"The most important thing in professional boxing is mental," says trainer Ismael Salas. "And I have seen good improvement from Gamboa
Whether Salido has enough to beat Gamboa, or even last the distance, is open for debate. Gamboa is a veritable wrecking machine, a blur of speed and power who assaults you non-stop every minute of every round. All of Gamboa's punches are thrown with bad intentions. An orthodox fighter, Gamboa's thudding left hooks make it impossible to concentrate on staying away from his crushing right hand. If Salido tries to put some distance between him and Gamboa by sliding sideways or backing up, the Cuban will run him down with fast feet. Unlike an Antonio Margarito or Alfredo Angulo, Gamboa doesn't stalk opponents; he rushes them like a bull, throwing both hands as he comes. That tactic will make it very difficult for Salido to counterpunch because with so much power and hand speed coming his way the Mexican will be forced to play defense to avoid a knockdown.
In some ways Gamboa's ultra-aggressive style makes him perhaps even more explosive than Pacquiao. Under trainer Freddie Roach, Pacquiao has developed a style in which he swarms you with rapid multiple punches, then darts away and boxes from a distance. In contrast, once Gamboa gets to you, he'll stick like glue, throwing everything but the kitchen sink until you clinch or try in vain to get away. If Gamboa brings his A-game on Sept. 11, doesn't showboat or get reckless on defense, Salido could be in for a long, painful night. Or perhaps a short one.
The co-feature is an intriguing matchup of unbeaten young lightweights, Brandon Rios (24-0-1, 18 KOs) and Anthony Peterson (30-0, 20 KOs). This fight will be a proving ground for both as neither fighter has a quality opponent on his record. Rios's last four victims had a combined 27 defeats between them while Peterson's had 42. Both, however, show enormous promise.
Rios's best asset is his power, with 18 of his victories coming by way of knockout, including his last six fights. The 24-year old is a very polished boxer on offense, showing sharp technique, good punching form and balance. Rios has all the tools to be a top fighter. His hands are fast; he has power in both fists, throws a lot of combos and has a wicked upper cut. He also has a quality team behind him, including Top Rank and manager Cameron Dunkin, who has a long history of taking young talent and molding them into champions. Defensively, however, Rios is still a work in progress.
The 25-year-old Peterson has even more hand speed than Rios and throws hard combos to the head and body. His greatest advantage might be the freakishly long reach he has for a lightweight. Peterson's wing span is 74 inches, which by way of comparison is more than each of the four current super middleweight champions. The biggest chink in his armor is a defense that is even worse than Rios's. Peterson gets hit. A lot. And he doesn't move all that much in the ring. Also factoring into the equation is the year Peterson had to take off between 2008 and 2009 to rehab a left knee. Since returning, he has had only two fights for a combined total of 13 rounds.
Despite their flaws, both appear to have potentially a big upside because of their solid amateur backgrounds. Peterson was a national Golden Gloves champion, while Rios made the 2004 Olympic team as an alternate. No matter who wins, this should be an action-packed fight because both boxers are highly aggressive.