The long gaps between fights and a talented opponent finally caught up with Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Despite his relative inactivity the past three years, Gamboa believed his skills would prove sufficient to end Terence Crawford’s lightweight title reign after one defense.
Crawford served Gamboa a rude awakening and pinned the first loss in the Miami resident’s professional career late Saturday. Known for his solid boxing skills, Crawford displayed a superb power punching performance in his ninth-round technical knockout victory over Gamboa in Omaha, Nebraska.
Propelled by three earlier knockdowns, Crawford dropped a fading Gamboa a fourth time with a solid right uppercut late in the ninth round. Referee Gino Rodriguez waved the fourth knockdown and stopped the bout at 2:53 of the round. With the victory, Crawford (24-0, 17 KOs) successfully defended his World Boxing Organization lightweight belt.
“It was a great battle; you had two warriors in the ring,” Gamboa said. “Someone had to win and it was him.”
Gamboa (23-1) controlled the pace early and had the pro-Crawford crowd at the CenturyLink Center restless. Although Gamboa lacked height and reach against Crawford, the Cuba native was the busier fighter in the opening three rounds, connecting with rights and left hooks to the head and rights to the body.
Fighting for the first time professionally in his hometown, Crawford turned the tide when he permanently switched to a left-handed stance that seemed to frustrate Gamboa in the fourth. Crawford scored the first of his three knockdowns in the fifth, sending Gamboa to the canvas with a right-left combination to the head.
Keeping Gamboa at distance with a lead right jab to the head, Crawford increased his punch volume in the middle rounds. Crawford dropped the former featherweight champion again with a three-punch combination to the head in the eighth round.
Gamboa, who has fought once each of the past three calendar years but with inactive periods as lengthy as 15 months, forsook defense and swung wildly searching for a fight-changing punch in the ninth. And Gamboa temporarily stunned Crawford with a combination to the head.
But Crawford clinched, shook off the punch’s effects and dropped Gamboa later in the ninth with a left to the head. Gamboa again reached his feet but Rodriguez didn’t allow him to continue after Crawford scored his fourth and final knockdown.
Gamboa accepted the result but believed Rodriguez should have allowed the round to expire.
“The referee made his decision,” Gamboa said. “You have to respect it, but I felt I could have continued.”
AROUND THE RING
• Pembroke Pines resident Ed Paredes will fight Alfonso Gomez on July 9 in Las Vegas. The scheduled 10-round junior-middleweight bout will be Paredes’ second since he signed a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions.
“We’ve had a great training camp, and we’re ready to go,” Paredes said Saturday. “I felt that my career was moving a bit slow, but after we signed with Golden Boy, the opportunities for big fights are getting better.”
Although Paredes, 29, will fight Gomez at a catch weight of 151 pounds, he plans on returning to the talent-rich welterweight class in his search for title fortunes.
“They have a lot of great fighters at the welterweight division,” Paredes said. “I just want a chance against any of the top fighters, so that makes the fight against Gomez very important.”
Paredes (35-3-1, 23 KOs) was ranked among the top 15 welterweights by the sport’s major sanctioning bodies last year.
He anticipates the veteran Gomez, one of the featured fighters during the first season of The Contender reality series nine years ago, to fight him at close range and maintain repeated pressure. Gomez (23-6-2, 12 KOs) has not fought since losing a unanimous decision against Shawn Porter in July 2012.
The Paredes-Gomez bout at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will be televised by Fox Sports1.
• Former world heavyweight champion and Pembrokes Pines resident Shannon Briggs won a regional title after his victory by unanimous decision against Raphael Zumbano Love on Saturday in Oklahoma City.
Briggs, 42, the last U.S.-born heavyweight with a sanctioning body belt eight years ago, is now 55-6-1.