Saturday, January 10, 2009

FNF Review: Solis, Gamboa Win In Very Different Fashion

by Lee Payton

Cuba's most recent crop of amateur stars continued their path to professional glory last night, as they were featured on the Friday Night Fights card, which took place in Primm, Nevada. Gold medalists, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Odlanier Solis were both victorious in their bouts, but their in-ring personalities are very different.

Solis, 13-0 (9), was content to look for single shot counters against the gutsy Kevin Burnett, 13-2-1 (8), who was technically out-gunned, but never gave up on himself, or his plan. It looked like it could be easy work for the Cuban as he hurt Burnett in the middle of the first round, but the Georgia native kept his hands high and survived the round. Solis had Burnett going a little bit in the middle of the third when he jumped on him following a big overhand right, but couldn't finish and did nothing for the rest of the round.

More of the same in rounds 4-7, with Solis either standing his ground, looking to counter with single shots or doing very little. In the 8th round though a counter left hook to the temple wobbled Burnett's legs badly and another overhand right had him in desperate trouble. A short follow-up was enough for referee Jay Nady to stop the fight, as the brave American stumbled around. The time was 2:00 in the eighth round.

It was a win on TV, in front of a solid crowd, though it felt uninspired. Solis never came forward and only went on the attack when he had his man hurt. It's not only his lack of fire in the ring that should be worrisome for those looking for the next great heavyweight, but also a lack of discipline outside the ring. Solis came it 259 lbs, which is inexcusable for a 6'1 heavyweight. Another fat heavyweight is the last thing boxing needs.

There are also stylistic issues to deal with if we are to assume this guy will be fighting a Klitschko in the next couple years. His style and physical stature make him an easy mark for both. He sets up much like Miguel Cotto, with hands high andslightly bent forward, which makes him an easy target up or down the middle. He hasn't shown any head movement, and never came forward once against the much taller Burnett. Sitting back on the outside, looking to counter against either brother would be a disaster.

To be honest, I don't think there is much of a future there. Solis looks like a heavyweight with a lot of Dominick Guinn in him. Talented, some physical tools, can punch a little bit, but can't change gears. A guy who can fight back will either bring the tiger out of him or expose the lack of true fighting spirit. I'm betting on the latter, though I doubt we'll see him tested for awhile.

Yuriorkis Gamboa, on the other hand is full of tenacity to go with his physcial gifts. After a tentative first round in his fight against veteran, Roger "Speedy" Gonzalez, 27-3 (18), the star of the show seemed to be fed up with the measuring and posturing and came out hard and fast for the second round. He couldn't get much done against Gonzalez, who was content to keep his hands very high and look strictly for right hands between Gamboa's work. Then, after finshing a combination, he moved directly into one of those rights his opponent was looking for and went down for a second.
More embarrassed than hurt, he took the 8 count and went after Gonzalez like nothing happened. He closed the round backing his man up and doing some work on the ropes, but was still having a hard time landing anything clean.

The rounds then settled into a pattern- Gamboa doing way more work, but not doing much damage, while Gonzalez played defense and looked for single shots once in awhile. By the time the 9th round came, "Speedy" had slowed down considerably and his face started to bust up as the much faster man was breaking through his guard with flashy work.

The final round was one-sided. Gamboa had won every round except the second up to that point, but obviously wanted to finish strong in front of his crowd. He was still having trouble finding his best stuff in there, but his hard work paid off as a final volley had Gonzalez holding on while his mouthpiece hit the canvas. While in the clinch, referee Robert Byrd signaled that he had seen enough and stopped the fight with 39 seconds to go.

The stoppage may been a little quick, but the message was clear- Gamboa is someone to watch. Unlike his heavyweight stablemate, this flashy little guy seems to enjoy being in the ring and tries to take advantage of his immense ability. He has some technical flaws, like a low left hand, a reliance on reflexes defensively and he can be caught between his work, but you can tell that he is a fighter to his core.

He's that type of fighter that has the ability to stink a fight out, or play it safe, but it's just not in his nature. I get the feeling that he is one of those guys whose own bravery will get him in trouble from time to time, but you know he'll get up and start swinging. This Cuban defector has a future, and fight fans are going to enjoy watching it unfold.


Anonymous said...

I think you did an outstanding job sir.I agree solis needs to be able to change gears and kick it into overdrive.

Anonymous said...

Cubans are tuff, they bring a good fight to the game,i will love to watch it unfold. i think this Cuban will come out on top of most of his fights.