Terence Crawford wanted to impress the hometown rooters in his native Omaha, taking on former future star Yuriorkis Gamboa, the Cuban pugilist-specialist who has been inactive for a bunch of reasons. They clashed Saturday night, on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
Gamboa came out speedy and sharp, but Crawford went lefty, and his skills started being showcased. Knockdowns in the fifth, eighth, and then two in the ninth closed ther show for the hometowner, who showed a cool nastiness in tight on the undersized loser. The end came at 2:53, on the second knockdown, and the crowd in "Crawfordville," as Jim Lampley called it, praised the victor to the roof of the joint.
Bud went 146-348 to 82-345. Gamboa started strong but faded a bit, and Crawford started timing the ex star of the future, who now will be on the list in coming years when analysts talk about athletes who didn't reach their pro potential, possibly, if he doesn't right his course.
The winner said he had to figure out Gamboa, get his timing down, and then he got to work. To Max Kellerman, he said he caught the Cuban coming in, and that he knew he could do better with the jab from the lefty stance. Gamboa did catch him late, as he was careless, Crawford said, but he came back strong. He said he was happy to do it at home. Next? That's up to co-manager Cameron Dunkin and Brian MacIntire. The kid comes off as beyond humble and decent, I must say.
Max then talked to Gamboa. The loser said there were two warriors in the ring, and he didn't win. Gamboa was asked how he came roaring back after getting hurt a few times. He said as time went on, Bud got better, after Yuri had some luck. Is he the best Gamboa has fought? No, and he could have continued, he stated. But he respects the call by the ref, for a TKO.
Crawford ( 26; 134 ¾-152 fight night) held the WBO lightweight crown, while Gamboa (32; 134 ½-145 fight night) said that he’d be regaining his lost buzz by snagging that title. They both came in at 23-0 with 16 KOs.
In the first, 10,943 fans screamed for their “Bud.” Gamboa, off for a year, shot a sharp right which sent Bud back two steps. Bud landed some counters, maybe relaxing some late. Rights to the body by Gamboa stood out for me.
In the second, Yuri looked smaller, yes, but oh so cool. He hurled the right to the body, then backed up, re-assessed, jabbed to the body, moved laterally, kept Bud from settling in. Gamboa’s combo late, a three punch special, impressed. Team Bud asked for overhand rights, and tipped him off that Yuri bounces before he strikes.
In the third, Yuri was in flurry mode. Bud went lefty, and ate a nasty right. He stayed lefty, and scored some counters at the close. Roy Jones opined that the lefty stance was a bad idea, then changed his tune, and said Bud did it as well as Marvin Hagler, maybe.
In the fourth, Gamboa knew to work the right against the lefty stance. The Cuban danced, but ate a couple lefts. His jab started clicking some and we saw swelling on Yuri’s left eye.
In the fifth, the distance closed. Rights by Gamboa buzzed the crowd. A counter then put Gamboa down, off a right hand, after a right hook. Two power rights and a left hook almost did the same.
In the sixth, Bud ate on the ropes after Yuri rushed him, guns blazing. Crawford was now so accurate and confident. In the seventh, the same, with Bud peering at Yuri, looking predatory. Both hands worked for Bud.
In the eighth, counters put Gamboa down, as Bud was working righty. Gamboa was out of it nearly at the end of the round, from a trade. Right hooks were hurting the Cuban in a big way.
In the ninth, Bud got hurt, as Yuri kept flurrying, undersized but plucky. A left hook sent Yuri down, with 36 seconds left. A right upper sent him down, and that was it for the Cuban.
Omaha, on this night, was as jazzed as could be, content in the knowledge that "they" did it. One man with two fists and ambition can sometimes do that to a whole city, ain't boxing grand? At times, anyway...
This fight was a coin flip going in, and once again proves the point that when suits make pick em fights, quite often, good things happen. Drama ensues, fans are entertained, it is a formula begging for rinse and repeat.
--- Photo Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank