Ever since Yuriorkis Gamboa turned pro four years ago he has been a work in progress. At first he was a tornadic demon that flattened opponents while exciting media and fans, but his undisciplined wildness left him vulnerable to knockdowns that sometimes brought him to the brink of disaster.
To lessen the danger, Gamboa adopted a hit-and-run style that proved a double-edged sword. While it protected his suspect chin and allowed him to pile up points, it also stripped away the intangibles that labeled him a star of the future. If boxing wanted to remain relevant for another sporting generation – especially amidst the rise of MMA – it needed more master-blasters like the “old Gamboa” and fewer dance-masters like this more cautious model.
Gamboa’s challenge was simple yet complex: Blend his high-octane instincts with just enough defensive skills to keep him from the cliff’s edge.
That process took a step forward Saturday night when Gamboa blew away respected veteran Jorge Solis in four rounds to retain his WBA featherweight belt (he lost his IBF strap when he refused to take part in the mandated re-weighing the following morning). After sizing up Solis in the opening round, “El Ciclon de Guantanamo” kicked it into high gear and scored five sensational – if occasionally foul-plagued – knockdowns while remaining comparatively untouched.
The CompuBox figures vividly illustrated Gamboa’s comprehensive success. Offensively, the Cuban was 78 of 194 overall (40 percent), landing 10 of 43 jabs (23 percent) and 68 of 151 power shots (an impressive 45 percent) against arguably his best and most experienced opponent yet. But while Gamboa thrived on offense he limited Solis to 29 of 107 overall (27 percent) and 10 of 64 in jabs (16 percent). The only danger point for Gamboa was that while he tasted just 19 power shots in four rounds, Solis landed 44 percent of his 43 attempts.
The overwhelming force of Gamboa’s attack prevented Solis from launching more missiles. In rounds two through four, he out-landed the Mexican 64-16 in power shots and out-threw him 137-37. In the final round alone Gamboa enjoyed power punch bulges of 14-1 (connects) and 35-5 (attempts).
The only solace for Solis was that he tried to live up to his pre-fight strategy of attacking Gamboa’s body. The PunchZone maps showed that 20 of his 29 total connects targeted Gamboa’s flanks, with hooks netting 12 connects and rights striking eight times. Of his nine head connects, lefts scored twice, rights hit four times and the other three struck Gamboa’s chin.
Meanwhile, Gamboa belabored every target area. His 49 head connects were almost evenly distributed (19 lefts, 14 rights and 16 chin connects) as were his landed body shots (16 on Solis’ right side and 13 on his left side). It was as complete a performance as Team Gamboa could have asked for, and many fans hope that this will be the fighter they’ll see for years to come.
Garcia KO 10 Remillard
Workmanlike. Clinical. Consistent. Dominant. Those words best described Mikey Garcia’s performance against fellow unbeaten Matt Remillard over the first seven rounds of their crossroads contest. But in the final three rounds Garcia found another gear – a Gamboa-like gear, one might say – and changed those words to “dynamic,” “exciting,” “commanding” and “conclusive.”
The final CompuBox numbers were reflective of Garcia’s superiority as he went 266 of 943 overall (28 percent) to Remillard’s 162 of 514 (32 percent) and 203 of 490 (41 percent) in power shots to 83 of 194 (43 percent) for the New Englander. Remillard did hold a slight lead in jabs (79 of 320, 25 percent to 63 of 453, 14 percent) but that provided little solace in the end.
The gaps in the final three rounds proved decisive for Garcia. Averaging 107.3 punches per round – almost double the 57.5 featherweight norm – Garcia out-landed Remillard 113-44 overall and 101-33 in power connects, including a withering 42 of 107 to 13 of 27 gap in the 10th. Garcia out-landed his rival from the fourth round onward overall and from round three onward in power shots, which exacted a gradual but inexorable toll on the courageous Remillard.
According to PunchZone, 89.8 percent of Garcia’s attack (249 of 277) targeted Remillard’s head. Left hands landed 101 times while rights scored 65 times and 83 hit the chin. Of his 28 body connects, hooks produced 18 hits while the right struck 10 times.
As for Remillard, 112 of his 162 connects (69 percent) were to Garcia’s head, with chin shots (43) landing most. Left hands scored 28 times while the right struck 41 times. Remillard, a noted body puncher, hit Garcia’s ribs 29 times with lefts and 21 times with rights.