It was harder than expected, but Yuriorkis Gamboa turned back determined Orlando Salido via 12-round unanimous decision at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Final scores were 114-109, 116-109, and 115-109. It was not a particularly distinguished performance by Gamboa, who found himself taking the count for the fifth time in his short career when Salido dropped him in the 8th round with a sneak overhand right.
Gamboa, now 19-0, seemed unsure at times of how to approach Salido; occasionally he would press forward throwing combinations and looking for the knockout, sometimes he would sail around the ring and potshot his opponent, and, in his third incarnation, he would maul with Salido and exchange dirty tactics on the inside. When not fighting, Gamboa would showboat a little, although he never smiled or seemed particularly enthused about his own shtick. It looked like Gamboa was going to take Salido out early, but after hurting his opponent, Gamboa backed off to impose what he calls “discipline.” Letting a veteran fighter like Salido hang around sounds less like discipline and more like folly.
Salido, 34-11-2, was smart enough to punch with Gamboa when he could, aware that Gamboa leaves bowling alleys to his chin while running off combinations. In the eighth round Salido rolled a strike when he caught a wild-swinging Gamboa with a right to the jaw that dropped him after a delayed effect. Salido cuffed Gamboa around for the remainder of the round, but it was the only time he held the upper hand in the bout.
Once upon a time, Joe Cortez was a fine referee, but those days, like the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and Charles Perrault, are long gone. In addition to mixing his instructions in English and Spanish, Cortez scored a questionable knockdown against Salido in the last round, and did not call a knockdown against Salido when Gamboa steamrolled him to the canvas a minute later. Gamboa also committed a blatant foul by whacking Salido behind the head when Salido was on the canvas. So deliberate was this infraction that Cortez could easily have disqualified Gamboa. Instead, perhaps thinking about the Francisco Lorenzo debacle a couple of years back, he deducted two points from Gamboa and forgot to count the knockdown. The bout continued and went to the scorecards, where Salido fared no better than he did in the ring.
A fight between Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez would be chaos, since both fighters hang their chins out on clotheslines while throwing combinations. Let’s hope they make it to the ring together before someone takes them down, folds them up, and shoves them in a drawer.
Brandon Rios, 25-0-1, succeeded in dragging Anthony Peterson into a shootout, and Peterson took so many slugs that he decided to make an unclean getaway by fouling out, throwing innumerable low blows in a record span of time and forcing referee Russell Mora to halt the fight at the end of the 7th round. Until then, Peterson was getting his clock cleaned in exciting two-way action that was mostly one-sided in favor of Rios. A left hook dropped Peterson in the 5th round, and when the 6th began, Peterson was well on his way to Plan B: hit ‘em where it hurts.
Like many undefeated but untested young fighters, Peterson, 30-1, revealed many weaknesses when up against his first tough test. When Peterson throws a right hand in close, for example, he resembles a butcher chopping at a particularly tough cut of beef. In addition, his combinations border on slapping, and when he throws his punches in long sequences, he seems to expect his opponent to just stand there and take them. Rios did not oblige and whacked Peterson in between these wide combinations. As for “Bam Bam,” he works the body well, cuts off the ring, throws a mean uppercut, and forces an accelerated pace. But Peterson connected with over 50 percent of his power punches on Saturday night, and that kind of manly art of no defense is going to catch up to Rios sooner or later. In the meantime, he will be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
The Cruelest Sport guest posted on The Queensberry Rules on Saturday while Tim Starks was on vacation. After agreeing to recap the Klitschko-Peter bout, imagine my surprise when I found out, at the last moment, that espn360.com is not available on Cablevision in New York City, you know, one of the media capitals of the world. I finally found the fight streaming elsewhere, without sound and with choppy visuals, but the experience reinforced the notion that boxing is being marginalized in the United States. After all, the recognized heavyweight champion of the world, Wladimir Klitschko, cannot get even get on Fox Sports Net.
But you can barely turn around without running across one excited spiel after another about the boxing broadcast resurgence. Check your local listings channels, telecasts in Spanish, expensive pay-per-views with third-rate fights, and spotty internet streams have everyone in a lather instead of aghast. For some of these people, the glass is perpetually half full. But of what—hemlock? In fact, the celebration of these fringe broadcasts actually highlights the inescapable truth that boxing keeps being shunted off into the netherworld of insignificance. Even the promoters underline the irrelevance of some of these telecasts by programming rubbish with the regularity of the lunar cycle. Solo Boxeo, in particular, fits this description, and who could forget the collective cheer the arose when Telefutura announced it was back in boxing (albeit at reduced rates)? We should all look forward to reading the huzzahs when fights are announced to be broadcast over CB Radio frequencies or reenacted via magic lantern in a puppet theater.
The Cruelest Sport will not be ordering the horrendous Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora pay-per-view (inexplicably backed by HBO) on Saturday. Nor will there be any 2,000 word previews about the Saul Alvarez-Carlos Baldomir bout. While many sit around bawling about Antonio Margarito, sanctioning bodies, etc., one of the biggest ills of boxing remains the mentality of the so-called “hardcore” boxing fan, who will drool over practically any fight a promoter puts together as a sucker bet. With pay-per-view broadcasts, promoters only need a relatively small number of buys–in this case, at $49.95 a pop– to break even or come out ahead. So think about that the next time your whining spirals so out of control that you are unable to put discrimination into play. Or write the phrase “Caveat Emptor” on a Post-It and stick it on your cable box.
The Super Six continues to implode with the announcement that the Carl Froch-Arthur Abraham bout, originally scheduled for October 2 in Monaco, has been postponed due to a back injury suffered by Froch. According to Kevin Iole, Froch and Mikkel Kessler, who withdrew from the tournament two weeks ago because of eye trouble, conspired together to sabotage the World Boxing Classic in order to play a backgammon tournament together in Denmark on October 4th.
Read about the life of Eddie Machen, a gifted heavyweight who never reached his potential because of a shaky psychological make-up. He died, in mysterious circumstances, at the age of 40.