By: Matthew N. Becher
In its final show of the year, HBO boxing will unleash a stacked card broadcast live on HBO Latino & HBO. From the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY, Golden Boy Promotions will team up once again with Top Rank promotions, to showcase what should be a very entertaining night of boxing.
First up will be the return of Yuriorkis Gamboa (24-1 17KO). The 2004 Cuban Olympic Gold medalist and former 2 division world champion, Gamboa will be fighting for the first time in 2015, after a number of promotional disputes have kept him on the shelf. In 2014, he suffered his lone professional loss to fighter of the year, Terence Crawford, in a very exciting matchup in Omaha, Nebraska. Gamboa will look to get back on the right path against Hylon Williams Jr. (16-1-1 3KO). Williams is a young fighter with limited experience and punching power. It will be a great starter fight for “El Ciclon de Guantanamo” to shake that year of ring rust off.
The next intriguing matchup of the night will be in the Light Heavyweight division. Yunieski Gonzalez (another Cuban defector) (16-1 12KO) is coming off of the first loss of his pro career to Jean Pascal. The fight was an extremely controversial decision, as almost all writers and pundits had Gonzalez clearly winning that fight and possibly earning a chance against Sergey Kovalev for the Light heavyweight titles. Instead, Gonzalez will be pitted against the very tough, undefeated, Ukrainian power puncher Vyacheslav Shabranskyy 14-0 12KO). Both of these men are heavy hitters and both are looking to make their mark on the division in a big way. Expect a lot of fireworks in the ring, from two guys with extensive amateur backgrounds who carry a professional record combined of 30 out of 31 wins and 24 KO’s.
Next up is a great fight against two warriors who have been through the highs and lows of the sport. Joshua Clottey (39-4 22KO) became a world champion in 2008 by beating Zab Judah for the IBF welterweight title. He has been in the ring with the likes of Antonio Margarito, Diego Corrales, Miguel Cotto and ultimately culminating with a world title shot at Cowboys Stadium against fighter of the decade Manny Pacquiao. That was Clotteys last loss, in a 4 fight stretch that has spanned over 5 years. He is now moved up to the 154 lb. division where he will take on one of the gatekeepers Gabriel Rosado (21-9 13KO). Rosado is only 29, but he has been in some extremely tough fights. With wins against Jesus Soto Karass, Sechew Powell, to title losses against Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin and David Lemieux. The one thing you cannot take away from Rosado is his entertainment value and heart. He has become the middleweight champion in BKB fighting (where two fighters fight in a circular pit with no ropes) and has even most recently shown his acting abilities by playing, what else, a boxer in the new movie “Creed”. Regardless of the age or losses on these two men’s records, expect both to come in well prepared and not back down when it comes to brawling.
The co-main event features one of boxing hottest young stars. Nicholas Walters (26-0 21KO) had one of the best 2014 years anyone could have had. He defended his WBA Featherweight title against former champ Vic Darchinyan by 5th round KO, and then went on to win the WBA Super Featherweight title by knocking out Nonito Donaire in six rounds. Walters let 2015 slip away due to injury and weight issues, losing his title on the scales to Miguel Marriaga, but still pulling off the Unanimous decision. He will take on Jason Sosa (18-1-3 14KO), a fighter who has shown off his power punching ability, but against a very much lesser opponent. This is a huge step up fight for Sosa, and pretty much a “testing the waters” of the 130lb division for Walters, who will look to keep his undefeated record intact and possibly meet up with Vasyl Lomachenko, somewhere along the lines in 2016.
And finally, in the Main Event. Interim WBA heavyweight champion Luis Ortiz (another standout Cuban defector) (23-0 20KO), will put his title and undefeated record on the line against Bryant Jennings (19-1 10KO). Ortiz most recent victory came only two months ago when he knocked out Matias Vidondo at Madison Square Garden on the GGG-Lemieux undercard. Ortiz is an older fighter, 36, do to his Cuban nationalism and fighting in the amateur rankings for so long. Jennings on the other hand, is coming off of his first professional loss in April of this year to the then undisputed Heavyweight king, Wladamir Klitschko. Jennings has only been boxing 7 years and has already jumped to an amazing level at the young age of 31. He has been in the ring, at the professional ranks, with a much higher caliber of opponent then Ortiz, with wins against Artur Szpilka, Bowie Tupou and Mike Perez. This is a big name fight for both men. A win could get them a very good shot at a piece of the heavyweight title next year, and both know they need this victory to move forward in their respective careers.