It was target practice at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, with poor Rogers Mtagwa being the designated victim who played punching bag.
In the TV opener of HBO's Boxing After Dark, Yuriorkis Gamboa (126; age 28; from Cuba; 17-0) met platinum journeyman Mtagwa (122 1/2; age 30; 26-14), the Tanzanian who was within one finishing blow from pulling the upset of 2009 when he scored the dickens out of Juan Manuel Lopez in October. But this night went off the rails from the opening bell for the African, who couldn't pick up Gamboa's tosses, and couldn't process them when they landed, which they did often and hard.
Gamboa clanged home lead rights high on Mtagwa's head from the start. A left hook wobbled the underdog, and Gamboa's confidence was sky high in the opening round. Mtagwa went down from a left hook with ten seconds left in the round and he went back to his corner knowing that Gamboa was a different animal than JuanMa. His hand speed and footwork is a step above.
In the second, Gamboa had Mtagwa backing up, pained and confused. A lead right had him teetering. A five punch set sent Mtagwa to the mat at the 1:10 mark. He fell on his butt after eating a parcel more, and the ref, Steve Smoger saw enough. He stepped in, and called it a night.
The end came at 2:35.
The stats: Gamboa went 53-107, with nearly everything being thrown with assaultive intent. Mtagwa went 10-57 on the abbreviated night.
SPEEDBAG I've been under the impression that his name is "Rogers" but HBO called him Roger. Did they eff up, or have I been under a mistaken impression? If HBO was off, then you have to feel that much worse for Matgwa; he got hammered like a nail, and they didn't even get his name right...
---Miguel Cotto said a June 12 fight Yuri Foreman isn't a done deal, after Bob Papa referred to the match as a certainty.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV