Terence Crawford stops Yuriorkis Gamboa in Round 9
Doug Fischer - ringtv.craveonline.com
Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank
HBO boxing commentator Max Kellerman described Terence Crawford as "probably the best lightweight in the world" before the undefeated switch-hitter's second appearance on the U.S. cable network in June 2013.
At the time, it was just Kellerman's usual hyperbole. The Omaha, Neb., native only had one solid victory on his resume, a 10-round decision over dangerous spoiler Breidis Prescott in a junior welterweight bout earlier in 2013.
Crawford didn't live up to Kellerman's words by stopping unknown-and-untested Alejandro Sanabria in his second HBO fight, or by shutting out Russian prospect Andrey Klimov in his third appearance on the network in October 2013. However, the 23-year-old talent is making Kellerman look clairvoyant so far in 2014.
Crawford dominated Ricky Burns in the rugged Scotsman's hometown on March 1, lifting the WBO lightweight title by unanimous decision, and on Saturday, in his hometown, he dropped undefeated Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa four times en route to an impressive and thrilling ninth-round stoppage.
Crawford showed everything a boxer must possess in order to rule his division and eventually evolve to "elite" status in the sport — athletic ability, sound fundamentals, poise, a solid chin, recuperative powers, the ability to adapt in the face of adversity and the know-how of when to turn up his intensity in the ring.
Despite the many knockdowns Crawford scored, he needed all of those ring qualities to beat Gamboa, a former two-belt featherweight titleholder who has otherworldly hand speed, ultra-quick reflexes and very good punching power.
The fight began as tactical chess match, one that was dominated by the more dynamic former amateur star. Gamboa got off first and often as he outmaneuvered Crawford during the first four rounds of the Boxing After Dark headliner. However, Crawford (24-0, 17 knockouts), who exhibited the patience of a veteran fighter, calmly switched to a southpaw stance and waited.
That composure paid off when Gamboa stepped up his agression and ran into a right hook that rocked him to his boots in Round 5. Crawford followed up with a left that put the Cuban down for the first time in the bout. Gamboa got up and went on the offensive, as he's always done during his pro career and paid for his big heart by getting nailed with 18 power shots during the round.
Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank
"I was warming up and getting used to his style in the first couple of rounds," Crawford told Kellerman after the fight. "Then I just made adjustments. I switched to southpaw because I thought I could catch him with my jab over his left. I knew I could catch him coming in because he was coming in wild."
Indeed. What began as a chess match morphed into shootout in the middle rounds. Gamboa (23-1, 16 KOs) came out of his corner firing powerful pot shots while on the move in Round 6. Crawford, however, kept his composure, landing his jab from a distance and counter punches and body shots when in close.
Gamboa remained game but he was reduced to loading up with one big shot at a time going into the late rounds and his lack of defense and fundamentals cost him. A right-left-right combination from Crawford produced a flash knockdown in Round 8, and when the two traded power shots in Round 9 (one of which seriously buzzed Crawford), Gamboa got the worst of it. An arcing left cross dropped Gamboa on his side in the middle of the round; a perfectly timed right uppercut put him down for the fourth and final time as referee Genaro Rodriguez wisely waved the fight off at 2:53 of Round 9.
"We were two warriors in the ring trying to get the victory, and he won," Gamboa said after the fight. "I was avoiding his punches early on but as time went on he got better. He recuperated from my punches."
That's what top fighters do.
Is Crawford the best lightweight out there, as Kellerman claimed one year ago? One can certainly make a good argument to support that opinion. However, Miguel Vazquez, the IBF beltholder and THE RING's current No. 1-rated lightweight, might disagree.
The two could settle the debate in the ring (and since Crawford is THE RING's No. 2-rated lightweight that bout would be for the magazine's vacant 135-pound championship), however, that's an unlikely scenario given that Vazquez signed with manager/adviser Al Haymon on Saturday, bringing in boxing politics that could keep the top two lightweights apart.
But that won't hurt Crawford's career because the boxing world learned three things about him on Saturday:
1. He's the real deal.
2. He's a regional attraction, as evidenced by the 10,000 fans who came to see him fight at the CenturyLink Center.
3. He can be in very entertaining fights.
Vazquez is the real deal but he can't claim those other two things.
"(Gamboa) caught me with a good shot (in Round 9) because I was flat footed," Crawford said of his one wobbly moment during the fight, "but I came back strong."
That's what the best do.
TERENCE CRAWFORD RETAINS WORLD TITLE
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Terence Crawford, happy to be fighting in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, for the first time as a professional, delivered a star-making performance as he knocked out Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ninth round of a thrilling fight to retain his lightweight world title Saturday night at the CenturyLink Center.
Not only did Crawford deliver the goods before 10,943 screaming fans, but he and Gamboa -- a former unified featherweight titleholder and 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist -- put on a clear fight of the contender, an intense battle in which Gamboa was knocked down four times but also rocked Crawford.
"I told Gamboa he picked the wrong fighter and the wrong city, and I was right," Crawford said. "I never felt any danger in the fight." Through a translator, Gamboa said, "There were just two warriors in the ring trying to get the victory, and he won."
It had been 42 years since there was a world title fight in Omaha -- Joe Frazier defended the heavyweight world championship against Omaha's Ron Stander, winning by fifth-round knockout at the Civic Auditorium on May 25, 1972 -- and it proved worth the wait. Crawford's victory did not come as a huge surprise, but the way it unfolded did because many expected the bout between two supremely skilled boxers to be more of a boxing match than a street fight."What we thought was going to be a tactical fight turned into a tactical brawl, which turned this crowd into a frenzy -- and they were already in a frenzy," Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said.
Crawford, 26, was fighting in his home state for only the second time as a professional and in Omaha for the first time -- a little more than three months after he went to Glasgow, Scotland, and outboxed hometown hero Ricky Burns to win a 135-pound title on a unanimous decision.
After winning the belt, Crawford wanted to make his first defense in his hometown, and promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank also wanted to bring him to Omaha, where he believes Crawford can become an attraction. Based on Saturday's result and the raucous crowd Crawford drew, he is on his way.
"We've got another center for boxing. We'll be back there before the end of the year," said Arum, who was forced to watch the fight on HBO because he is laid up in his Los Angeles home recovering from knee replacement surgery last week. "I would say 90 percent of the people who came to the fight had never been to
a prize fight. I think they'll all be back. That was so exciting."
Crawford had dreamed of fighting at home as a pro since a disappointing loss in the 2006 National Golden Gloves finals, which took place in Omaha. He turned pro in 2008 and had a breakout 2013 before winning the title in March.
"It means a lot," Crawford said of his long-awaited homecoming fight. "This is what they've been waiting on since I turned pro."
Early on, however, Crawford (24-0, 17 KOs) was having problems with Gamboa's blazing hand and foot speed. He seemingly lost at least three of the first four rounds and perhaps all four, but he never panicked -- even after turning to a southpaw stance in the third round and immediately eating several straight right hands to the head and body.
"I was warming up, getting used to his style the first couple of rounds, just wanted to test him out, see where he was and adjust," Crawford said. "After the fourth round my coach Brian McIntyre told me to keep my hands up a little more and catch him coming in."
It worked because Crawford took over in the fifth round, dropping Gamboa as he nailed him with a clean right hand and chopped him to the mat with a left.Gamboa, who is promoted by rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, was still discombobulated when Crawford unloaded another hard right hand that hurt him again in the final seconds of the round.
A counter right hand dropped Gamboa to a knee in the eighth round, a huge one for Crawford. The 32-year-old Gamboa (23-1, 16 KOs), the smaller man, who also was coming off a year layoff and was fighting as a lightweight for only the second time, was taking heavy punishment. But as much as Gamboa looked done early in the ninth round, he rallied to badly rock Crawford and send him staggering backward.
"He caught me with a good shot. I got careless. I commend him. He caught me with a good shot I wasn't ready for, and I felt I came back strong," Crawford said.
After Gamboa hurt Crawford and went on the attack, Crawford hammered him with a left hand to the chin, sending him down hard. Moments later, Crawford demolished him with a right uppercut. Gamboa went down again, and referee Genaro Rodriguez waved off the fight without a count at 2 minutes, 53 seconds.
"When you fight a shorter fighter, you attack with uppercuts. This is what we worked on during training camp," Crawford said.
According to CompuBox statistics, Crawford landed 146 of 348 punches (42 percent) and Gamboa connected on 82 of 345 (24 percent). Gamboa, a Cuban defector who lives in Miami, had that brief window of opportunity in the ninth round before the end came.
"I was avoiding some of his punches and then I was able to come back and hit him with my right and my left, but as time went on, he got better," Gamboa said. "He was able to recuperate from those punches and he was able to get back into it, and that's when he caught me again.
"I think I could have continued the fight and proved we were the champion, but the official decided to stop the fight and we respect that." Whether Crawford remains at lightweight -- not a very deep division for making a big fight -- or goes up to junior welterweight, which he said he might do, Arum said he plans to bring Crawford back to Omaha for his next fight. After that, he thinks a really big fight is in store for Crawford -- one against superstar and welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao.
"When you get a guy like Crawford, who is a great technical fighter but who also can slug, you have something special," Arum said. "He fought intelligently. Gamboa had the better of it for the first four rounds, but the kid was figuring it out and timing him and he did his job.
"Down the road -- and it's very possible -- that a year from now we put him in with Pacquiao. That would be a huge fight and a great fight. If you really think you have a great fighter with superstar qualities, you move him that way, you don't protect him. You move a superstar into the biggest fights you can
make for him, and that's what we are going to do."
Korobov outpoints Uzcategui
Highly touted southpaw middleweight Matt Korobov (24-0, 14 KOs), 31, a 2008 Olympian from Russia now based in St. Petersburg, Florida, won a lopsided 10-round decision against Jose Uzcategui (22-1, 18 KOs), 23, a Venezuelan living in Mexico, in the co-feature.
The judges had it 97-91, 97-91 and 96-92, all for Korobov, who scored two knockdowns in the seventh round, both on hard right hooks.
"We brought in big, strong, sparring with Andre Dirrell in our camp in Florida," Korobov said. "We worked on body shots, right hooks, left hooks, and all of that hurt Uzcategui."
Korobov, who is aiming for a title shot against Gennady Golovkin, also worked Uzcategui hard to the body and opened a cut over his left eye in the first round.
Uzcategui opened a cut over Korobov's right eye in the fifth round. Although referee Mark Nelson ruled the cut was the result of an accidental head clash, television replays showed it came from a punch.
According to CompuBox statistics, Korobov landed 121 of 412 punches (29 percent) and Uzcategui landed 90 of 375 (24 percent).
Terence Crawford stops Yuriorkis Gamboa in ninth round to defend WBO title
By Mike Dawes - dailymail.co.uk
Terence Crawford stopped Cuba's Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ninth round to successfully defend his WBO lightweight belt in a match of unbeaten fighters.
Crawford wobbled Gamboa with a left and knocked him down with another left earlier in the ninth, then connected with a right to the chin at the 2:53 mark, prompting referee Gino Rodriguez to call the fight.
As Rodriguez waved his arms, Crawford ran to a neutral corner and jumped on the shoulders of co-manager Brian McIntyre.
Down: Terence Crawford stopped Yuriorkis Gamboa during the night round of their WBO lightweight bout
Prize: Crawford wears the WBO lightweight belt after his victory in Omaha
The 26-year-old Crawford (24-0, 17 knockouts) was fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional, and more than 10,000 showed up at the CenturyLink Center, many of them chanting 'Craw-ford! Craw-ford!' throughout.
It was his first title defense since his 12-round unanimous decision over Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland, in March. He said he plans to move up to junior welterweight after this fight. The 32-year-old Gamboa (23-1, 16 knockouts), a 2004 Olympic champion, was fighting for the first time in a year.
Crawford took control in the middle rounds. In the fifth, Crawford knocked down Gamboa with a left to the side of his head. Crawford staggered him just before the bell with a flurry of shots, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Early ending: Crawford stopped Gamboa in the ninth round of their fight in Nebraska
Popular: Crawford is interviewed after defeating Yuriorkis Gamboa in their WBO lightweight title fight
The 5-foot-5 (1.65-metre) Gamboa, with a 5-inch reach disadvantage, had trouble working inside against Crawford. When Crawford moved in, Gamboa used his superior speed to duck under him.
Crawford landed a right to Gamboa's cheek in the second round. As the fighters went into a clinch, Gamboa put a couple quick rights to the back of Crawford's head, drawing a warning from the referee. Gamboa landed a couple stinging shots in the third, but that he never was able to hurt Crawford.
Omaha hadn't been site for a world championship fight since 1972, when Joe Frazier successfully defended his heavyweight title against Ron Stander, who was in the crowd Saturday night. In the co-main event, WBO No. 1-ranked middleweight Matt Korobov remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision over Jose Uzcatequi for that organization's intercontinental title.
Korobov (24-0) landed a hard left to the previously unbeaten Uzcatequi's nose in the first round, knocked him down twice in the fifth and put him on his knees with a body blow in the ninth. The 23-year-old Uzcatequi (22-1), who had stopped his previous five opponents, was in his first professional fight outside Mexico.