Weekend Review: Big nights for Gamboa, Lopez, Tamara
Yuriorkis Gamboa (right) had Rogers Mtagwa reeling throughout their short fight on Saturday night. Photo / Emily Harney-FightWireImages
Yuriorkis Gamboa: I don’t want to anoint Gamboa the next great fighter after his two-round demolition of Rogers Mtagwa on Saturday in New York City, particularly after writing that we make snap judgments too often. That said, WOW! Gamboa looked like a complete package at least on one night, showing the speed, power and poise of a true star. His punches were accurate and extremely punishing, the result being three knockdowns. Yes, Mtagwa’s aggressive style was made for a puncher like Gamboa. Still, the Tanzanian is a very rugged fighter who had given Juan Manuel Lopez hell in his previous fight. Gamboa’s performance was simply spectacular.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Juan Manuel Lopez: Lopez didn’t dazzle the crowd or television audience quite the way Gamboa did but also turned in a very impressive performance. The Puerto Rican star dominated a slick, experienced southpaw even though he was moving up in weight, which is saying a lot. Lopez patiently and methodically broke down the Californian and then took him out with two devastating rights in the seventh round, an emphatic end to a great night. Just like that, Lopez regained any ground he might’ve lost in his narrow victory over Mtagwa in October and set up a fascinating matchup with Gamboa – if and when it happens.
Lopez vs. Gamboa: Promoter Bob Arum urged those of us who would like to see Lopez and Gamboa fight immediately to do something unnatural and possibly illegal to ourselves. He said those people can, “Go (expletive) themselves.” I understand that Arum wants his two young featherweights to build their reputations, which would make for an even bigger showdown later on. However, what he’s saying is that he wants safer fights for Lopez and Gamboa. Is that what boxing needs? Safer fights? I love the idea of two young, immensely talented, undefeated fighters facing one another while they're hot rather than hoping they’ll get hotter. Maybe it’s just me. By the way, after Gamboa’s performance on Saturday, I don’t see him losing to Lopez.
Rogers Mtagwa: Everything that Mtagwa built in his sensational performance against Lopez came crashing down against Gamboa on Saturday. He was outclassed, overmatched and overwhelmed against a far superior fighter. Mtagwa shouldn’t be written off but that was a giant step backward. Perhaps his poor performance lends credence to the notion that Lopez was weakened because he had difficulty making 122 pounds, meaning maybe Mtagwa wasn’t as good as he looked that night. Also, Mtagwa weighed only 122¾ for the 126-pound fight. He’ll probably go back down to junior featherweight and try to rebuild.
Carlos Tamara: The thing that struck me about the Tamara-Brian Viloria fight on Saturday in the Philippines was how fierce and fresh the New Jersey-based Colombian was in the final round of a taxing fight, the round in which he stopped Viloria and took his junior flyweight title. To me, Tamara looked like an incredibly determined fighter who was thinking: “I’m just not leaving this ring without that belt.” Those who have followed Tamara knew going in that he was no pushover. He’s experienced – having fought once before for a major title – and tough. Now everyone knows how formidable he is.
Brian Viloria losing: Viloria was told by Sugar Ray Leonard after he first won a major title that holding onto the belt will be much harder than winning it. The former U.S. Olympian had another harsh reminder of that Saturday in the Philippines. Viloria worked very hard to regain his status as an elite fighter after struggling in 2006 and 2007 and succeeded, stopping Ulises Solis to regain a title. Now this. Viloria rebuilt once before; he can do it again if he wants to. The good news is that he’s apparently OK. He collapsed in his dressing room after the fight and was rushed to a hospital, where doctors reportedly determined he suffered no permanent damage.
Mayweather-Mosley negotiations: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley’s representatives have been in talks for about a week and there’s no sign of a pending announcement. A report several days ago indicated that negotiations were going well. A more-recent report, on Examiner.com, cited a source close to Mayweather saying the fighter might be balking because he would make much less money fighting Mosley than he would’ve made fighting Pacquiao, whom Mayweather apparently deems the more beatable of the two. I hope that source is wrong. If he’s not, Mayweather will have the distinction of spoiling two huge events in a span of about a month. He might never live that down.
MOST DISTURBING NEWS
Erik Morales coming out of retirement: The former Mexican star was a great fighter, probably a first-ballot hall of famer. I miss his fire and unusual ability. However, the man has lost his last four fights and five of six, including two knockouts by Pacquiao. I was never more certain that a fighter should retire after his final fight, a decision against tough, but limited David Diaz in August of 2007. Now, ESPN.com reported, he will face Jose Alfaro in a welterweight bout on March 27 in Mexico and plans to fight beyond that. I support his right to fight if he meets the medical requirements but I don’t like it, which is the case whenever a badly faded star refuses to face reality.
Amir Khan fighting Marcos Maidana: I believe Khan is the most-talented 140-pounder in the world but I still wonder about his chin, which dramatically came into question when he was knocked out by Breidess Prescott in 2008. So who does the Briton get to defend his title against on April 17? One of the biggest punchers around, Marcos Maidana, who pounded the spirit out of another hot young prospect in Victor Ortiz last year. The Argentine has 26 KOs in his 27 victories. Khan probably will win because of his superior boxing ability but the odds say he’s going to get tagged once or twice. It will be fascinating to see what happens. This fight isn't set in stone. Khan is trying to get an exemption from the WBA to fight Juan Manuel Marquez first.
Antonio Margarito possibly regaining a license: The Mexican slugger has the right to reapply for a boxing license after the minimum one-year suspension he was given in California for having loaded wraps. Arum, his promoter, is confident Texas will license Margarito to fight on the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey undercard on March 13 in Dallas. I also understand that Arum doesn’t want Margarito to re-apply in California, where the promoter doesn’t feel his client was treated fairly. If Margarito didn’t know trainer Javier Capetillo inserted the illegal pads in his wraps, as he claims, then I think a one-year suspension is sufficient. If he did know, then the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. And I, as well as most fighters I talked to, believe he had to know. Arum reportedly wants Pacquiao to fight Margarito this year.
Arum, on a potential Lopez-Gamboa showdown: “I want to hear you guys ask me that question [about when they’ll fight] over and over and over. Because then I know they’re taking care of their business and we’re doing our jobs. They’re terrific young fighters and terrific kids, but this fight is going to be huge one day. If I just threw them in there now, yeah, you’d love it and it would be a great fight, but it wouldn’t do the kind of business it’s going to do a while from now. Believe me when I tell you, down the road a fight between these two guys is going to be huge. You watch.”