Former IBF/WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KO’s) will be making one of his rare appearances this Saturday night in challenging WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford (23-0, 16 KO’s) on HBO at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
Like an aging celebrity entertainer, Gamboa’s appearances in the ring have become infrequent despite the fact that he’s not tasted the big money that many fighters of his talent level have. Gamboa hasn’t fought since last year when he struggled to defeat Darleys Perez by a less than impressive 12 round unanimous decision in June of 2013.
Gamboa rarely threw punches in that fight, and when he did, it was single shots. Crawford is a much busier fighter than Gamboa now, and the only way that he’s going to be able to compete with Crawford tonight is to try and match his output somehow.
Gamboa is still unbeaten, but he’s not being kept busy against the top fighters the way he needs to. If he’s not able to get the bigger names like Mikey Garcia to fight him, then he needs to stay busy by fighting 3-4 times per year if he’s to maximize what’s left of his career.
At 32, Gamboa doesn’t have too much time left before he starts losing his skills. He already seems to have lost the high workrate that he once had when he started his professional career in 2007. When you compare how Gamboa used to fight when he first started his pro career in 2007 and look at his last several fights, it’s like night and day.
Gamboa’s no longer throwing a lot of punches, and he looks like he’s carrying too much size for his small frame. He’s also no longer knocking guys out the way he did earlier in his career, and big part of the reason that’s not happening is because he’s just throwing or two rare punches instead of throwing flurries.
The only way Gamboa beats Crawford on Saturday night is to jump on him and stay on top of him the entire fight. If Gamboa fights at a snail’s pace by looking to land single pot shots, he’s going to lose badly to Crawford.
Gamboa has to jump on Crawford from the first round and flurry on him on the inside where Crawford is vulnerable. Ricky Burns had his moments late in his fight with Crawford late in the fight when he attacked him in the later rounds, and got Crawford into a brawling style. Crawford isn’t good at brawling, because he’s a pure boxer.
Gamboa will need to jump on Crawford immediately on Saturday night and stay on top of him if he wants to win. I don’t see him being able to do this though, because Gamboa seems to have stamina issues now that he’s moved up in weight from the featherweight division.
If we don’t see Gamboa for another year after Saturday’s fight, I suspect he’ll have lost even more of his game. He’s not helping himself by fighting so infrequently and by being so selective of the fights he takes. When you’re 32 like Gamboa, you need to stay active by fighting as frequently as possible instead of waiting a year at a time looking for only the best fights.