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Crawford vs. Gamboa: Don’t be surprised if Yuriorkis wins tonight

Yuriorkis GamboaBy Dan Ambrose: Most of the boxing world is picking the bigger, younger and more defensive WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford (23-0, 16 KO’s) to successfully defend his title tonight against the shorter, older and more experience Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KO’s) at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

But we might see an upset with Gamboa getting the better of Crawford on the inside with quick combinations and hard power shots. Gamboa has had months to get ready for this fight, and he’s obviously had an earful about how he needs to increase his work rate to defeat the counter punching Crawford.

Gamboa knows that he can’t fight Crawford the way he did his last opponent Darleys Perez last year in June, because throwing pot shots won’t work in this fight because Crawford has the longer reach and he’ll be looking to outwork Gamboa. But people seem to forget that Gamboa is an excellent counter puncher as well, and anything that Crawford throws in this fight, Gamboa will be looking to fire back with something of his own. When you’ve got the superior hand speed and power the way that Gamboa does for this fight, you have to figure that he’s going to get the better of Crawford much of the time.

Crawford looked decent but hardly great in his win over Ricky Burns last March. He showed some skills, but he didn’t worlds better than Burns. Raymundo Beltran did a better job against Burns than Crawford did, and landed the more punishing shots. The same way with Dejan Zlaticanin. This suggests that Crawford doesn’t have the kind of power or offensive game to really dominate guys the way he needs to. He’s just a simple counter puncher who happens to be big for the lightweight division.

Matched against a guy with better hand speed, a good inside game, and excellent power like Gamboa, we could see Crawford exposed tonight for the first time. Breidis Prescott dominated Crawford in the first 5 rounds of their fight last year in a fight that was a lot closer than two of the judges had it scored.

Prescott outworked Crawford in the first 5 rounds, but then failed to keep throwing a lot of shots and this enabled Crawford to come back and win a decision. The scores from two of the judges were ridiculous for that fight in giving Crawford the win by the scores of 100-90 and 99-91. Crawford is promoted by Top Rank and the scores weren’t based on reality in that fight.

If Gamboa can throw enough shots and stay close to Crawford tonight to prevent him from using his long reach, we could see a quick knockout. I think it’s possible for Gamboa to dominate Crawford if he gives him no punching room.

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