Not many world champions have taken the path of Omaha, Nebraska’s own Terence Crawford. After appearing on numerous Top Rank undercards, Crawford (23-0, 16 KOs) got his big break in March of last year. Khabib Allakhverdiev was set to make his second title defense on HBO against Breidis Prescott March 30th but had to pull out of the fight with an elbow injury 9 days before the fight. That left HBO without an opponent for their co-feature in a card headlined by Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado.
With Crawford on the card scheduled to fight at lightweight, he took the fight on 9 days notice a division north of 135 lbs. at the Jr. Welterweight limit of 140 lbs. Crawford took the opportunity and ran with it as he kept the bigger Prescott at bay with his long jab and out boxed him en route to a wide unanimous decision.
Crawford won two more times on HBO before his shining moment came and did what not many other boxers are willing to do, travel overseas and fight for a world title in another man’s backyard. Again, the young prize fighter took this grand opportunity and flourished as he outclassed Ricky Burns of Scotland snatching the 135 WBO world title, this past March.
When you take chances like that you get rewarded, and Crawford’s reward is an HBO hometown title defense against another undefeated fighter, Yuriorkis Gamboa on June 28th at the Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KOs) boomed on to the boxing scene with his lighting quick hands and highlight knockout reels in the featherweight division, where he became a world champion in 2009. During his WBA featherweight title reign, Gamboa soundly defeated the likes of Orlando Salido, Daniel Ponce De Leon, and Jorge Solis. Almost seemingly headed to a clash with Puerto Rican featherweight world champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez, the bout never occurred because of Lopez’ dismantling at the hands of Orlando Salido and the famous “marinate” comment put forth by Bob Arum, the promoter of both.
Gamboa would get his shot at a big fight when he was set to take on then lightweight champion Brandon Rios in April of 2012. For whatever reason be it promotional reasons or not wanting to jump two weight classes, Gamboa skipped the pre-fight promotional press conference and the bout altogether.
Gamboa would be shelved for over a year when he signed onto 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions and returned on a Manny Pacquiao undercard at the 130 super featherweight limit against Michael Farenas. Gamboa showed ring rust and was even dropped by Farenas in the fight which he won by decision. He followed up that performance by winning a lackluster decision over Darley Perez in Canada over a year ago when he debut at 135 lbs.
After failed attempts to make a fight with Mikey Garcia, Gamboa chose to step in with one of the best lightweights in the world in Crawford in his hometown. Both fighters have identical records but the outcome of this bout will not be identical. Crawford is the more technical of the two also sporting a better chin in the bigger weight classes. Gamboa has been dropped by smaller guys with lesser talent than Crawford.
However, Crawford has not yet fought a fighter with the fast hands of Gamboa. For Gamboa to be successful he has to get inside of the 70” reach of Crawford with his speed. Gamboa is giving up 5” in reach and is also shorter in height by 3”. Gamboa has no doubt faced the better opposition but Crawford will be his best test to date.
In the end Crawford will be too big, too strong, and too good. The old saying goes a good bigger fighter always beats the good smaller fighter and this holds true here. Gamboa will have early success with his hand speed but then Crawford will adjust with his jab and time the smaller fighter who doesn’t have the best history with standing upwards. The rumor out of Colorado where Crawford trained was to expect a lot of jabbing and a strong right hand. I see a right hand body shot dropping Gamboa and ending the fight in 8.