By James Slater: Rap megastar turned boxing promoter 50 Cent, along with Floyd Mayweather Junior and the TMT team, has his first card all set for November 17th. Set to go out live on Showtime, the quality card will feature the ring returns of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Andre Dirrell.
Cuban sensation Gamboa, inactive since his Sept. 2011 TD win over Daniel Ponce De Leon due to the legal issues that followed his decision to leave Top Rank, will face defending IBF super-featherweight champ Juan Carlos Salgado. 30-year-old Gamboa, 21-0(16) is far too good and exciting a fighter to have been kept out of action for so long and his return will be eaten up by eager fans. A solid match-up, the IBF title clash could have fireworks.
Mexico’s Salgado, 26-1-1(16) smashed his way onto the world stage with a sizzling 1st-round TKO over then WBA super-featherweight champ and expected future star Jorge Linares in October of 2009, and after a 12th-round TKO loss to Japan’s Takashi Uchiyama the 27-year-old bounced back to take the IBF 130-pound belt with a points win over Argenis Mendez of The Dominican Republic. Sine then, Salgado has made three retentions (one fight ruled a No Contest due to a clash of heads). The Mexican can fight and he can punch and he will be looking to spoil Gamboa’s return.
If ring-rust proves to be a problem for Gamboa (out for 14 months), Salgado, who last boxed this past Saturday (a 12-round UD over Jonathan Victor Barros), could score the biggest win of his nine-year pro career. Gamboa has to be my pick to win, though. After a few early problems, Gamboa will get his timing back and should be able to win clearly on points. A stoppage would be a real bonus for the Cuban.
Dirrell, the former WBC super-middleweight title challenger (losing on points to Carl Froch in the “Super Six” tournament, back in October of 2009) gets another chance to become a champion, as he faces Ireland’s tough and gutsy Brian Magee for the vacant WBA 168-pound belt. The slick southpaw with the 20-1(14) record last boxed in December of 2011 (a points win over Darryl Cunningham) and that fight was the first fight for “The Matrix” since his controversial DQ win over Arthur Abraham.
Dirrell took a long time off after that fight, due to his being belted flush on the jaw whilst down (Abraham claimed he did no wrong). Suffering from dizziness, things did not look promising for the Flint man’s career. But now, having passed all medical tests, Dirrell is hungry to get back to where he once was – already calling out Froch for a return. Fellow lefty Magee, 36-4-1(25) is a very experienced fighter, who has been in with everyone from Lucian Bute to Froch, and he has rejuvenated his career with recent wins over Jaime Barboza (for the interim WBA title) and, last time out, in February, Rudy Markussen (a 5th-round KO).
At age 37, Magee has had a long and at times tough career (but stopped only twice), yet he might just give a rusty Dirrell a very hard fight. Magee will be a pretty big betting underdog, but I think he has a shot at pulling off the upset.
TMT’s first card looks a decent one, and this is only the beginning.