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14 NOVEMBER 2018


Gamboa Stops Rojas/Aydin Squeaks Past Ouali

Gamboa tags Rojas (pic Tom Casino)
Gamboa tags Rojas (pic Tom Casino)

By Michael Norby: With each stunning victory, undefeated Cuban featherweight powerhouse Yuriorkis Gamboa leaps closer to securing mouthwatering collisions with the elite of his division and, on Friday night, he took another big step towards achieving that goal with a ten round pummeling of former world title challenger Jose Rojas at Buffalo Bill’s Star Arena in Primm, Nevada, USA.

It was a shining performance by Gamboa 15-0 (13) who, with tonight’s dominating win, also picks up the vacant interim WBA world featherweight title. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist chopped down Rojas 25-7-1 (17), who boasts a third round knockout victory over Celestino Caballero, sending him to the canvas in the fifth before forcing referee Russell Mora to stop the punishment midway through the tenth round.

The heavily muscled Gamboa looked predictably menacing to begin the fight as he searched for a way past the jab of his rangy opponent. He lunged forward with a massive right hand midway through the round that stunned Rojas but was over eager in his follow up and almost propelled himself through the ropes and onto the first row of seats in the process.

Rojas had felt the Cuban’s power now and he flinched backward at the first sign of attack as Gamboa searched for another damaging right hand. The Venezuelan ducked under missile-like punches throughout the round and it wasn’t until the final twenty seconds or so before Gamboa was able to score solidly after he found his man with a right hand and glancing left hook sequence.

It was clear that Rojas had no intention of mixing it up with his opponent and he maintained a safe distance in the third round. He was looking to time Gamboa, who has been known for attacking recklessly in the past, but the 27-year-old refused to take the bait and fought deliberately and with focus for the most part – scoring with single right hands when the opportunity arose. He rattled off a furious assault late in the round to scrub away any lingering questions, if any existed, about who was in charge.

Rojas’ right eye was badly scuffed and swollen to begin the fourth and his refusal to fight, whilst perhaps wise considering the strength of his opponent, made for a decidedly one-sided boxing match. Indeed, Gamboa waltzed proudly around the ring with his hands at his side peering in at Rojas as he set blueprints for further scoring attacks against his clearly overwhelmed opponent.

Gamboa scored a flash knockdown after a counter left hook combined with his opponent’s shoddy footwork in the first minute of the fifth round. A dejected Rojas was set upon immediately after the restart as the Cuban speared him with a slew of right hands before Gamboa settled back into a focused, winning rhythm that Rojas had no answer for.

By the middle rounds, Rojas began to sop up more and more face denting right hands and, in the seventh, Mora warned the Venezuelan to ‘show something’ as Gamboa stood back and admired his work. Rojas told Mora that he was fine but his face was badly swollen by this stage and he winced as his corner worked to contain the damage to his now bleeding right eye between rounds.

Gamboa continued to systematically break down his opponent as he deployed both fists effectively against the dial of Rojas. Left hooks and straight right hands furthered the damage and prompted Mora and the ringside doctor to seriously question the Venezuelan at the end of the ninth. The brave veteran insisted that he fight on but, after another power sequence by Gamboa midway through the tenth, Mora jumped in and stopped the fight.

Time of stoppage: 1:31 RD10

Undercard Report

Unbeaten Turkish puncher Selcuk Aydin narrowly defended his WBC international welterweight title belt with a 12 round split decision victory over Moroccan southpaw Said Ouali.

This fight represented a sizeable step-up for the man nicknamed ‘Mini-Tyson’ and Aydin 18-0 (14) stood up to the challenge by outworking his gritty opponent from the opening bell. Ouali 25-3 (17) spent most of the fight digesting punches against the ropes and, although he produced a sparkling offensive charge in the final round, he rarely took the initiative and can’t have too many complaints about the judges scoring.

Aydin dominated the opening portion of the contest after his taller, rangier opponent inexplicably spent a majority of the first six minutes with his back against to the ropes soaking up punishment. The Turkish banger frequently pasted the African to the body and head and tasted only sporadic counter shots in return as Ouali’s main efforts focused on protecting his torso from thunderous and accurate punches.

Between rounds, Ouali’s trainer Roger Mayweather instructed his fighter to stay away from the ropes but the Moroccan refused to follow and, in the third, his non-compliance almost paid dividends. The Moroccan again allowed himself to be pushed backwards but, as Aydin fired combinations midway through the third, Ouali shot off a short right hook that badly stunned his opponent.

Aydin rebounded later in the round and came out firing in the fourth and fifth as Ouali, perhaps over-relying on another round turning counter punch, covered up and threw his fists sparingly – much to the dismay of Mayweather. The Moroccan displayed mere glimpses of his offensive ability as he rattled off scoring combinations in the center of the ring but those moments were fleeting and Aydin subsequently roasted his man with straight right hands to the head and digging hooks to the body.

Referee Tony Weeks threw Ouali a lifeline in the sixth round, however, as he took a point from Aydin for low blow in a frame that was, arguably, the Moroccan’s best of the fight. The veteran southpaw was unable to capitalize, however, as he spent much of the next round covered up against the ropes accepting punches - including a prolonged series of punishing uppercuts and body shots that sapped valuable energy from Ouali as the fight entered the later rounds.

After dropping another frame in the eighth, Ouali produced his best three minutes in the ninth by keeping the fight at arms length and connecting with hard right hands behind his jab throughout the round. At range, Aydin was unable to tractor forward and he began to display frustration as he walked into a string of straight punches and jumped angrily back to his corner after the bell sounded to end the round.

Again, Ouali was unable to further his success as he spoiled moments of activity and accuracy with extended periods of catching against the ropes down the stretch. Aydin, who had tired by the final round was buzzed twice by his opponent in the final minute of the fight but it was too little too late for Ouali

Scores: 113-114; 115-112; 116-111
Rojas goes down (Pic Tom Casino)
Rojas goes down (Pic Tom Casino)

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