Gamboa bites the dust

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Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

The fearsome “Cyclone of taste of his own medicine when he was left in tatters by American Terence “Bud” Crawford in their showdown for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) lightweight (135 pounds) title.

Gamboa swept past
Gamboa like a tsunami, flooring the Cuban four times en route to a ninth round technical knockout victory. Gamboa actually got off to a good start in the first three rounds as his hand-speed and power punching kept Crawford tentative and befuddled. However, the momentum changed when Crawford shook off the jitterbugs and started throwing a very effective jab. The 5’5” Gamboa, with a five-inch reach disadvantage, started encountering trouble getting inside. Compounding Gamboa’s woes was that his habit of coming in with his hands down made him a sucker for Crawford’s counterpunches.

In the fifth stanza, Crawford floored Gamboa with a short left to the side of his head. Gamboa claimed that the punch landed at the back of his head and amounted to a push, but he struggled to avoid another knockdown in the round as Crawford pelted him with one haymaker after another. Gamboa ended up locking lips with the canvas in the 8th round and twice more in the 9th stanza. By the time the fight was halted at the 2:53 mark of the 9th round, Crawford was treating Gamboa like a yo-yo. He had Gamboa on a string and was depositing him to the canvas almost a will.

Gamboa saw his record sink to 23-1 with 16 knockouts. The Cuban was fighting for the first time in a year and while the ring rust was not that evident in the first few rounds, as the fight progressed it became clear that Gamboa was too small to compete in a heavier weight class. Gamboa tried to overwhelm Crawford with brute strength and handspeed, something he did successfully in the lighter weight divisions, but Crawford stood his ground. Gamboa’s chin has always been suspect (he had been previously floored by Darling Jimenez, Orlando Salido and Filipino Michael Fareñas) and against the bigger Crawford it finally melted like butter.


Gamboa oozed with potential upon arriving in the pro ranks in 2007, but he lost his way in the punch-for-pay business and the setback to Crawford was really an accident waiting to happen. A gold medalist in the 2004 Olympics, Gamboa sold his medal to buy his daughter a birthday gift. He left Cuba and arrived in the United States bent on securing a better future for his family.

Armed with terrific handspeed and bone-jarring power, Gamboa tore through the featherweight ranks. In 2009, he stopped Whyber Garcia in 4 rounds to win the World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight (126 pounds) championship. Gamboa seemed on his way to the top until he got mired in a contractual dispute with Top Rank Promotions. He left Top Rank in July 2012 and inked a promotional deal with rapper/businessman 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s The Money Team Promotions. When the partnership between 50 Cent and Mayweather hit the rocks, Gamboa ended up joining the former’s SMS Promotions which had ties with Top Rank.

The promotional impasse kept Gamboa’s boxing career in the backburner. With no fights on tap, Gamboa ended up treating his ex-wife Dunia Martinez, with whom he has two children, as his sparring partner. Gamboa was twice arrested for domestic violence involving Martinez. As if things cannot get any worse, Gamboa was also implicated in the drug scandal involving Biogenesis, a Miami-based anti-aging clinic accused of peddling performance enhancing drugs to pro athletes. Gamboa turned out to be one of the clients of the clinic.

Inactivity and a slew of domestic issues greatly affected Gamboa’s focus. After settling for an unimpressive technical decision win over Mexican Daniel Ponce de Leon in September 2011, Gamboa went inactive for over a year. He returned in December 2012, moved up to the super featherweight (130 pounds) division and was floored in a lacklustre decision win over Fareñas. Though unimpressive at 130 pounds, Gamboa pushed the envelope further and moved up to the lightweight (135 pounds) in his next fight. He hacked out another ho-hum decision over Darley Perez in Monaco in June 2013 and thereafter disappeared again. He did return until the recent bout with Crawford.

At age 32, the clock is ticking on Gamboa. He has not really scored an eye-popping win since he cannibalized Mexican Jorge Solis in 2011. Following the one-sided drubbing he suffered in the hands of Crawford, it is now open season for Gamboa’s glass jaw and suspect confidence.

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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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