If you based your view on boxing on what you see on the eleven o’clock news, you would think that the sport only existed in May and September. If you follow the sweet science a little more closely than that, you would know that boxing is alive and well not only in the world but here in the United States. With HBO, Showtime, ESPN and other smaller networks broadcasting on a regular basis, if you look for it, you would find two men and more rarely, two women, punching each other in the face.
Although the majority of the fights shown on TV are from either casinos in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, Native American reservations all in-between or major arenas in big cities, this Saturday night we got a rarity from HBO. From the Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska, the heartland of America, hometown hero Terence “Bud” Crawford defended his WBO lightweight title for the first time against Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa with an impressive performance in a scheduled twelve rounder. After struggling in the first third of the fight with Gamboa’s quick hands and awkward style, Crawford settled down and set up from a southpaw stance to drop Gamboa four times. Every knockdown was spectacular as Gamboa tasted the canvas once in the fifth, once in the eighth and twice in the ninth before referee Genaro “Gino” Rodriguez waived off the bout to protect the tough Gamboa. The fight marked the first time in forty-two years a belt was contested in the “Gateway to the West”. The last time, heavyweight champ Joe Frazier defended against local Ron Stander from the city’s Civic Auditorium. Frazier stopped him in five rounds.
According to Bob Arum, chief of Top Rank, the Century Link Center had been scaled down for a smaller crowd but still was able to put together a little more than ten thousand locals supporting their hometown hero. Crawford had not fought near his hometown in over three years when he stopped Anthony Mora in one round. Arum mentioned he is looking to make the Midwest City a hotbed for Crawford as long as he keeps winning.
The “Guantanamo Cyclone”, as Gamboa is known, is the latest boxing story of a talent not reaching his maximum potential. A gold medalist in 2004, Gamboa shot up the boxing world with his exciting style of quick hands, quick feet and power in both hands. With a questionable chin, Gamboa was considered a high rising star, featured on HBO several times, because he would go down but quickly get up and beat his opponents. Troubles with promoters, managers and a questionable history with PEDs as well as inactivity put Gamboa on the fringes of the highest level of the sport. Signed to 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions, with a win here Gamboa would have established himself once again as a major player in the sport and hoped for bigger and better opportunities but those plans went the way of his luck when he was dropped those four times.
What is next for Gamboa? Only time and 50 Cent, who walked out of the venue before his fighter reached his feet, know…