Yuriorkis Gamboa unifies titles

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Yuriorkis Gamboa unifies titles

Red-hot featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa continues to bide his time in waiting for a superfight with Juan Manuel Lopez to materialize, staying busy with a convincing 12-round decision over Orlando Salido on Saturday evening at The Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The win earned Gamboa his second alphabet title at featherweight, on a night that was dedicated to John Arum, the late son of Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum who died last week at the age of 49 in a hiking accident just outside of Seattle.

Eyebrows were raised when Gamboa was listed as an 11-1 betting favorite over the durable Salido, but the Cuban blue chipper justified the wide margin from the opening bell. The difference in speed, skills and overall talent was overwhelming, as Gamboa dazzled his fellow titlist with jabs, right hands and left hooks while taking very little in return.Salido danced as hard as he could to make a competitive fight out if, charging forward in the second but often coming up empty. Gamboa fought a far more disciplined fight than is usually the case, playing smart defense and coming back with hooks to the body and flurries upstairs.

Gamboa fronted like he wanted to end matters in the third, charging off of his stool and tagging Salido with repeated head shots, but unable to land the type of blow that could send everyone home early.

The sequence proved telling, as the next three rounds became an awkward affair. Both fighters received warnings over the course of the fourth and fifth rounds for roughhouse tactics, the type of fight favored Salido, who tried to make a fight of it midway through.

As the second half began, Gamboa came out with renewed energy, taking the fight to Salido but suddenly easing off of the gas and returned to boxing and dancing. The most memorable sequence of the seventh came after the bell. Both fighters connected, though Gamboa’s was more visible (and also the last to land), drawing a warning from referee Joe Cortez.

Both fighters came out energized for the eighth. Gamboa jumped off to a strong start, but suffered a mental lapse just long enough to get clipped with a counter shot from Salido the resulted in the fifth knockdown of his young career.

Gamboa smirked as he rose to his feet, but Salido gave him reasons to take the fight seriously with several landed power shots once action resumed, offering the suggestion that he was more hurt than he let on. His corner certainly sensed it, demanding that he didn’t need to do anything other than box.

The Cuban listened to some degree, mixing boxing and finessing in the ninth, but not offering much in the way of activity. Salido did enough to close the gap on the scorecards, but Gamboa settled down and chose his punches wisely in the tenth.

Salido continued to charge forward, but Gamboa’s left hooks and overhand rights were enough to control the tempo and keep his opponent one step behind. Consecutive left hooks had Salido in considerable trouble, but managed to stay on his feet (save for a brief slip) long enough to survive the round.

Finally realizing that he could hurt his foe, Gamboa fought with a greater sense of urgency in the 11th. Unfortunately, the spurt was short-lived, as an accidental clash of heads left Salido with a cut along his forehead which required a brief exam from the ringside physician.

To his credit, Gamboa didn’t allow the unexpected break in the action to interrupt his rhythm. If anything, he offered some of his best work of the night once the bout resumed, screaming “ahhh” every time he landed a punch, which was quite often in the round.

Gamboa connected even more in the 12th and final round, although one sequence –and the ineptitude of Joe Cortez – nearly cost him the fight. 

Salido was twice sent to the canvas in the round, but only once was officially ruled a knockdown. Gamboa floored his opponent for the first time in the night with a right hand upstairs and left hook underneath .

For whatever reason, Salido vehemently protested, even going so far as to shove his hand at the referee, though not receiving a warning. He would instead absorb more punishment, with Gamboa scoring with repeated head shots, including a right and a left-right combo that sent Salido to the canvas for the second time.

However, because Cortez was so badly out of position, the sequence was never ruled a knockdown, nor was Gamboa ordered to back off and move to a neutral corner. In the spirit of protecting himself at all times, the Cuban continued to throw until instructed to stop doing so.

By the time Cortez moved into position to intervene, the knockdown was missed and the way-past-his-prime third man instead docked two points for what was ruled an intentional foul.

Fortunately for Gamboa, it wasn’t enough to severely impact his massive lead on the official cards at the end of the night. Scores were 116-109, 114-109 and 115-109 for the 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and now unified featherweight titlist, who improves overall to 19-0 (15KO) with the distance win.


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