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Fight Preview: Yuriorkis Gamboa v. Rogers Mtagwa

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Lopezgamboa_medium Related: BLH's preview of Steven Luevano v. Juan Manuel Lopez

While there was plenty to say about Luevano-Lopez, I have to be honest. The featherweight title fight on Saturday between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Rogers Mtagwa seems pretty cut and dry to me.

Of the few complaints about Gamboa, these are the most usual:

  • He's wild
  • He fights cocky
  • He has a poor chin (this one is just nonsense)
  • He has bad balance (this is what the chin issue really is)

They're fair complaints, I suppose, but they also make him a terrific foil for Mtagwa.

I like Rogers Mtagwa. Two years in a row now, he's been in Fight of the Year contenders that came out of nowhere. In 2008, he had an unbelievably gritty war with Tomas Villa that was the best fight of that year according to many hardcore fans, and just last year, he fought Juan Manuel Lopez tooth-and-nail in another instant classic, nearly dethroning the young titlist at 122 pounds.

Mtagwa gets by because he's tougher than leather. You have to ignore his record (26-13-2, 18 KO) and focus on the fact that the guy can really fight. He still doesn't make a living from boxing, working as a roofer still in Philadelphia, as Kevin Iole talked about the other day.

He's an easy guy to root for. He's a late-bloomer who at 30 and after years of being booked as an opponent has come into his own through hard work and the fact that he's seemed to learn from his fights. Instead of being a guy that accepted his role, he kept trying to get better. And now, he is better.

But Gamboa has phenom talent. His speed is blinding, his power has been devastating thus far, and he does everything Mtagwa does. I bet he'll be able to do it first in this fight.

The only worry for Gamboa is a big one though. Mtagwa, at 5'5", has a huge 72" reach. Gamboa is a half-inch taller than Rogers, but will be giving up seven inches of reach in this fight. Mtagwa is solid fighting inside and doesn't exactly use his long arms in a conventional way, but he can swing big from further away. And with Gamboa having cowboy tendencies, there's always that chance he gets caught, and Mtagwa has plenty enough power to make a difference, too.

I think this will be a tremendously entertaining fight no matter how long it lasts. If it lasts two minutes, it's going to be two minutes of fury. If it lasts about six or seven rounds, as I expect, it's going to be a whirlwind of action. Unlike Luevano-Lopez, this fight doesn't have much stinker potential. Gamboa TKO-7

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