Commentary| It was a hometown coming out party this past Saturday (June 28, 2014) for current WBO Lightweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford. Crawford successfully retained his title by knocking out former Cuban Olympic Gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa in the 9th of their scheduled twelve round bout. The bout aired on ‘HBO’s Boxing After Dark’, and was staged at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
The CenturyLink Center was an electric atmosphere, as over 10,000 fans filled up the seats in support of Terence Crawford. Crawford, an Omaha native, was making the first defense of his title since winning the title from Ricky Burns back in March of this year. As for Yuriorkis Gamboa, he’s previously been placed in the top ten pound-for-pound by many analysts and writers. However, inactivity, along with less than stellar performances in his last few fights, have kept Gamboa from becoming a star in boxing.
During the fight, the smaller Gamboa started off very strong in the opening rounds. Using his speed and fast hands, Gamboa attacked Crawford early and often, landing fast combinations on the rangier Crawford. Most viewers saw Gamboa winning the first four rounds, and I myself saw that happening as well. The fight took an interesting turn in round number five, as Crawford switched to a southpaw fighting stance. The switch paid off for Crawford, and he was able to land a punch that sent Gamboa to the canvas.
Following the 5th round, Crawford continued to work from the southpaw stance. Crawford used his lengthy jab to keep Gamboa at bay, and appeared to be taking over the fight. Seeming to display a sense of false bravado, Gamboa began to drop his hands in close quarters, resulting in Crawford landing at will on Gamboa. As the fight began to look more like a shootout, Crawford dropped Gamboa once again in the 8th round. However, Gamboa recovered, and was able to catch Crawford with a right hand that would stagger Crawford early in the 9th round.
Crawford began to clinch onto Gamboa, who was looking for the knockout punch to end the fight. Crawford would weather the storm that a gassed out Gamboa was throwing at him, and continued to remain calm and composed. The bout finally came to a head when Crawford dropped Gamboa for a third time in the 9th. Gamboa got up from the canvas, but was clearly out on his feet. A right uppercut by Crawford late in the round finally sealed the deal, as referee Genaro Rodriguez stopped the fight at the 2:53 mark in round nine.
Now with a record of 24 wins, 17 KO’s and 0 losses, Terence Crawford showed why he’s been regarded by many as the best lightweight fighter in the world. At 26 years of age, Crawford displayed an amazing amount of patience and calm in the early rounds of the fight. Following the fight Crawford stated; “I was warming up, getting used to his style in the first couple of rounds. I just wanted to test him out, I felt like I could make an adjustment with my jab, because he’s always dropping his left hand.”
As for Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-1, 16 KO’s), the loss to Crawford is his first defeat as a professional. Heading into the fight, some stated that Crawford was too big for Gamboa, who was fighting at lightweight for only the second time in his career. Although there was a size differential among the two, there was clearly a skill difference as well. Furthermore, now at age 32, the inactivity of Gamboa may have worked against him. For a boxer that fights with the style and pace at which Gamboa does, it pays to remain active in the ring
It’s not certain at this point what is next for either Crawford or Gamboa. There are several notable titleholders in the lightweight division. Some of those names include Richar Abril, Omar Figueroa, and Miguel Vazquez. It’s possible that Crawford could face one of those three next, however, there’s also talk that Crawford could be moving up to 140. Regardless as to what Crawford’s next move is, we are definitely witnessing a very skilled fighter that has a definite future in the sport of boxing.