Posted by George Hanson., Jr Esq. on Apr 8, 2011
Tiny Wine in First Class—Gamboa Downs Solis

Tiny Wine in First Class—Gamboa Downs Solis

The Mouthpiece
By: George H. Hanson Jr., Esq.

Date:     Saturday, March 26, 2011
Venue:   Boardwalk Hall – Atlantic City, New Jersey
Promoters:        Top Rank in association with Arena Box and Caesars Atlantic City
Coverage:         HBO’s Boxing After Dark
Commentators:   Bob Papa, Nick Charles, Roy Jones Jr., Max Kellerman & Harold Lederman
Ring Announcers:   Michael Buffer & Dean Stone
Referees:             David Fields, Ricardo Vera, Steve Smoger, Allan Huggins & Brian Omelia
Photos:                Lou Babich Jr. & Tri Nguyen

The key to chronicling any great boxing match is the ability to set a backdrop and tell a terrific story. I learned the art of storytelling a long time ago in Jamaica from my cousin Denzel, a farmer, voracious reader and avid bird watcher. He has the uncanny ability to recall his observations in the most minute detail using the brush of his imagination to paint clear, colorful and entertaining pictures. A fight between two rival birds became an epic battle between two gallant feathered warriors staged in the

In a class by himself – a victorious Gamboa.

sky. I only hope that I am as entertaining as my cousin in my quest is to place my readers at ringside viewing the action through my eyes with the ability to understand the analogies, symbolism, metaphors and allusions that breathe new meaning into these pugilistic contests.

If the featherweight division were an airplane, WBA & IBF featherweight champion Yuriokis “El Ciclon de Guantanamo” Gamboa (19 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 15 kos) of Miami, Florida, by way of Cuba, would be seated in First Class solo! Allow me to let my imagination run wild. El Ciclon de Guantanamo would be in his leather seat, wearing a silk smoking jacket, velvet slippers adorning his feet, a pipe between his lips, speaking with a British accent sipping on tiny wine (comedian Chris Rock’s title for the little bottle of alcohol – enough to spike an 8-ounce drink) looking like a baby Hugh Hefner. Gamboa is in a class by himself and phooey to the naysayers who continue to hold steadfast to their imprudent belief that WBO champion Juan Manuel Marquez has an inkling of a chance. Remember, the captain of the Titanic felt that his ship would plow through the iceberg. I have a higher probability of defeating world record holder Usain Bolt in the 100-meters at next month’s Penn Relays than Marquez has of beating Gamboa—and I am pretty fast!

Sitting at ringside, I watched as Gamboa used every tool in his vast arsenal to dismantle Jorge Solis (42 wins – 2 losses – 2 draws – 29 kos) of Guadalajara, Mexico dropping him five times—twice in the second round, once in the third and two more times in Round 4—forcing Referee Fields to call a halt at 1:31 of the round of this scheduled 12-round title fight. It serves no purpose to chronicle each round because they were all brilliant displays of Gamboa’s mastery of the sweet science against an excellent fighter who I failed to mention is a belt holder in the division above featherweight. Once lauded for his athletic ability and reckless abandon and punching power,

Gamboa (L.) sending Solis to the canvas

 the Cuban has settled down and is now picking his shots like a sharpshooter, connecting with combinations like the great Sugar Ray Leonard and still power-punching with authority like “Iron” Mike Tyson.

Utterly mind-boggling is his foot speed and the ability to change directions while still maintaining his balance while ripping off rapid-fire combinations or one-shot power punches that sent Solis to the canvas. Gamboa’s feet are quicker than his hands and there lies the dilemma for his opponents. The taller Solis must have felt as though he was being struck by an invisible opponent because Gamboa closed the distance so quickly and struck so rapidly that the Mexican never had time to mount an attempt to block the punches that were raining down on him from every conceivable angle. Time and time again he found himself on the canvas shaking his head in amazement as though there was someone else in the ring hitting him in the head or kicking his feet from underneath him. Not even Manny Pacquaio, who stopped Solis in Round 8 back in 2007, dominated the cagey veteran with such ease. Then again, Gamboa is quicker, stronger and more polished than Pacquaio was four years ago.

If Gamboa is in First Class then USBA junior-featherweight champion Teon “The Technician” Kennedy (16 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 7 kos) of Philadelphia just got up out of his coach seat and is standing by the curtain that separates First Class and Coach. In an epic bout that should have been televised, Kennedy stuck to his game plan, lived up to his moniker and won a much-deserved unanimous 12-round decision over Jorge Diaz  (15wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 9 kos) of

“Count” Diaz (L.) biting Kennedy

New Brunswick, New Jersey. Diaz must be auditioning for an upcoming role in a vampire flick since during the post-fight interview Kennedy stated that he was bitten several times on the shoulder as evidenced by photographer Lou Babich Jr. Let me not go off on a tangent in an attempt to shed light on the cowardice of Diaz. But, I have to state that Diaz must have been desperate and felt that Kennedy was “whipping his ass so bad” that he had to resort to biting. Despite the transgressions, unbeknownst to Referee Smoger, Kennedy’s focus was never disrupted as he stayed in the pocket giving more than he was receiving, breaking Diaz’s will, forcing him to question his manhood and his concept of good sportsmanship. Aaron Davis, the New Jersey State Boxing Commissioner, should examine Kennedy’s shoulder, Babich’s picture and take action—a fine and suspension are in order. This is boxing, not some Draconian sport for the long-fanged from Transylvania.  

The opening stanza was the traditional “feeling out” round with neither man landing anything consequential. Kennedy used his range picking his shots as the shorter Diaz responded by digging to the body of the Philly fighter during the exchanges. In the second round, Diaz got Kennedy’s attention with a well-placed left hook. Not to be dissuaded, the poker-faced Kennedy fired back with a combination dispersing the smatter of premature excitement by Diaz’s fans, particularly those who were seated in press row. Many must have forgotten that we grow fighters in Philadelphia, the boxing capital of the United States, and not tomatoes. One left hook wasn’t going to turn the tide and Diaz realized it in the next round when Kennedy introduced him to the canvas with a quick combination. More embarrassed than hurt, the New Jersey native rose rapidly but he had to have realized that like rapper Rick Ross, Kennedy was thinking he was “Big Meech— Larry Hoover, whipping work hallelujah!!”  I wouldn’t be surprised that this was the point where Diaz decided to incorporate his incisors in the action.

The action was fast and furious in the next two rounds with Diaz advancing as Kennedy picked his shots. I have watched Kennedy enough to know that he was laying a trap for his opponent. At some point Diaz’s aggression was going to be his downfall because he came forward with little head movement like he was strolling down a busy street, eyes fixated on what’s in front of him, not paying attention to the peripheral action. In Round 6 Diaz walked into a well-timed right hand delivered with such power and

Kennedy (L.) on the attack.

precision that his body contorted like he was having an epileptic seizure, his right glove touching the canvas—a knockdown. Referee Smoger administered the count and wiped the fallen fighter’s gloves. Diaz was hurt badly and Kennedy swooped down on him like a falcon on a baby rabbit landing combinations. The fight should have been halted because Diaz was defenseless, getting struck like a piñata wearing boxing gloves for what seemed like eternity. The bell rang and he wobbled back to his corner on spaghetti legs. Had Diaz been seriously hurt it would be safe to assume that Smoger would have been the topic of many roundtable discussions amongst the boxing abolitionists. These hypocritical talking- heads would be mouthing well-crafted statements while at the same time holding season tickets to football games and expounding the virtues and artistry of downhill skiing.

Diaz showed tremendous recuperative powers and pressed the action in the subsequent rounds fighting on even term. However, it was Kennedy who became the aggressor, stalking his adversary in the final three rounds hurting him in the eleventh and pouring it on in the final round. Kennedy captured a unanimous decision by scores of 118-109, 117-109 and 115-111 and made a compelling argument to get seated in First Class.

In the opening fight of the live broadcast, featherweight Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia (24 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 20 kos) of Oxnard, California remained firmly in his #1 seat of the International Boxing Federation rankings by dominating NABF & NABO champion Matt “Sharp Shooter” Remillard (23 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 13 kos) of Manchester, Connecticut in ten rounds of their scheduled 12-rounder. Remillard is somewhat of a stylistic anomaly—a tall fighter who fights on the inside but lacks power—he couldn’t break an egg if he was standing on it. An excellent body puncher, he dug his vaunted left hook throughout the fight into Garcia’s ribcage with little or no effect. It was as though he was throwing pebbles at an elephant in hopes of toppling it over because the expressionless Garcia showed no deleterious effects.

Unlike Remillard, Garcia is a heavy-handed patient puncher able to methodically implode adversaries by pounding on them round-after-round until the sheer force of blows breaks their spirit, crushes their will to continue or renders them hapless on the canvas. You cannot bring a sling-shot to a gun fight, engage in a prolonged shoot-out and exit victorious. Remillard was doomed from the day the contract was signed. However, what he lacks in power is counterbalanced by his intestinal fortitude—the kid has the heart of a lion. Thus, each round Remillard engaged Garcia, staying close firing to the body and keeping a steady pace as the man from Oxnard countered with jack-hammer rights and hooks. By the fourth round, Remillard’s left ear was badly swollen almost twice its normal size, making him look like a cartoon caricature. However, he fought valiantly in an attempt to match Garcia’s gloved anvils that were slamming away at his core wreaking havoc on his body. Hurt at the end of Round 8, Remillard crashed to the canvas in the next round compliments of a thunderous Garcia right. Rising at the count of six, Referee Vera felt it was safe for him to continue. However, toward the end of the round a murderous left hook smashed into the side of his face and Remillard made a second trip to the canvas making it to his feet at the count of eight able to continue—fortunately the bell sounded to end the round. You garnered a sense that the fat lady was clearing her throat because it was inevitable that Remillard was not going to hear the bell to conclude the twelfth round. Courageously, he came out for the tenth round and continued the battle with Garcia. But toward the end of the round a right hook connected to his now grotesque left ear and he landed on his back. Remillard was up at the count of five and made it to the end of the round. Fortunately, his corner wisely protected Remillard from himself and did not allow him to answer the bell for the eleventh round. Garcia was declared the winner by technical knockout at 3:00 of Round 10.

OTHER ACTION

In a four-round heavyweight match former Notre Dame All-American football player and current Baltimore Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 2 kos) of Arlington Heights, Illinois won a unanimous four-round decision with legendary trainer Emanuel Stewart in his corner over Caleb Grummet (0 wins – 0 losses – 1draw) of Grand Rapids, Michigan by scores of 39-36 twice and 38-37. Zbikowski, fighting for the second time in two weeks, made his professional debut back in 2006 when he was an undergraduate at Notre Dame. The 25-year-old football player began boxing at the age of nine and had 90 amateur fights. Zbikowski won the first two rounds by using his jab and working the body, keeping Grummet, a mixed martial arts cage fighter, at bay. However, Grummet closed the gap, lost a point for landing south of the border in Round 3 and handily took the final round. In wake of an impending NFL strike, Zbikowski already has three more scheduled bouts.

 Undefeated junior-middleweight Glen Tapia (8 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 5 kos) from Passaic, New Jersey was impressive in dropping Eberto Medina (5 wins – 5 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) of Newark, New Jersey by way of Chinchipe, Ecuador in the second round, capturing a unanimous six-round decision by scores of 60-52, 60-53 and 59-54.

Rather than wait around for the 2012 Summer Olympics, 18-year-old Philadelphia amateur sensation Miguel Cartejena made the optimal decision by joining the punch-for-pay ranks. Cartejena dominated by shutting out Omar Gonzales (2 wins – 5 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of San Antonio, Texas and winning a unanimous decision 40-36 on all three scorecards in their four-round bantamweight bout.

Philadelphia middleweight Rashad Brown (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) won by technical knockout 1:41 of Round 3 over southpaw Darryl Parker (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 2 kos) of Louisville, Kentucky. Parker should cease his boxing career and venture to Hollywood to secure work as an actor or stuntman because he visited the canvas once in the second round and three times in the third all by punches that either missed or barely grazed him. 

In the opening bout of the evening, featherweight Camilo Perez (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico made short work of Desi Williams (0 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws) from Durham, North Carolina, dropping him twice and bringing closure at 3:00 of the opening stanza of their scheduled four-rounder.

It was an exciting night of boxing as Yuriokis Gamboa remained atop of the featherweight division, in First Class, with an impressive knockout of Jorge Solis! WBO champion Juan Manuel Lopez, seated at ringside and interviewed in the ring alongside Gamboa didn’t appear eager to want to leave his Coach seat and join the Cuban in a First Class match. Lopez gave the expected politically correct answer that it was business and the decision rests with his promoter. Mikey Garcia’s management, on the other hand, made it clear that their man, despite having five more professional fights than Gamboa, wasn’t ready to face him. I assume Garcia will face Gamboa by the time Raul Castro and the Cuban government abolishes the one-party system and have democratic elections. Gamboa would annihilate both Lopez and Garcia. Their best bet is to stay in Coach and leave the Cuban in First Class, solo.

Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece!

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About George Hanson., Jr Esq.

George Hanson., Jr Esq. has written 106 post in this blog.

Hailing from New Forest, Jamaica, Hanson started boxing as a teenager in Philadelphia under the tutelage of former welterweight contender, Dick Turner. He excelled, capturing four Pennsylvania State Amateur Championships—his last while a junior at Drexel University studying Accounting. According to most who have seen Hanson fight, “He is the best fighter never to have turned professional.”



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