him, not giving him room to punch.

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