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Gamboa Wins Technical Decision over Ponce de Leon

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)

In a tight, respectful but ultimately one-sided outing, Cuban featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa used his superior technique and speed to outpoint Mexican veteran Daniel Ponce de Leon over the course of seven (and one partial) rounds Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic, NJ on HBO. An accidental clash of heads in the beginning of the eighth round opened a nasty gash on Ponce de Leon’s left eyebrow. On the advice of the doctor, the fight was stopped and because of the rules per the NJSAC, with four rounds completed, the eighth was scored and Gamboa won a technical decision by scores of 70-63 twice and 69-64.
The fight began with much respect from Gamboa who sized up Ponce from a distance. Ponce moved well early, keeping a distance between him and the Cuban, stepping with his jab and winning the first round more in part due to Gamboa’s cautious approach.
In the second, Gamboa saw what he needed to and began testing the waters of combination throwing. However, Ponce de Leon came to win and fought with determination as he tried to match Gamboa punch for punch despite a speed deficiency.

As the rounds wore on, Gamboa seemed to have trouble getting untracked. While he was able to land single shots from both the southpaw and orthodox position on his southpaw opponent, Gamboa didn’t really take over the momentum until about the sixth round. He tried previously in the fifth but Ponce landed a nice left and right that backed up Gamboa and kept him at bay.
When he was worked by Gamboa into the corner, Ponce de Leon would come right back with a couple of hard shots and the two would move out into the center of the ring. Ponce de Leon stayed within his comfort zone, even while eating right hands or the occasional left hook.
In the seventh, Gamboa began to take control, using his speed to land seemingly at will but Ponce de Leon was never deterred. At 31 years of age and with 41 wins against four losses and with 31 knockouts, he has seen it all. The 29-year-old with only 21 wins against zero losses and 16 knockouts brought speed and power but was not exactly a mystery. Ponce de Leon stayed the course and kept hoping for that one good shot. It never came.
In the eighth, the two men came forward at the same time, banged heads and a cut opened up on Ponce’s left eyebrow, blood flowing into his eye. Referee Allan Huggins stopped the action and the ringside doctor, after a long examination, stopped the fight and we went to the cards.
“This fight was very important to me,” Gamboa told HBO’s Max Kellerman after the fight. “This man took me to the eighth and people said I would be in danger if I was in that range. My purpose was to extend the fight and go beyond four rounds because many people said if I went beyond the four, that he would be able to knock me out. But my purpose was to go beyond that.”
As to the future, Gamboa told Kellerman, “As I said before, I want to go for Manny Pacquiao and go for the best pound-for-pound fighters because obviously in my weight division, I have no challengers.”
Brandon Rios and a Question of Options
Thursday on Twitter, I mentioned that a possible fight between lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios and contender John Molina Jr. was “close to a done deal for a main event on Showtime in L.A. December 10.” That was not so much the case. Let me explain.
Right now, Rios is a fighter with several options. After speaking to members of his camp, it turns out he has about six possible opponents for two potential dates. Among them are Molina, Kevin Mitchell, and Miguel Vazquez. The dates possible are the co-feature to the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rubber match November 12 and a headlining date on Showtime December 10.
Showtime would love Rios-Molina Jr., from what I am told. Molina’s camp would love to fight Rios and from what I understand, he has verbally agreed to terms.
The problem is that no contracts have been signed and there are five other potential fighters who possibly would love to fight Rios on either date.
As of Saturday morning, Rios had yet to be officially offered one of these fights. What happened is that each opponent, as a matter of protocol, has been offered the bout tentatively. The protocol being that it’s important to know if each fighter’s manager, promoter, etc. along with the fighters who are interested. Then and only then will Rios’ management and promotional team weigh the options and move forward.
While I am still hearing Showtime’s interest as well as Molina Jr.’s, the fight is far from done. Rios has been in camp and is readying himself for either date.
I should be clear that Rios doesn’t care whom he fights. According to his team, he will fight anyone. As it is a champ’s right, he will weigh his options. There is no ducking or dodging here, just a young, undefeated fighter in the enviable position of having some very good options.
Speaking of fights almost done, Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland has been agreed to on both sides. The fighters love it; the trainers love it; the promoters love it and HBO not only loves it but is willing to go to Mexico for it. A few details are being worked out, not the least of which is money and the most of which is whether or not the Texas parole board will let Kirkland travel to Mexico for the proposed November 5 HBO fight. 
You can email Gabriel at, follow him on Twitter at and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.


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