Cuban defectors Yuriorkis Gamboa, Odlanier Solis and Erislandy Lara were all victorious on the season premier of ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, with mixed results as to how the fighters actually looked.
In the TV opener from Primm, Nevada, junior middleweight prospect Lara improved to 3-0 with a first round TKO of Rodrigo Aguiar. The 25-year old southpaw, who now lives in Germany, battered Aguiar (5-4, 3 KO) and made his outclassed opponent look like a walking, breathing punching bag. It was, in bare terms, the night's most impressive performance.
Heavyweight Odlanier Solis improved to 13-0 with his ninth knockout, beating down big Georgian Kevin Burnett, buckling his legs bad enough for a referee stoppage in the eighth round of a scheduled ten.
Solis, 28, was hardly what you'd call explosive in his U.S. debut. He looked lethargic, apathetic, and, well, lots of other non-flattering adjectives. He was clearly a superior athlete in comparison to Burnett, but it was Burnett pressing the action, if only behind a jab he worked hard to establish, and also failed to establish.
Instead of pushing the button, Solis simply waited on Burnett to make mistakes and give him openings. Burnett, to his credit, provided few, though Solis did get a couple of big flurries that Burnett mostly quelled. The eighth round flurry was set in motion by a big shot that staggered Burnett and saw his knees all but completely give out. After a few more heavy shots, referee Jay Nady stopped the fight.
In the main event, Yuriorkis Gamboa scored a final round stoppage of Roger Gonzalez, improving to 13-0 with his 11th knockout. Gamboa went down yet again, this time a flash counter shot in the second round. But besides that, the fight was all Gamboa. Gonzalez played a good defensive game, but did next-to-nothing offensively and was never truly in the fight.
The stoppage was also pretty debatable -- OK, screw it, the stoppage stunk. Gonzalez was barely hurt and the fight had 48 seconds left. If the man was to be knocked out, let him get knocked out. I know I'm someone who says there's no reason letting someone get hurt, but stoppages like this are no good for anyone, either.
In all, it was not an impressive performance by Gamboa, and the further into his career we get, the more likely it seems that as soon as he faces a strong-chinned puncher, he's going to get his proverbial block knocked off.