While Manny Pacquiao continues to tear through the sport like a typhoon, some forward-looking fans are wondering from where boxing’s next fistic storm will emerge.
One answer could be Yuriorkis Gamboa, who is appropriately nicknamed “El Ciclon de Guantanamo.” His speed, mobility, explosiveness and reachable chin sparks memories of Aaron Pryor’s heyday and Gamboa hopes to enhance his star when he defends his WBA/IBF featherweight belts against veteran Jorge Solis – arguably his best opponent yet.
CompuBox research has unearthed three factors that may influence the outcome.
The Early Avalanche: Of Gamboa’s 15 knockouts, 12 have come within four rounds, including 10 in the first two. To win, Solis must survive Gamboa’s early assault, for if he does the Cuban becomes less effective.
In seven CompuBox-tracked blowouts (four rounds or less) Gamboa landed 41.8 percent of his total punches (19.7 of 47.0) and an eye busting 50.4 percent of his power shots (17.9 of 35.6). His more outstanding efforts came against Rogers Mtagwa (49.5 percent overall accuracy, 59.8 power accuracy), Gilberto Luque (61.2 percent, 69.4 percent) and Whyber Garcia (35.3 percent, 46.7 percent).
But when Gamboa is forced to go 10 or more rounds those numbers drop precipitously. In four such fights Gamboa landed just 26.1 percent of his total punches (37.6 percent lower) and 35.6 percent of his power shots (29.4 percent lower). Curiously, Gamboa’s output was 20 percent higher in the longer fights (58.7 to 47.0), perhaps because his attention shifted toward winning rounds rather than starching opponents.
Can Solis exploit the situation should be get past the early tsunami? His history suggests he has the tools, but they must be sharpened to a razor’s edge.
Solis’ activity, accuracy and aerobic capacity: If Solis’ 2010 campaign is any indicator (KO 7 Likar Ramos, W 12 Mario Santiago and KO 6 Francisco Cordero), the 31-year-old may be peaking as a fighter.
Solis’ numbers in all categories progressed from fight to fight. Against Ramos (a southpaw) he averaged 64 punches per round (of which he landed at a 25.7 percent rate), landed 17.6 percent of his jabs and 33.5 percent of his power shots en route to bulges of 115-68 (total connects) and 76-38 (power connects). On defense he enjoyed a plus-9.9 in overall percentage (25.7-15.8) and a plus-18.5 in power percentage (33.5-15.0)
Against Santiago (another lefty), those numbers climbed to 80.2 punches per round, 34.4 percent (overall), 19.4 percent (jabs) and 43.8 percent (power). He out-threw Santiago 962-749 and out-landed him 331-219 (overall) and 259-137 (power). The percentage gaps in Solis’ favor were smaller (34.4-29.2 overall and 43.8-38.2 power) however.
Solis managed to elevate even more against Cordero as he threw 81.2 punches per round (31 percent above the 57.5 junior lightweight average) and enjoyed 41.9 percent marksmanship. He landed 30.6 percent of his jabs and an impressive 53.3 percent of his power shots en route to massive statistical gaps (205-83 in total connects, 75-38 in jab connects and 130-45 in power connects). The gaps in effectiveness were staggering – plus-23.7 overall (41.9-18.2), plus-16 in jabs (30.6-14.6) and plus-30.3 in power punches (53.3-23.0).
Solis is also a balanced fighter in terms of jabs versus power punches. The split was almost perfect against Cordero (245 jabs, 244 power shots) and Ramos (221 jabs, 227 power shots) while the tilt was more dramatic against Santiago (371 jabs, 591 power shots). Gamboa’s offense traditionally goes 2-to-1 toward power shots but against Jonathan Barros (W 12) he threw 331 jabs and threw 223 power shots.
Solis is durable, for the 12-year veteran has gone 10 or more rounds 11 times, going 9-1-1, while Gamboa is 5-0. Solis is also naturally bigger, for he’s coming down from 130.
While his opposition lacked Gamboa’s gifts, Solis couldn’t have asked for a better preamble. But has that preamble prepared him for what’s coming? The next item may offer a clue.
Solis vs. Another Gifted One: In April 2007 Solis fought future pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao at 130. Though Solis fought well early, Pacquiao eventually pulled away as he out-landed Solis 140-63 (overall), 31-20 (jab connects) and 109-43 (power connects) en route to an eighth-round stoppage, the only such result of Solis’ career.
Prediction: To win Solis must use his height and reach, throw combinations at distance and hope he catches Gamboa coming in. Conversely, Gamboa must nip in, out and around and nail the slower Solis with shots he can’t see. Solis’ size, toughness and volume will present problems but Gamboa’s gifts will prevail by decision.