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Atlas picks Crawford to easily beat Gamboa tonight

Yuriorkis GamboaBy Dan Ambrose: In what could be a big jinx, ESPN commentator Teddy Atlas made his prediction of tonight’s clash between WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford (23-0, 16 KO’s) and Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KO’s) by picking Crawford to easily beat the 32-year-old Gamboa in their fight on HBO at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

“I like Terence Crawford. I like him to dominate,” Atlas said. “He’s the bigger guy; the naturally bigger guy, a natural lightweight. He’s good sized. Gamboa has been for the most part a featherweight. Gamboa hasn’t looked good in his last several fights. To me, there’s been a drop off in the performance of Gamboa. He just doesn’t look like the same confident fighter. He looks like a guy with an identity crisis. He’s not sure if he’s an aggressive fighter or a fighter on the outside trying to set traps. He’s caught in between. I’m going to go with the guy [Crawford] who knows who he is and what he is and that’s Terence Crawford to win that fight handily.”

It’s not that Gamboa doesn’t know who he is. It’s more of a case of him not being as confident as he once was after moving up from featherweight. He’s facing bigger guys and getting hit harder than he did previously. He also seems to have aged in the last couple of years, and doesn’t seem capable of throwing a lot of punches without tiring out. In his last fight against Darleys Perez last year in June, Gamboa threw only single shots. He was mostly just looking to land a punch here and there while staying out the outside for the entire 12 rounds. It was Gamboa fighting totally defensively and not taking advantage of his advantage in hand speed and power over Perez.

If Gamboa isn’t able to let his hands go tonight, he’s going to get outworked by a wide margin by the taller 5’8” Crawford. Gamboa, 5’5 ½”, has the talent to easily overcome Crawford’s size and reach advantage, and he’s definitely faster and stronger than him. But Gamboa will still lose the fight if he fails to throw enough punches, because Crawford is someone who can throw shots all night long without tiring out, and he’s obviously going to be looking to land as many shots as he can against Gamboa.

His trainer has likely see that Gamboa is no longer throwing a lot of punches per round at this point in his career, and can be outworked. The Gamboa that easily beat Orlando Salido in 2010 would have been a big problem for Crawford, because Gamboa was still throwing a lot of punches back then.

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