Sharkie’s Machine: Gamboa, Angulo and Kirkland All Win on HBO’s Boxing After Dark
By Frank Gonzalez Jr. exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (May 19, 2008) Photo © German Villasenor  
Saturday night on HBO’s triple header in Primm Nevada, the first fight was over as soon as it began, as Jr. Middleweight Prospect, James Kirkland (22-0, 18 KO’s) landed a straight left that sent Eromosele Albert (21-2, 10 KO’s) to the canvas. That big, lemon sized swelling on Albert’s head was there before he even got in the ring. Albert beat the count but was on wobbly legs as action resumed. Kirkland landed a punch and Albert went right back to the canvas. Is Kirkland that good, or is Albert that bad?

Albert did well enough to win by TKO over fast fading Daniel Edouard (18-1-2, 10 KO’s) last July. Albert’s record could be sponsored by Campbell’s soup as it’s a who’s who of tomato cans. Hell, he beat a guy named Benji Singleton, whose record was 26 wins and 101 losses! This is how contenders are made. That’s not a complaint so much as a noteworthy aside.

James Kirkland looks the part. Twelve of his 21 opponents so far, technically had ‘winning’ records. I’m still curious as to how Kirkland would deal when faced by a quality fighter with some pop. Maybe in a couple of seasons, we’ll find out. Guys I’d like to see him fight in the near future include, Travis Simms, Andrey Tsurkan and Alfredo Angulo, all big bangers that would give him an opportunity to show us what he really has when the going gets tough.

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The second fight was another Jr. Middleweight contest featuring Alfredo Angulo (13-0, 10 KO’s) against the very game, Richar Gutierrez (24-2, 14 KO’s), who definitely came to win. Unlike the two other fights on the card, this was the most exciting and best match of the night. Two evenly skilled fighters, both boxer/punchers with good power and overall skills. One guy turned out to have the better chin and that was Angulo.

Gutierrez won the first round with the more telling punches but from the second round on, it was Angulo who landed cleaner shots and showed superior quality under pressure. In the fifth round, Angulo caught Gutierrez with a clean right to the head that staggered him. Angulo followed up with a series of clean shots that forced the referee (Tony Weeks) to call a halt to the contest. In spite of this TKO loss for Gutierrez, he’s still a pretty good fighter and I expect he’ll rebound from this loss and entertain us with a good win—some other day.

Angulo’s record is impeccable but it’s no real indicator of his class inside the ring. At 13-0, he acts more like a guy who’s 31-0. Calm, cool, relaxed and very effective on offense and defense, this guy is someone who’s going to be somebody big if the promoters decide he’s marketable enough. With his current abilities, I can think of a lot of top ranked fighters he’d probably beat, possibly by KO. I’d like to see him fight guys like Sechew Powell, Cornelius Bundrage or even Joel Julio, who is a phenomenon in his own right. Against Julio, it would be big banger against slick boxer with some pop.

It’d be great if Alfredo Angulo fought James Kirkland next. Can Kirkland’s aggressive style prove successful against a well rounded power puncher with good boxing skills like Angulo? It sure would be nice to find out while they’re both still young. If Kirkland is as good as we expect, this could lead to a very lucrative rivalry in the future, where everybody wins.

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In the Main Event, Super Featherweight Yurkiorkis “The Cyclone of Guantanamo” Gamboa (10-0, 8 KO’s) took on Darling Jimenez (23-3-2, 14 KO’s), a Dominican by way of New York City who fights out of Yonkers. Gamboa had the advantage of coming into the ring weighing 140-pounds compared to Jimenez, who weighed 132. In effect, this was a Super Lightweight vs. a true Super Featherweight. At the lower weight classes, this is a two weight class difference.

Jimenez best qualification for this match up had to be that he hadn’t fought in over a year and would likely make Gamboa look as good as he’s being promoted to be. Gamboa has tremendous athleticism, amazing dexterity, fast hands, big confidence and the look of a dangerous fighter but he needs to shed some of his amateur skin and learn how to punch better, with more accuracy. Adding a reliable jab might be real helpful too.

Against Jimenez, Gamboa showed off his fan friendly appeal but also showed a lack of power and accuracy that could prove deleterious to his aspirations should he fight anyone with good counter punching skills on the road to stardom. Gamboa’s tendency to commit fouls drew boos from the fans during the course of the fight.

It was Gamboa’s aggressive work rate that won him the fight. In spite of all the hype Kellerman was spewing about Gamboa, midway into the fight, I thought Jimenez was going to knock Gamboa out because he fights with his hands so low and jumps in and out with his punches, which makes him especially vulnerable to counter punches. In the fourth round, Jimenez landed a clean right counter shot to the temple area that felled Gamboa. Gamboa beat the ten count but was stunned pretty good.

Gamboa used his athleticism to regain his legs and the momentum. All the clean punches in this fight were authored by Darling Jimenez, who fought from a defensive posture the whole night. Gamboa threw more, landed more and fouled more than anyone on the whole card.

The referee had an interesting gimmick for protecting Gamboa too; whenever Gamboa fouled, be it a low blow, head butt or whatever, the ref would pause the action and warn both guys, “watch your heads” or “keep them up, both of you.” The truth is Gamboa fouled enough times to have lost a point by a less partial referee who understands that his job is to protect the fighters and not just the house favorite. The fans booed when the ref warned both guys for Gamboa’s infractions.

Gamboa definitely has star quality. Expect him to be strategically managed into big stardom as soon as possible. In his pre-fight gushiness, Max Kellerman (or whatever you call him) compared Yurkiorkis Gamboa to the legendary Meldrick Taylor. Kellerman went so far as to state that Gamboa was a better puncher than Taylor.

When the fight was over and assessments were made, it was clear that Gamboa is not such a big puncher. Jimenez was able to block most of the vast array of punches that he threw. Maybe Gamboa moves so much that he doesn’t really sit on any of his punches. Gamboa would be wise to call Meldrick Taylor and ask if he can help him learn how to better throw his punches with accuracy.

What’s next for Gamboa? A trip to Samoa to buy a ten foot Boa? I don’t know but I’d like to see him fight Israel Perez, Humberto Soto or the Wildman, Jorge Barrios. If he can beat any of those contenders, I’ll be a believer too. For now, he’s an incomplete fighter, still a work in progress.  Maybe he should just move up to 135 now, so he doesn’t have to possibly compromise his health to make 130 in future fights.

As always, time will tell.

Comments, Questions, can be emailed to dshark87@hotmail.com.

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