HBO BAD - September 11, 2010

Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Orlando Salido

Anthony Peterson vs. Brandon Rios

Erratic Gamboa Stays Unbeaten

Sep 12, 2010

If there's anybody who can stop Yuriorkis Gamboa on his path to a mega-showdown next year with Juan Manuel Lopez, he has yet to show his face.

Certainly it wasn't Orlando Salido. The Mexican, like 18 others before him, proved no match for the dynamic Gamboa Saturday night, as the unbeaten Cuban won a unanimous decision in a wild fight in which both fighters were knocked down. Although Gamboa dominated on the scorecards, he exhibited many of the reckless qualities which critics say will be his undoing when he faces the hard-hitting Lopez.
Gamboa (19-0, 15 KOs) was wildly inconsistent, yet always typically dynamic, relying on his blinding speed and bullying tactics to win most of the rounds. The scorecards had it at a bit wider margin than the fight seemed to indicate, with the judges giving it to Gamboa 116-109, 114-109, and 115-109.

Based on last night's erratic performance, one has to wonder if Gamboa is ready for Lopez, a much more disciplined champion.

The seasoned veteran Salido (34-11-2, 22 KOs) was clearly the biggest test of the 28-year-old Gamboa's young career, and seemed to frustrate the Cuban as the rounds moved on by hanging with him. "Without a doubt this was the toughest fight I've ever had," Gamboa told HBO's Max Kellerman. "Every time I hit him he came back looking to fight more."

Gamboa seemed almost to be in training for Lopez during the first four rounds when he demonstrated the kind of discipline and defense he will need to beat the Puerto Rican. Gamboa fought from the outside, using his speed advantage to pile up points, and keeping his hands up to fend off counters. It was not the all-out, hell-bent style Gamboa prefers, but it's what he will need to show he can do to handle Lopez.

But then perhaps unnerved by Salido's ability to take his best punches and keep on coming, Gamboa's strategy seemed to come unraveled and he reverted to relying on his athleticism and raw aggressiveness. The result was that starting in the fifth round Gamboa fought with reckless abandon and was getting hit more than he should. Had some of Salido's punches been thrown by the heavy hands of Lopez (29-0, 26 KOs) he may not have survived.

Salido was credited with a knockdown in round eight, although Gamboa said afterwards he simply lost his balance. To his credit, Gamboa held tough when Salido seemed to be coming on in the middle rounds. He staggered the Mexican with a ferocious combination of power punches in round 10 and followed that with a 30-second power blitz in the 11th which almost took Salido out. The final round was vintage Gamboa, a wild, eccentric display of raw power and speed which saw him knock down Salido and then foolishly move in on him and punch him behind the head when he was down, causing referee Joe Cortez to deduct two points from the Cuban for an intentional foul.

What's next for Gamboa? It probably doesn't really matter as long as the opponent's name isn't Juan Manuel Lopez. The unbeaten Puerto Rican star said in a report this week, "We expect to fight Gamboa next year, in February or March, but Gamboa has to get to this point without losing." So does Lopez. Lopez will have to beat a stiff challenge from Rafael Marquez on Nov. 6. Both Gamboa and Lopez fight under the Top Rank banner, so it would be a relatively easy fight to make. Based on last night's erratic performance, one has to wonder if Gamboa is ready for Lopez, a much more disciplined champion.

In the co-feature Brandon Rios (25-0-1, 18 KOs) established himself as a young force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division, beating previously unbeaten and highly-touted prospect Anthony Peterson (30-1, 20 KOs) on a 7th round disqualification for repeated low blows. Even without the DQ, Rios was well on his way to victory, ahead on all three scorecards 68-62.

Peterson won the first round by boxing from the outside with his long arms, but in the second Rios took the fight inside and kept up the pressure from then on. Peterson seemed to abandon his game plan of boxing outside with his long reach and hand speed, playing right into Rios' inside power game, getting repeatedly rocked by the 24 year-old from Oxnard, CA. Peterson sensed the tide was turning against him by the middle rounds, which may have prompted him to throw what appeared to be repeated intentional low blows in both the sixth and seventh rounds. "I saw in the first round he couldn't do nothing so it raised my confidence," Rios said. "I felt his power and knew he wouldn't hurt me so I said why not go for it all out."

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