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Azad Championship Report: Gamboa Survives Late Scare to Defeat Farenas

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

By Mike Sloan at ringside

Unbeaten former Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa survived a late scare to hang on to topple the ultra tough Michael Farenas. The Cuban used superb speed and counterpunching to offset most of what the Filipino threw at him and won a rather lopsided unanimous decision.

Gamboa fired off blistering combos and powerful punches throughout and looked on the verge of scoring an early rounds knockout. A flurry, punctuated by a right cross late in the second knocked Farenas off his feet. Farenas was saved by the bell but Gamboa tore into him in the third. Already cut on the corner of his right eye, a clash of heads opened another laceration above his left. Eating many clean punches at this point, it seemed like a matter of time before Gamboa shut off the lights

Azad Championship Report
Azad Championship Report

Farenas hung tough, though, and stormed back into the contest when he rocked Gamboa in the fourth with a left hand. A few more straight left hands found a home on Gamboa’s jaw at that point, but Faranes just couldn’t do enough real damage to fully turn the tides in his favor.

Gamboa dropped Farenas again in the seventh after a wild flurry clipped the Filipino’s jaw, forcing his glove to touch the canvas. Farenas was in trouble again, but he fought his way out of a brutal slugfest that lasted thirty or so seconds.  

Gamboa rocked Farenas again in the ninth, but disaster almost struck when his too-reckless attack opened the door for a perfect counter left hook. The punch buckled Gamboa’s knees and he crumbled onto the canvas. When the Cuban rose to his feet, he was in serious peril and about to be knocked out. Farenas dashed in for the kill, but Gamboa intelligently clinched whenever he could. From that point forward, Gamboa played it safely and decided to out-box Farenas until the end, where he was awarded the unanimous decision. The scores all favored the unbeaten super featherweight; they were 117-109, 118-108 and 117-108, allowing Gamboa to improve to 22-0 with 16 KOs. also scored it 117-109 for Gamboa. With the loss, Farenas fell to 34-4-4 with 26 KOs.  

A lightweight matchup that left a lot be desired, the aesthetically unpleasing duel between unbeaten Mercito Gesta and Miguel Angel Vazquez all but sucked the life out of an already listless crowd. Vazquez boxed on his heels for twelve rounds, nullifying virtually everything the more aggressive (and less effective) Gesta threw his way.  

Gesta spent much of the first half of the fight walking his foe down, but he threw mostly one punch at a time. Add to the mix the fact that he couldn’t cut the ring off properly and the end result was a dull encounter if there ever was one.  

Vazquez, the crowd favorite from Guadalajara, boxed beautifully from the outside. His jab was on point, he rattled off combos in spurts and his defense was near flawless from the start. He boxed circles around the constantly-posturing San Diego fighter, who never really picked up his offensive output even when it was obvious he needed to close the fight strongly.  

In the end, the three ringside judges all favored Vazquez (25-3, 19 KOs) via tallies of 117-111, 119-109 and 118-110. also had it 119-109 for Vazquez. The loss was the first of Gesta’s career, who now stands at 26-1-1 with 14 KOs.  

In what was the prototypical cat versus mouse matchup, featherweights Javier Fortuna and Patrick Hyland didn’t exactly live up to the expectations of a terrific fight. The duel opened the live pay-per-view telecast, but after two rounds of little action inside the ring, the still-filling arena grew restless. Boos and jeers cascaded onto the fighters and considering that both men entered the contest with unbeaten records, more was expected.

  Hyland, from Dublin, Ireland, stalked and chased the elusive Fortuna from the start, but his inability to properly cut off the ring prevented any real fireworks from exploding in the ring. Hyland appeared to grow a bit restless as the fight wore on and he eventually became more aggressive with each passing round. Still, Fortuna was slick and made himself an unavailable target for much of the fight, though when he let his hands go, he tagged his foe cleanly.

Fortuna jabbed when he could and elected to play it safe throughout, which frustrated Hyland. Things became interesting in the ninth, though, when the combatants partook in foul play. Fortuna repeatedly hit Hyland in the back of the head/neck area, which led the Irishman to toss the Californian onto the canvas. A short while later, Hyland dug a thudding uppercut to Fortuna’s groin.  

The infractions continued into the tenth when Fortuna was again hit low. A few moments afterward, Fortuna flopped to the canvas again after their legs became entangled. Referee Russell Mora had his hands full and had to continuously separate the two as they grappled and clinched each other whenever they got close.

  Hyland tore into his foe’s body whenever he got close, but he wasn’t able to crash anything hard or clean on Fortuna’s head. To counter the relentless attack of Hyland, Fortuna stuck and moved expertly, making each round difficult to score.  

Going into the twelfth, the fight was up in air and it seemed that whoever seized control of the final frame would probably win. Fortuna boxed beautifully as Hyland plugged away, but the two stood toe-to-toe for the final thirty seconds of the fight. In the end, it was the more precise punching and better guile of Fortuna that was rewarded; the three judges favored him via tallies of 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113. also favored Fortuna by the margin of 116-112; he rises to 21-0 with 15 KOs. Hyland, who won over the crowd by the end, dipped to 27-1 with 12 KOs.

You can contact Mike Sloan at or


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