The long awaited return to the ring for Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0, 16) saw the talented Cuban claiming the interim WBA Super Featherweight title as he defeated the unheralded Filipino Michael Farenas (34-4-4-1, 26). Despite the fact Farenas was all but unknown prior to this fight he proved to be a genuinely worthy adversary for Gamboa's return to the ring after 14 months out.
The opening round saw Gamboa looking like he had never been away as the fast handed Cuban landed some wonderful combinations on Farenas who struggled to catch him before he got away. The hand speed was again evident in the following round as Gamboa dropped Farenas who immediately got up as if nothing had happened.
Sadly for Farenas head clashes in the third round saw him suffering two massive cuts that bled through out the remainder of the fight. Despite the cuts however Farenas refused to go away and refused to just roll over and instead he rocked Gamboa at the start of the fourth round as he proved he had the power to hurt the Cuban. Although Gamboa seemed to take the round off it was still interesting to see that Farenas had the power to rock him.
Farenas showed again in round 5 that he wasn't there just to collect the pay day he willingly traded with Gamboa and really brought the action to the Cuban. Whilst Gamboa showed he was a class above his Filipino opponent he also seemed to be slowing and this allowed Farenas chances to land to both the head and body of Gamboa. The battling between the two saw Gamboa rocked in the 6th and 8th however he dropped Farenas in the 7th to really open up the lead on the scorecards.
Due to how much Farenas' shots were hurting Gamboa it only made sense for Gamboa to start to use his boxing skills and box cautiously and that's what he started to do for long periods of rounds. In round 9 however Gamboa went for the finish and was surprisingly dropped by a beauty of a shot by Farenas that seemed to not only drop Gamboa but also scramble his legs for the rest of the round. Sadly for Farenas he couldn't capitalise and Gamboa eventually recovered and appeared to do enough to reestablish himself over the later rounds as he took a clear decision.
Whilst I feel the cards were wide, Gamboa was a clear winner, though he's a fighter who needed a fight like this, a grueling 12 rounds against a crude but tough and hurtful fighter to really shake off every bit of rust that he'll have acquired due to his long lay off.
For Farenas this was the sort of showing that shows he belongs in the ring with the top fighters, for Gamboa it was him saying "I'm back".