Did the Cubans Impress the US Fans on ESPN2?
By Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (Jan 12, 2009)  
Last Friday night the US fans got a glimpse of the former 2004 gold medal winning super heavyweight Odlanier Solis 13-0 (9) for the first time. All his other bouts have been in Europe, with Solis now living in Germany.

Owen Beck was to be the opponent for Solis but was replaced by Kevin Burnett 13-2-1 (8) about a week before the fight. Burnett hadn’t fought in over 6 months since barely getting through the 8th and final round with Horace Grant (12-1). He had to come off the floor and was fortunate to hear the bell while still standing. His lone loss up until the Solis fight was a 1st round knockout to Willie Walker 5-3 (4) who had been stopped in all his 3 losses.

Solis, who is just under 6’2”, came in at 246 pounds to Burnett’s 253. Only difference is, Burnett is 6’7”. Solis will never look like Teo Stevenson, the former 3 time Cuban gold medalist, but it’s a different era today. He has a very unusual way of landing his punches with noticeable power, but Burnett was able to keep him at bay with his jab throughout most of the fight. Solis is only 28 but with a 227-14 amateur record he has plenty of miles on that body of his. Solis eventually stopped Burnett in the 8th when his corner stopped it as he was out on his feet. Solis is #14 in the WBC ratings. Solis = B-

In the main event for featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa 13-0 (11) it was the 4th fight in his last 7 in the US that he hit the canvas. His opponent Roger Gonzalez 27-3 (18) had him down in the 2nd round and though well behind held on until the 10th and final round when referee Robert Byrd suddenly stopped it with less than a minute to go. Gamboa has impressed since coming here from Germany, but has a questionable chin. His style leaves him wide open at times, but he has the look of a champion to be. Gamboa is ranked #3 in the WBA who just approved Rocky Juarez, who is not rated, to fight Chris John for their title. Gamboa is also rated WBO #6 and WBC #2. Gamboa = B

Light middleweight Erislandy Lara 3-0 (2) has had his bouts in Germany and Turkey before being signed by Golden Boy Promotions. He was a member of the 2008 Cuban Olympic team before escaping his homeland. His opponent Rodrigo Aguiar 5-4 (3) with limited amateur experience was right in front of him and holding his own until about 15 seconds left in the 1st round when he got hit with a straight right hand and down he went. He was counted out at the 2:59 mark. Lara = ? We really didn’t see enough of him to judge but he showed skills.

Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com

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