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Gamboa belts Rojas for belt
Yuriorkis “El Ciclon” Gamboa wins WBA interim featherweight belt with TKO over Jose Rojas; Aydin ekes out win over Ouali

Ringside report & photos by Chris Cozzone /

Remaining undefeated and picking up an interim world title belt, Yuriorkis Gamboa handed Venezuelan southpaw Jose Rojas a Cuban missile crisis for ten rounds before the bout was called to a halt.

Gamboa’s TKO win topped off a five-bout card televised on Showtime’s ShoBox from the Star of the Desert Arena in Primm, Nev. The card, promoted by Roy Englebrecht and Primm Valley Casino Resorts, was the first of back-to-back boxing cards at the arena.

The pro-Cuban crowd of 4,600 might not have gotten a dramatic slugfest with the main event, but they did get a dominating win for the smooth-moving, swift-smacking Gamboa.

Gamboa was not without problems, for Rojas’ enigmatic movement and southpaw stance enabled him to survive until the late rounds.

In round one, Rojas was on the run, flopping around the ring like a scarecrow in the wind as “El Ciclon” belted him with two rights that reddened his right orb.

Rojas had a better second stanza, trying to outbox Gamboa in the center of the ring, but the Cuban proved too fast.  Gamboa showed patience, until one too many accidental headbutts had him unleashing blazing combinations on Rojas in the third. The Venezuelan weathered the rush and was able to mount a lukewarm attack one round later.

Meanwhile, Rojas’ right eye started to swell, and the fight turned into a game of survival.

In the fifth, Rojas went down from a tangle of legs, though Gamboa landed a glancing right as he fell. Referee Russell Mora ruled it a slip and the one-sided fight continued, Gamboa racking up each round with his patient aggression.

Gamboa’s rights and left hooks landed with more frequency and power through the sixth, and, as Rojas’ eye edged toward closing, Gamboa’s domination turned to punishment in the seventh.

Unable to put his man away, Gamboa resorted to subtle showboating, at one point smacking Rojas with a jab and gliding around his foe to end up behind him. But just when it looked Gamboa had Rojas all figured out, Rojas’ peculiar movement bought him more time—as in the eighth.

In the ninth, spurred on by the crowd chanting “CU-BA! CU-BA!”, Gamboa stepped up his attack. In the tenth, he hammered Rojas from corner to corner until, at 1:31, Ref Mora had seen enough.

Prior to the stoppage, the cards read 90-80, 90-81 and 89-81.

“This was a good fight and I am happy, said Gamboa, now  15-0, 13 KOs. “Rojas took a lot of punches. But I felt good. I am ready for any of the top featherweights in the world.”

Now the WBA Interim featherweight champ, Gamboa called out the WBA’s “real” champ at 126, Chris John.

Rojas, who has a decision loss and draw with John, falls to 25-7-1, 17 KOs.

Aydin squeaks out split win over Ouali

In the co-main event, Turkey’s Selcuk “Mini Tyson” Aydin retained, both, his undefeated record and WBC International welterweight strap, with a split verdict over southpaw Said Ouali, of Morocco.

The Moroccan, fighting out of Las Vegas, had not lost a fight since 2004—and if it weren’t for giving the fight away to Aydin, while languishing too often, too long, on the ropes, it would’ve been an easy win for him.

Aydin had no answer for Ouali’s stance or style, but was given plenty of opportunity to steal or even out a round by hammering uppercuts and body shots when his foe was playing rope-a-dope.

Aydin went right to work, almost sauntering in at Ouali in the first, looking to end the fight early with a big shot. Despite the moniker, “Mini Tyson” fell short of kayo power.

Ouali went to work in the second, outhustling his opponent, but repeatedly gave him equal time to play catch-up when on the ropes. After covering up, enduring body shots and rope burns on his back, Ouali would, then, pivot out and hammer back at Aydin—though not often enough. A right hook staggered Aydin in the third, but no follow-up from Ouali enabled him to steal the round with a series of uppercuts at the end.

Ouali spent the fourth and fifth on the ropes, making it an easy round for Aydin, but in the sixth, Ouali started boxing again, and landing hard body shots. When Aydin retaliated with a body attack of his own, he landed low enough to cost him a point.

Though proving he was the general, Ouali allowed Aydin to catch up in the seventh—yes, more rope burns—and made it too close in the eighth. But in the ninth, two big straight lefts crashed into Aydin’s chin and he was in trouble as the bell rang.

Ouali outboxed his way through the tenth round though, spurred on to score a knockout by his cornermen, Aydin came out for the championship rounds desperately swinging. Round 11 was his by a margin but the final round had Ouali busier, in control and nearly a finisher in the final 15 seconds.

No easy fight to score, the judges’ scores swung from 114-113 Ouali to 115-112 Aydin, to 116-111 Aydin. had it 114-113 Ouali.

Aydin rises to 18-0 in his first U.S. appearance whle Ouali drops to 25-3, 17 KOs.

Pawlak splits Stoval’s forehead in split win

In a sixer at super middleweight, Christian Pawlak (11-3, 6 KOs) of Berlin, Germany won a split decision over Ivan “Sitting Bull” Stoval (10-4, 7 KOs), of Pomona, Calif.

Pawlak took on the role of aggressor in the first, while Stoval sought to counterpunch. A headbutt early in the second split a gash on Stoval’s forehead, but despite the blood, he met Pawlak halfway, landing hard body shots.

Stoval strove to box in the third, but it was his body attack that won him the round. The fourth and fifth were close, Pawlak’s aggression giving him a slight edge, but in the sixth, both banged to close out the show.

The judges were split, 59-55 apiece, and 58-56 for Pawlak, giving him the win.

Battle of Undefeateds

In a six-round battle of undefeated locals, Jesse Vargas (5-0, 2 KOs), from the Mayweather camp, proved too strong for Anthony Lenk (5-1, 3 KOs).

It was, by far, the best fight on the card.

Vargas wasted no time, flooring southpaw Lenk with a straight right. Lenk, landing on his butt, in his corner, wearing a surprised look on his face, got up and bravely fought back. Trying to jab and move at first, Lenk ended the round duking it out with the stronger Vargas.

The local leftie was back in the fight in round two, jabbing and outboxing Vargas. Cutting back on his attack, Vargas landed two big hooks, bloodying Lenk’s schnozz, but lost the round on points.

In a back-and-forth third, Lenk outhustled Vargas, but both hammered each other’s body. In the final moments, Vargas let loose with a hook that buckled Lenk’s knees.

Lenk was on his way to winning the fourth when he was staggered again at the end. He held on, clearly hurt, but came back in the fifth, outboxing his opponent.

In the final round, Lenk’s fate was sealed when Vargas managed to floor the leftie yet again, with a right. In worse shape this time, Lenk got up and fought back, but any chance of winning was gone.

All three judges had it for Vargas, with scores ranging from 59-53 to 58-54 to 57-55.

Battle of Unwons

In a battle of unwon bantams, Los Angeles’ Jose Pacheco (1-5-5) picked up his first win with a four-round unanimous decision over Mario Gonzales (0-2-1), of Las Vegas.

Neither fighter had defense, but both were willing mixers who landed when thrown—Pacheco, however, landed harder and more often.

Scorecards read 40-36 twice, and 39-37, for Pacheco.

Fight nixed

A six-round lightweight bout between Las Vegas’ Sharif Bogere (6-0, 3 KOs) and Justo Vallecillo (5-8, 2 KOs) was cancelled. Vallecilo did not make his flight to Vegas from San Antonio due to an expired driver’s license.

Bonus shots


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