By Keith Idec
VERONA, N.Y. – Yuriorkis Gamboa didn’t display the sense of urgency Saturday night that he supposedly possesses in this phase of his career.
In his first fight since signing with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Gamboa seemed all too content to box his way to a decisive yet boring victory over Rene Alvarado at Turning Stone Resort Casino. Gamboa owned obvious advantages in speed and skill, but spent more time moving around during their 10-round junior lightweight fight than letting his hands go.
The Cuban-born Gamboa (26-1, 17 KOs) won by comfortable margins on all three scorecards (97-92, 97-92, 97-93), but was far from entertaining during his first fight in nearly 15 months. Nicaragua’s Alvarez (24-8, 16 KOs) lost for the third time in his past four bouts, but presented more trouble for Gamboa than many anticipated in a fight HBO broadcast before its “Boxing After Dark” main event between middleweight contenders David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens.
Alvarez was credited with knocking down Gamboa less than 30 seconds into the 10th round. Gamboa protested once he got to his feet, but referee Benjiy Esteves counted it as a knockdown because Alvarez appeared to hit Gamboa with a left hand as an off-balance Gamboa was falling toward the canvas.
Gamboa appeared to hurt Alvarez early in the ninth round, when the 2004 Olympic gold medalist finally threw a hard combination. Alvarez went down after Gamboa landed multiple hard punches, but Esteves ruled that Gamboa pushed Alvarez to the canvas.
Alvarez seemed to stun Gamboa with a straight right hand early in the seventh round, but he couldn’t capitalize on it. Gamboa went down from a slip soon thereafter and Alvarez hit him with a left hand while he was on the canvas.
By the end of the fourth round, fans throughout the arena were booing because there wasn’t much action to that point in the fight. Gamboa began letting his hands go early in the fifth round, but didn’t hurt Alvarez.
The 35-year-old Gamboa, a former title-holder at 126, 130 and 135 pounds, fought for the first time since December 2015. He hopes to fight a top opponent in either the 130-pound or 135-pound divisions in his next fight, most notably Ukrainian southpaw star Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs), the WBO super featherweight champion.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.