Tampa Bay Sports Day

HBO’s Boxing After Dark makes it first broadcast of 2010 with a very exciting doubleheader.

For the second time in three months, two of boxing’s brightest young stars will headline a card at the Wamu Theatre in Madison Square Garden. Juan Manuel Lopez and Yurikois Gamboa look to take one last step toward a possible collision course between the two if they are victorious. It would be the most exciting fight between two young and top fighters in a long time.

But first things first for Lopez and Gamboa as they both have their hands full with very formidable challengers. Lopez (27-0, 24 KO’s) moves up to Featherweight as he challenges the WBO champion, Steven Luevano(37-1-1, 15 KO). What Juan Ma will be dealing with, in Luevano, is a fighter making the eighth defense of his WBO title who possesses an innate counter-punching ability and by far is the most skilled boxer that Lopez has faced so far.

Luevano is not the most exciting fighter in the world as he doesn’t possess the great speed or power that many of the top boxers have. What he does have is a great boxing IQ and someone that Lopez should not look past.He is very skilled southpaw fighter who many feel will give Lopez a real run for his money.Luevano has been dominant in the Featherweight division for a while now and is in a position where the most competition he can get is by facing an explosive smaller fighter who is willing to move up and try his luck in the Featherweight division.It should be very interesting to see not only how Luevano deals with Lopez’s aggression but also how Lopez deals with Luevano’s smart, tactically sound boxing.

Lopez hopes that to have an easier time in this fight than his last one. If you remember, Juan Ma had to survive a life and death battle against Rogers Mtagwa (26-13-2, 18 KO’s), Gamboa’s opponent for Saturday. Mtagwa almost pulled the great upset as he rocked Lopez bad at the end of the 11th round and if the bell not sounded, a knockout loss was very possible for Lopez. Mtagwa pushed hard in the 12th round and came within seconds of winning the fight but Lopez held on to finish the fight and win a tough unanimous decision.

Despite all that, Lopez gained a great deal of experience in the fight and will come into his fight against Luevano as a smarter fighter. He needs to be that if he is going to win this fight.Hopefully, he has learned to close some of the openings he gave Mtagwa, because Luevano will be able to exploit them much more easily.

While Luevano will be a tough opponent, I expect Lopez to come out the victor.He is too fast, too strong, too dynamic, and too skilled for Luevano> I say it’s goes the distance with Lopez getting the decision.

In the other featured bout, Mtagwa hopes to take advantage of his great performance against Lopez as he gets a shot against the dynamic and undefeated top prospect, Yurikois Gamboa(16-0, 14 KO’s).

The current WBA featherweight champion is on a roll right now. He is coming off a dominant performance when he knocked out Whyber Garcia in the 4th round on the undercard of the Lopez/Mtawga fight. He has won his last six fights by knockout and will try to have an easier time with Mtawga than Lopez did.

While Gamboa might not have the best chin or defense in the world, he has amazing combination of speed and power .I think he will better than Juanma at avoiding Mtagwa’s unorthodox but powerful shots.Gamboa will go into this fight with something to prove as he probably thinks that he should be the one main eventing this card and not Lopez. In his last fight, Gamboa made his feelings known that he is the man.

“I don’t think Juan Manuel Lopez is better than me,” Gamboa said. “He’s not a challenge for me. If we fight, I will show that. I think I should be the one carrying the card with Lopez because I am a better fighter than him.”

Just like the Lopez-Luevano fight, this should be a good bout as well. However, Yuriorkis simply has too much talent to lose. Mtagwa will come to fight, just as he did against Lopez, but Gamboa is going to prevail with a knockout coming between Round 8-10.