Sunday 20th August 2017,
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The Rise and Fall of Yuri Gamboa

The Rise and Fall of Yuri Gamboa

It is one of life’s hard truths–nothing is guaranteed. And was with most hard truths, it is even more true in the brutal sport of boxing.

It was not so very long ago that Yuriorkis Gamboa was on almost everybody’s list of future superstars. The Cuban won gold medals at the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 World Cup. He turned professional in 2007.

By 2010 had started to amass a highlight reel of dominant performances over very good opponents. He handed Jonathan Victor Barros his first professional loss via one-sided decision in March 2010. In September of that year, he thoroughly outclassed veteran contender Orlando Salido. In 2011 he knocked out Jorge Solis and Daniel Ponce De Leon, a pair of long-time stars in the featherweight division.

Gamboa was not just beating good opponents. He was doing it in exciting, dominating fashion. He had the agility of a cat and the explosive power of a hand grenade.

But that four-fight run in 2010 and 2011 would prove to be the high point of his career. After winning decisions over Michael Farenas (December 2012) and Darleys Perez (June 2013) he took on Terence Crawford in June 2014.

It could have been the fight that cemented his legend. Instead, it was the fight that made Crawford a star. Gamboa’s speed seemed to give Crawford problems over the first four rounds, but the American made good technical adjustments and figured out how to exploit his larger frame. He dropped Gamboa in Round 5. He knocked him down again in the eighth and twice more in the ninth and final round.

Gamboa won three fights after that loss, but none of them against a significant opponent. In December 2012, I saw him decision Hylon Williams in Verona, New York. In the press section, more than a few writers commented on how strange it was to see Gamboa placed so far down in the preliminary bouts.

Last Friday night, Gamboa was knocked down twice by Robinson Castellanos and stopped in his corner following Round 7. Castellanos is a tough, veteran fighter. But he’s essentially a journeyman, with a career record of 24-12 with 14 KOs.

He is nobody you would have expected to beat Yuri Gamboa, at least not a few years ago. But, of course, nothing in boxing is guaranteed.

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