by Cliff Rold
It might be a B.A.D. fight but it’s not going to be a bad fight. The question heading into Saturday’s big contest for two alphabet titles at 126 lbs. is this:
Will we get a good fight or a showcase?
Considering who is in the main event, the former seems the proper bet. For all his evident athletic gifts, and despite a storied and deep amateur career, Cuba’s Gamboa has so far been a flawed professional. He gets hit too easy, dropped too often, loses focus, coasts when he should not, has sloppy feet sometimes…
…and never ceases being watchable. The whole thing is like a high wire act still, the viewing of Gamboa a marvel of wondering if he will perfect his craft and bring the whole package together or plummet finally to his doom.
Solis is the sort of challenger who can ask such questions. It’s fairly forgotten because he lost but Solis’s 2007 affair with Manny Pacquiao was respectable. He lost, but lost in such a way that his stock improved. He’s seen better opposition than Gamboa, comes from solid bloodlines (his brother is the excellent former Jr. Flyweight titlist Ulises Solis), and is the larger man. Recently winning and defending an interim WBA belt at 130 lbs. (which isn’t that big a deal considering the WBA often hands out three belts a class…good racket if one can find the right folks to pay into it), Solis is coming back down the scale to test his experience versus Gamboa’s talent.
This could be better than anyone realizes.
Let’s go to the report card.
Titles: WBA Featherweight (2009-Present, 4 Defenses); IBF Featherweight (2010-Present, 1st Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’5 ½
Weight: 126 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 125.6 lbs.
Hails from: Miami, Florida (Born in Guantanamo, Cuba)
Record: 19-0, 15 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #4 at Featherweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-0, 2 KO (5-0, 3 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Orlando Salido)
Height: 5’8 ½
Weight: 125.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 128.2 lbs.
Hails from: Guadalajara, Mexico
Record: 40-2-2, 29 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Jr. Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-1 (3-1, 2 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Cristobal Cruz)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat/No Contest: 3 (Humberto Soto, Manny Pacquiao, Cristobal Cruz)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Gamboa A+; Solis B
Pre-Fight: Power – Gamboa A; Solis B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Gamboa B; Solis B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Gamboa B; Solis C
Is this the night Gamboa puts on the kind of show he did against Rogers Mtagwa with a real contender? Don’t bet on it. Solis is going to come to fight and he’ll know this could be his last big chance. Pacquiao was too good. That loss was okay. Losing to the tough but limited Cruz, whom he had previously defeated, in a 2009 Featherweight title bout was not. He needs to come up big here.
Gamboa, who teased with improved defense and discipline against Jonathon Barros before letting the Salido fight get close last time out. Salido is a touch customer, the sort who has seen and fought them all. Solis, younger and more successful than Salido, is the sort of next logical step one would expect. Gamboa might be flawed, but part of that appearance has been tough matchmaking.
Looking okay while learning is a better way to look great tomorrow than fighting stiffs and hoping the gym will solve the wrinkles. Gamboa is going to have a tough night because he’s in with a real opponent. An upset is conceivable. However, at the end of the day, Gamboa is THAT much faster and hits harder. That makes room for mistakes Solis just won have. Gamboa probably hits the deck but he’ll get up and stop Solis sometime around 11.
Report Card Picks 2011: 6-1
For the latest BoxingScene Divisional Ratings: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]