Can Yuriorkis Gamboa Go One Better Than Juan Manuel Lopez And Stop Rogers Mtagwa?

by James Slater - When they fought back on October 10th, super-bantamweights Juan Manuel Lopez and Rogers Mtagwa put on a fight that was so good it got mentioned as a possible fight of the year. A big underdog going in, Tanzania's 30-year-old Mtagwa took "Juanma" the full 12-rounds and, more impressively, had him on the verge of a stoppage in the final round of their WBO title fight war.

Mtagwa fell to 26-13-2(18) when the UD was awarded to the Puerto Rican sensation, and "The Tiger" demanded a rematch.. Well, as good as a second fight between those two exciting fighters would be, it now looks as though Mtagwa will wind up facing another possible star of the future - Yuriorkis Gamboa, the man who co-headlined the October card with Lopez.

That night, Gamboa dealt with Whyber Garcia in far easier fashion than Lopez dealt with his challenger, with Gamboa retaining his WBA featherweight strap with a 4th-round KO. Gamboa and Lopez are on a collision course, no doubt, but before they meet in a real mouth-watering fight next year some time, they are set (according to Box Rec) to appear on a further doubleheader.

Lopez will make the move, as expected, to 126, and fight WBO featherweight champ Steve Luevano on the scheduled bill that is set for New York on January 23rd, and Gamboa will make the second defence of his title against Mtagwa. So what all fans watching will want to see is whether or not the Cuban hotshot can handle Mtagwa easier than Lopez was able to.

We don't know how much the quite brutal fight with "Juanma" took out of the 30-year-old, and we don't know if he was made to look better than he actually is due to Lopez having underestimated him and having been weakened due to struggling to make weight. But, all that aside, if Gamboa, 16-0(14) CAN defeat Mtagwa in more impressive style than Lopez did - by a KO especially - he will have gained himself some serious points when it comes to who people think will win when he and the Puerto Rican southpaw bomber eventually meet.

But could Mtagwa, as tough as they come despite having been stopped twice as a pro - by Valdemir Pereira in 2004 and by Orlando Salido in 2006 - actually cause the shock and upset Gamboa? Bob Arum's big plans for the already eagerly anticipated Gamboa-Lopez fight would be somewhat spoilt if this did happen, that's for sure!

The weight doesn't figure to affect Mtagwa all that much. He fought Lopez down at 122, but in the past, going back as far as the early 2000s, he has fought and won up as high as 127-pounds. Maybe, and here's a thought, Mtagwa will be stronger against Gamboa at featherweight than he was against Lopez at super-bantam?

Another instalment of the Gamboa/Lopez doubleheader show is a great idea, but on this occasion the Cuban star is the man with the more attractive fight. As was the case with Lopez before he met Mtagwa, Gamboa has not yet gone 12-rounds. Will this change on Jan. 23rd? Or will "El Ciclon de Guantanamo" make a big statement by taking Mtagwa out inside the distance?

Either way, an exciting fights looks set to take place.

Article posted on 28.10.2009

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