The talent was there, to a mouth watering degree. But, sad to say, the legacy of Yuriorkis Gamboa as a professional fighter won't be all glowing. The 35 year old hitter got knocked down twice in the ESPN/Golden Boy main event Friday night, at the hands of Robinson Castellanos (24-12), and he declined to participate in round eight. A pro since 2007 after a decorated amateur run, it might now be quitting time for the Cuban, who makes Florida home.
His talent, it was apparent, but there were buts and ifs attached to it. He was flashy at times, but careless. He'd coast instead of passing and giving fans good bang for the buck. He'd enter into promotional and managerial contracts which ended up being bogged down in disarray.
As for quitting, I use that word sparingly. I QUIT piano lessons when I was nine; a prizefighter who has taken hard and clean and vicious shots in a bout who decides in the moment he just can't summon the needed courage and strength to go on, he “declined to participate.”
Here is the release which went out:
LAS VEGAS (May 5, 2017) – Continuing to honor its pledge to make competitive fights, Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN delivered two significant upsets in the main and co-main events on Cinco De Mayo, with lightweight Robinson “Robin Hood” Castellanos (22-11, 14 KOs) taking out Yuriorkis “El Ciclon de Guantánamo” Gamboa (26-2, 17 KOs) in the main event and Jesus Rojas (25-1-2, 18 KOs) claiming the WBA-NABA featherweight title from Abraham “El Chamaco” Lopez (22-1-1, 15 KOs) in the co-main.
In the main event scheduled for 10 rounds, Gamboa – a former Olympic medalist and two-time world champion – tasted the canvas in the second and fourth rounds before declining to come out of his corner for the eighth round, giving Castellanos the TKO victory.
“I am super happy and excited to get such a big win,” Castellanos said. “I won against a revered Olympian, and this win puts my career back on track after my last fight. This win is the opportunity that I needed, and it's because of the incredible team around me.”
“I felt super dizzy, and felt like I couldn't go on,” said Gamboa. “We trained hard.”
In the co-main event, Rojas from Caguas, Puerto Rico wrested the WBA-NABA featherweight title from Lopez of La Puente, CA. Rojas dropped Lopez three times over the course of the fight before the referee stopped the fight in the eighth round, giving Rojas the TKO victory.
“It's almost three years since I've fought in the U.S.; this win is the opportunity to be on the global stage, and take on world champions,” Rojas said. “I promised my father that I would become a world champion, and even though he is not with me any more, I carry on our dream. I hope that by the end of the year, I am competing for an interim title or even a world championship.”
“It's tough to swallow, I'm still processing it, but it happens,” Lopez said. “After this, I know I'm going to go back to the drawing board and start training hard again.”
Making his television debut, white-hot lightweight prospect Vergil Ortiz, Jr. (5-0, 5 KOs) out of Dallas, Texas went past the first round for the first time, but put Durango, Mexico's Angel “Pescado” Sarinana (7-6-2, 3 KOs) down in the third round with a savage right uppercut, and the referee ruled that Sarinana could no longer continue.
“I saw him get hurt in the first round when hit him in the body with a hook,” Ortiz said. “Since that moment, I was just looking for the opportunity to get the knock out, but he was a tough guy and was able to make it through. In the third round, I saw him lose he guard, and I landed my uppercut that sent him to the floor. I think after this, I'm ready to increase my rounds. I think I am ready to take on some tougher opponents.”
Opening up the televised fights on ESPN Deportes and ESPN2 in a battle of undefeated middleweights, Sao Paulo, Brazil's Yamaguchi Falcão (13-0, 6 KOs) utilized solid footwork and a barrage of left hands to saddle Morgan “Big Chief” Fitch (18-1-1, 8 KOs) of Pittsburgh, PA with his first defeat. All three judges scored the bout 100-90, giving Falcao a unanimous decision.
“It's been five months since I've been in the ring since my last fight,” Falcao said. “I had a lot of trouble adjusting and finding my rhythm. It's a journey, and I'm glad I got the win but if I want to reach my goal of fighting the big time fighters I have to improve everywhere.”
“I don't know what happened in there,” Fitch said. “I just know that I could have done better and been more serious in there. I'm at a loss of words.”
Tlaquepaque, Mexico's Alexis Salazar (9-3, 3 KOs) was the victor of this evening's Cinco de Mayo bout against Even Torres (6-3, 5 KOs) of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico by way of unanimous decision. During the rounds, the two fighters tested one another out, however it was clear Salazar outpaced his opponent in this super middleweight match lasting eight rounds.
Carlos “The Solution” Morales (16-1-3, 6 KOs) of Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ's Cesar Valenzuela (14-5-1, 5 KOs) labored through eight rounds of their lightweight bout. The evenly matched fighters boxed around one another and exchanged punches throughout their bout, only for Morales to knockout down Valenzuela on the mat at the tail end of round eight. Ultimately, the judges awarded Morales a split decision victory.
With famed trainer Jose “Chepo” Reynoso in his corner, Horacio “Violento” Garcia (31-2-1, 21 KOs) of Guadalajara, Mexico punished fellow Mexican fighter Fernando Vargas(32-14-3, 24 KOs) of Tijuana with thunderous punches in this featherweight fight. In the fourth round, Vargas was sent down on a knee by way of a body shot. For the rest of the fight, it was clear Garcia held the upper hand and was awarded the unanimous decision at the end.
In the final bout of the evening, Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (16-0, 6 KOs) of Los Angeles maintained undefeated status against Guadalajara's Victor “Pelon” Ruiz (21-7, 14 KOs) in a tough super bantamweight fight going the distance. Negrete brought his signature speed and nimble style to defeat Ruiz for all eight rounds.
Gamboa vs. Castellanos was a 10-round lightweight fight presented by Golden Boy Promotions. The event was sponsored by Tecate “Born BOLD.”