A Night For The Rookies

By Tom Donelson
Updated: May 18, 2008

GlovesIOWA CITY, Ia. — HBO used its Boxing after Dark (BAD) series to imitate Showtime SHOBOX series by having young undefeated prospects face seasoned veterans.

James Kirkland is an up and coming Middleweight and junior Middleweight and for SHOBOX audiences, he is a familiar face. Undefeated with 21 victories along with 18 stoppages, Kirkland faced a tough opponent Eromosele Albert, who had 21 victories in 22 fights.

Well, at least on paper it was considered a tough fight.

Kirkland took all but 66 seconds to eliminate Albert and now Kirkland has won his last four fights by knock outs. Kirkland is showing that he may be ready to graduate from prospects night and fight a contender or at least a top ten fighter.

Yuriorkis Gamboa is one of those talented fighters who have everything: speed, power and extensive amateur background as part of the Cuba national team. If Kirkland showed that he is ready for bigger things, Gamboa showed that he still have much to learn.

Throughout his fight with Darling Jimenez, Gamboa showed that he was the superior boxer and easily won the fight on the score card. But his habit of keeping his hands low nearly proved disastrous as Jimenez sent Gamboa down in the fourth.

Gamboa showed how to survive as he grabbed his opponent until his head cleared up but against a harder puncher, Gamboa would have not triumphed. Jimenez was outclassed but throughout the fight, he occasionally clipped Gamboa with solid left hooks.

The one saving grace for Gamboa was Jimenez lack of power since Gamboa took these shots. Gamboa punches did have sting to them as Jimenez face was swollen at fight’s end, but Gamboa could not put Jimenez away.

After 10 rounds, Gamboa learned that he was not invincible and against better quality opponents, his defensive lapse will come back to haunt him. In a way, Gamboa natural gifts may be his undoing.

Some fighters, blessed with great skills, depend upon those skills in lieu of mastering the great techniques.As these fighters get older and their skills erode, they become more vulnerable to opponents shots.

One reason that James Toney’s career lasted so long was his superior techniques as his defensive mastering prevented him from getting pounded and allowed him to compete even against heavyweights at more advanced age.

Gamboa depends too much on his skills and for a fighter who has 400 amateur fights, this is unforgivable.

The most exciting fight was the middle affair between Alfredo Angulo and Richar Gutierrez. Gutierrez had already fought some outstanding fighters just as Joshua Clottey and had only one lost.

The opening round told the story of the fight. Gutierrez attempted to impose his will upon his younger opponent and won the first round. In the process, he fought Angulo fight. Instead of using his boxing skills and jab, Gutierrez was content to stay within Angulo wheel house and allowed Angulo to set the pace of the fight.

Starting in the second round until the end, Angulo set the tempo of the fight as he out punched the Columbian fighter. Angulo jabbed his way end and then used a body attack to weaken his opponent while his more accurate straighter punches allowed him to score more easily.

The fifth round was the most exciting of the evening and showed all the good qualities of Angulo.A Gutierrez’s left hook sent Angulo reeling in the opening minutes.

Angulo, hurt and daze, grabbed Gutierrez while buying time. After 30 seconds, Angulo attacked. With one minute left, a Angulo right sent Gutierrez retreating back to the rope.

Angulo took advantage and sent vicious combination downstairs and to the head of Gutierrez. Gutierrez stumbled back and for a brief five second, was totally defenseless. The referee stopped the fight and Gutierrez did not look upset.

Angulo showed two things in that fifth round. He showed survival skills when shaken and he finished the show when he got Gutierrez in trouble. Angulo succeeded where Gamboa failed.

He showed great boxing techniques and those skills proved decisive against a more experienced pro. Angulo proved that he had a championship heart and heart is one thing that can’t be measured.