We've already lost the biggest fight of the year. Let's not lose another. So ... the fight the boxing world needs to see is Yuriorkis Gamboa against Juan Manuel Lopez in a featherweight unification showdown. On Saturday, Gamboa and Lopez scored knockout wins at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Let's now move them to the main arena in a fight that will bring back the days of Salvador Sanchez vs. Wilfredo Gomez or Bobby Chacon vs. Ruben Olivares.
Lopez, from Puerto Rico, was making his 126-pound debut at MSG. The hard-hitting southpaw moved up and stopped Steve Luevano in the seventh round to claim the WBO title. In the co-feature, Gamboa, from Cuba, knocked out Rogers Mtagwa in the second round to retain his WBA title. Gamboa is making everyone forget about Chris John,
Some background for those who may not remember. In October, Top Rank paired Lopez and Gamboa on the same card. Lopez fought a life-and-death battle with Mtagwa, retaining his 122-pound title by close unanimous decision. Mtagwa had him reeling in the final rounds and Lopez barely hung on. It would be his last bout at 122 pounds. The Gamboa camp scoffed at the win. Lopez suggested that he go ahead and try and do better against Mtagwa. He did and he did. Although, in fairness, Mtagwa was also moving up in weight. Still, it was like a motor bike taking on a tank.
Juanma is 28-0 with 25 knockouts. Gamboa is 17-0 with 15 knockouts. You do the math,
It was also a good night for Long Island at the Garden. Huntington junior welterweight Chris Algieri scored a six-round unanimous decision over James hope. And Plainview's Tommy Rainone, fighting with an injured right hand, scored a four-round unaninous decision over Gerardo Prieto. Look for Rainoe to appear at the Garden in June, on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman junior middleweight title fight.
(In the photo above, Gamboa joins Cuban boxers from the past at his weigh-in on Friday. From left, former world featherweight champion and Hall-of-Famer Sugar Ramos, former NABF junior lightweight champion Frankie Otero, Gamboa and former No. 1 middleweight contender Florentino Fernandez.)