Home Columns How Good is Former Cuban Olympian Yuriorkis Gamboa?

How Good is Former Cuban Olympian Yuriorkis Gamboa?

Just how good is former Cuban Olympian and Gold medal winner Yuriorkis Gamboa? If you’ve been tuning in to televised boxing matches, certainly you’ve caught wind of one of the most highly touted prospects in recent memory.

HBO has been all over Gamboa, trying to establish his presence on the network as a future superstar. With their money and status in the boxing realm, they have already partially succeeded. There is certainly buzz about Gamboa, amongst dedicated fans and casual supporters alike. And when he hasn’t been on HBO, Yuriorkis Gamboa still receives national television attention with appearances on ESPN. But is all the buzz he has been generating justified?

Yuriorkis Gamboa is a phenomenal athlete and at times, watching a fight of his you can be left breathless, overtaken by his raw physical talent and attributes. He has sensational hand speed and due in large part to that, he has great power in both hands. He doesn’t one punch KO his victims, he overwhelms them with power punches that they can’t see coming and can’t defend.

With an undefeated professional record and 11 KOs in his first 13 wins, the style certainly seems effective. He hasn’t been brought along slowly either, at 27 years of age there is no time to waste.

Since his defection (Yuriorkis Gamboa left the Cuban team during a trip outside the country. The highly decorated amateur boxer, besides the Olympic Gold he has many other medals in international competition and hundreds of bouts, eventually made his way to Germany.) he has fought 13 times in under 2 years and 3 of his last 4 opponents have been recognizable names in the boxing community.

However, Gamboa pays no regard to defense, despite a recent change in trainers that was supposed to impart just that. As he has moved along in class, Gamboa has developed the unfortunate habit of getting sent to the canvas. His complete inattention paid to the opponent’s attack leaves him exposed, his inexperience being on the defensive leaves him unprepared and a questionable chins leave him at danger if and when he faces a strong technical boxer who can stand his ground.

This hasn’t stopped HBO and many fans from gushing all over Gamboa. While he seemingly has the offensive arsenal of a young Roy Jones Jr., his bad form and defensive deficiencies seem more similar to another HBO favorite son, the highly touted, power punching and charismatic Prince Naseem Hamed. Of course, things did not end well for Hamed when a sturdy fellow with a good chin, carrying a chip on his shoulder and anvil in his hands named Marco Antonio Barrera laid waste to him.

While Jones displayed the same carefree (or careless), all-offense tactics in the ring, he thrived on his reflexes and awareness and never suffered the scares that Gamboa already has. While Gamboa certainly has the reflexes to avoid the big shots he occasionally gets tagged with, he seems to have so little experience attempting any form of defensive evasion or maneuver that his physical ability isn’t carrying him through unharmed.

There may not be any fighter of Barrera’s quality currently lurking in the featherweight or super featherweight ranks. Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have both moved on to more lucrative surroundings between lightweight and welterweight. However, there is a cast of young stars including Robert Guerrero and Steven Luevano who could certainly challenge, if not completely derail the growing myth of Yuriorkis Gamboa.

And just a weight class below Gamboa lays in wait his opposite: a technically sound, devastating puncher, named Juan Manuel Lopez who in this writer’s humble opinion, would end Gamboa before he truly ever gets started. Everyone that has boarded the Yuriorkis (and that’s your-E-or-kiss, if you’re wondering) Gamboa bandwagon, and there are plenty jammed on, may be in for a rude awakening.

Rather than speeding him along his journey to bright lights and major fights, Gamboa and his camp should spend the next year exposing him to more stepping stones and different styles, while drilling the word defense into his brain. There’s no doubt that Gamboa possesses great talent and blazing offensive skills, however he is not the complete package that HBO and others are already making him out to be.