Friday, June 02, 2023  |


Gamboa has no trouble with reluctant Rojas

Fighters Network

Yuriorkis Gamboa (right) was in command against overmatched Jose Rojas from beginning to end Saturday in Primm, Nevada. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

Yuriorkis Gamboa won what the WBA is calling its featherweight title against a guy who had fought only once in two years and barely put up a fight on Saturday in Primm, Nevada.

That’s no reflection on the Cuban defector, though. Gamboa (15-0, 13 knockouts) took an important step toward fighting true contenders in the near future, not pretenders like Jose Rojas, who was stopped at 1:31 of the 10th round.

Gamboa, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, dominated Rojas (25-7-1, 17 KOs) from beginning to end with his striking quickness and energy even though the Venezuelan, a southpaw and slick defensive fighter, was more committed to surviving than exchanging punches.

Gamboa didn’t land an inordinate number of meaningful shots only because Rojas bobbed and weaved and ran the entire night, although Rojas did go down in the fifth round from a right.

The Cuban’s famously suspect chin also wasn’t tested because his opponent landed so few solid punches.

Still, Gamboa, only 15 fights into his pro career, looked impressive. He fought patiently and methodically, clearly confident that he would ultimately break down his overmatched opponent. In the end, when the referee had seen enough and stopped it, Rojas’ right eye was closed shut and his face a battered mess.

Gamboa, leading 90-80, 90-81 and 89-81, had reason to be pleased.

“He knew the fight was going to end, he knew it wasn’t going the distance,” Gamboa said.

Rojas, somehow ranked No. 2 by the WBA going into the fight, has a victory over Celestino Caballero (2003) and a draw against Chris John (2004) on his resume. However, at 37 and rusty, he obviously is no longer a legitimate contender and had no business in the ring with Gamboa.

Nevertheless, Gamboa, ranked No. 3 going into the fight, is a now titleholder after the WBA inexplicably elevated its champion, John, to “super” champion to make room at the top. The No. 1 spot was vacant.

Obviously, the move was made to take advantage of Gamboa’s growing prominence and put money into the sanctioning body’s coffers. That and the fact it had Rojas ranked No. 2 makes the WBA look utterly foolish.

Gamboa would like to fight John, which would give him an opportunity to prove himself against one of the best boxers in the world, but he’ll have to wait. John is scheduled to face Rocky Juarez in a rematch on June 27 in Los Angeles.

Gamboa’s time will come, though. He proved that Saturday even under unfortunate circumstances.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]