GBP on ESPN2 Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Robinson Castellanos, Abraham Lopez vs Jesus Rojas, Yamaguchi Falcao vs Morgan Fitch & Vergil Ortiz
BY KID HERSH
From Las Vegas Nevada on Cinco De Mayo the day before the big PPV fight came Golden Boy Promotions boxing on ESPN2.
First up on the card was Yamaguchi Falcao (12-0, 6KO's) vs Morgan Fitch (18-0-1, 8KO's). Robert Byrd was the referee. In the first round Falcao was testing Fitch early on, pressing him fairly hard and throwing power punches in the first minute of the fight. Fitch was getting hit flush but was able to get on his wheels and create enough distance while also throwing educated enough punches to keep Falcao from continuing his forward progression in the second half of the round. The second round looked a lot like the first with Falcao starting off fast and hard but backing off a bit when Fitch was not cracking. Falcao was hitting Fitch flush with straight lefts as well as right hooks from Fitch leaving his left hand too low too often. As the rounds went on it looked to me like Falcao was getting frustrated from Fitch fighting back and not going anywhere or getting discouraged, despite Falcao winning every round and landing the better punches. Fitches size and jab was what was giving him just enough trouble to not dominate completely. Falcao did manage to get into rhythm better in the second half of the fight as he was boxing off his toes and sitting down on his punches and landing them flush more frequently. He dominated the sixth round and was mounting damage on Fitch who was starting to show the signs of it by the end of the sixth. Falcao continued winning the rounds but did not really go for the kill. Teddy Atlas and Bernard Hopkins were giving him hell for it but what I see is a guy that just isn't willing to lay down in Fitch; he is a tough guy that mentally will not give up unlike what Atlas said about him not being a "professional fighter mentally". Falcao would end up winning the decision via a shutout UD. He was not super impressive, but I would say at least he hit his rhythm in the second half of the fight instead of having a total stinker for every round.
Next up was blue chip prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr (4-0, 4KO's) vs Angel Sarinana 7-5-2, 3KO's). Referee was Jack Reiss. Ortiz landed some beautiful power punches in the first round but went into the second round for the first time in his career. He was in control of the fight and hurt Sarinana multiple times until he got the stoppage victory in the third round when he scored a knockdown off of a beauty of an uppercut.
Next up was Jesus Rojas (24-1-2, 17KO's) vs Abraham Lopez (22-0-1, 15KO's). Referee was Tony Weeks. In the first round Rojas was very aggressive and had success reaching Lopez's chin - seeming to stiffen his legs a couple of times. Lopez could not get Rojas's respect with his power so he got on his wheels and was moving around the ring near the end of the first round and into the second round. He was really utilizing every bit of the ring he could but Rojas was tracking him down well and cutting off the ring. Rojas could not miss with his left hooks and put Lopez down with one in the middle of the second round. Lopez got up and made it through the round but was not on steady legs and still did not get the respect of Rojas. Lopez recouped between rounds and came out in the third and fought Rojas in the pocket. He held his own, surprisingly, but as Teddy pointed out; he is fighting Rojas's fight as this style and range of fight is exactly what he wants. So Lopez was doing ok in a seeming last stand sort of tough guy way but it was not really fighting a winning fight, long-term, for him. Lopez was really showing us his heart in the fourth round as he continued fighting on the inside and seemingly tried to knock out Rojas while also trying to do the most amount of damage that he could. He landed some good punches - perhaps punches that would change the fight against many other people - but Rojas took them well and fired back, dropping Lopez for a second time in the fight. Lopez rose and gave ground but was still firing back everything he had - again showing amazing heart in doing so and great conditioning. Lopez went back to boxing from the outside - not winning the rounds but doing a better job than the previous inside fighting. Rojas started to really target the body in the sixth round and chop the tree down a chunk at a time until he clubbed Lopez into submission in the eighth round. Great showing for Rojas here - who did exactly what he needed to do. Lopez really came to fight as well and so despite him losing his first fight and not fighting the smartest game plan in the world he did himself no shame here because he continued through a lot of adversity that most people could not.
Before the main event Teddy Atlas and Bernard Hopkins went back and forth about the big fight tomorrow between Saul Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. They could not agree on Canelo coming in at 164lbs - nine pounds heavier than he ever has before.
Main event time featuring Yuriorkis Gamboa (26-1, 17KO's) vs Robinson Castellanos (23-12, 13KO's). The referee was Russell Mora. in the first round Gamboa was too fast and too sharp for Castellanos. Castellanos was handling Gamboas shots well though and was not discouraged from coming forward. In the second round Castellanos landed lots of overhand rights - a couple of which seemed to stun Gamboa. He carried this momentum into the third round and landed a right hand when Gamboa was squared up with his hands down on the inside. The shot dropped Gamboa but he was lucky that it was at the very end of the round so he rose and the bell rung to end the round. He was dropped from another right hand early in the fourth round and it looked like the fight might be over due to Gamboas legs being gone but he was able to buy time despite being on queer street. Castellanos seemed to punch himself out while Gamboa surprisingly made it through the entire round while not really totally regaining his legs and balance. Gamboa did land some good counters in there near the end of the round to keep Castellanos off of him. Gamboa did not get his legs beneath him until the sixth round - which is when he took the fight back over as his body recouped and he got his speed and sharp punches back. He was still vulnerable, as usual, on defense though and got himself right back in trouble in the seventh round. Castellanos is able to land when he needs to though and despite not being the crispest puncher or having heavy hands he is hurting Gamboa when he needs to. In the seventh round he gave Gamboa more hell - ending the round by banging away to his body while Gamboa hung on for dear life. Then the unexpected came when Gamboa told his corner he did not want to continue - saying "ya no" to give the nearly 20/1 underdog Robinson Castellanos the big upset victory. Gamboa, meanwhile, may have just ended his career on a sad note as the multiple gold medalist never really seemed to achieve the heights of fame that he was set up for. As Teddy said; he was so bright early on in his career that it was like looking directly into the sun, but now that blinding light has greatly faded and there is not much to look at.