Tampa Bay Sports Day

Lopez and Gamboa shine in Knockout wins

Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa took one more step to a future big money showdown between the two kings of the featherweight division.

“JuanMa” Lopez (28-0, 25 KO’s) totally dominated and outmatched the skilled Steven Luevano to take away his WBO featherweight title in fantastic style. Lopez knocked out Luevano with a crushing right-left combo to floor Leuvano in the seventh round. Referee Benji Estevez stopped it at the :44 mark. In the co feature,  Gamboa (17-0, 15 KO’s) put on an fantastic performance in stopping Roger Mtagwa with a second round TKO at 2:35.

Lopez captured his second world title and hopes to one day match his idol, Felix ” Tito” Trinidad, accomplishment as the next great Puerto Rican fighter with four world titles. Trinidad was in the house and received the loudest cheer of the night from a crowd of about 5,000 in attendance at the Wamu theatre in Madison Square Garden. It was clear that Lopez’s power was too much for Luevano.

“We saw the video and we knew the right was there for me all night,” said Lopez.”I could feel I was landing it, and I was very surprised he took so many punches. He took a lot of punishment.”

Lopez nearly swept all the scorecards with one judge giving Luevano the 5th round. Lopez out-boxed him and hurt him repeatedly with straight left hands and quick hooks. Luevano was not able to use his counter punching skills as Lopez’s pressure was just too much.

JuanMa had a far easier time on Saturday night than the last time he fought at MSG. Lopez fought a life and death battle with Roger Mtagwa as he had to hold on for dear life in the final round to take the decision. He knew he had something to prove. I asked him what he thought was the difference from this fight than the Mtagwa fight.

“The difference was the four pounds and moving up in weight, said Lopez. ” I listened to my corner a lot more this time around. The last fight I did not listen to my corner as much I should have and stayed away from the gameplan. This time I was more discipline and it showed. I am still a work in progress and still improving.”

The turning point came when Lopez landed a great right that staggered the champion at the start of the seventh round. Leuvano backed up to the corner as he was badly hurt and Lopez went for the kill with the right hand and left hook combo for the knockout. As impressive as Lopez’s win was, Gamboa was the one that stole the show.

Gamboa had a far easier time with Roger Mtagwa than Lopez did. Gamboa retained his WBA featherweight title as he knocked Mtagwa twice in two rounds as referee Steve Smoger had seen enough and put a halt to the fight at 2:35 of the second round.

“I hope with this performance, no one compares me to JuanMa anymore,” Gamboa said. “We’re different fighters. I proved I’m Yuriorkis Gamboa.

From the sound of the opening bell, Gamboa used his blazing speed and power to totally take Mtagwa out of it. Landing some vicious left hooks in the 1st round, Gamboa knocked Mtagwa down toward the end of the first round with a left hand to the head.

Gamboa would not let Mtagwa breathe in Round 2 as he landed 38 of the 58 power shots he threw. Gamboa nailed Mtagwa with a power combination in the middle of the ring and then floored him with a right about halfway toward the round. Mtagwa and showed his heart as he tried to fight but Gamboa was too much as he would knock him down again and it was over.

” I came to demonstrate and become the best in my division, ” said Gamboa. I’d love for whoever the public or maybe the press considers the No. 1 featherweight, to have him in the ring for my next fight. That way I can show who is the best.”

With both guys victorious, the hope next would be a fight between the two but Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants to hold off a little longer.

“I want to sweep out the whole featherweight division first,” said Arum. I want both these guys to take all the guys in the division like Chris John and Caballero. All of them and I want to milk this up as much as possible. I want this to be the biggest money fight in the featherweight history. I owe it to both guys.”

Arum talks that the next time the two fight could be June with a split site doubleheader. Gamboa would fight in Miami while Lopez would fight in his native Puerto Rico. The mentioned names could potential matchups for each guy.

Earlier in the evening, Irish John Duddy improved his record to 27-1 with a first-round TKO of Juan Astorga. Duddy is one of the more popular New York fighters and continued to hold that clai. He would knock Astorga with a left hook to the body that knock him down to cause ref Wayne Kelly to stop the bout at 1:51.

With the victory, Duddy earns himself a spot on the undercard on the Pacquioa-Clottey undercard.