A star was born on Saturday night in Omaha, Nebraska.
Terence Crawford, the first Nebraska-born boxing world champion, retained his WBO Lightweight Championship, stopping a game Yuriorkis Gamboa in Round 9 of a scintillating all-action war at the CenturyLink Center.
Crawford (24-0, 17 KO) struggled in the early rounds. He had trouble timing Gamboa’s punches, seeming to drop the first few rounds while having difficulty finding his rhythm and coping with his foe’s speed.
Gamboa (23-1, 16 KO) darted in and out, popping Crawford with a variety of shots to the head and body to capture the first four rounds. But things went horribly wrong in Round 5, when Crawford connected on a hard right-hand counter that sent the Cuban to the mat.
The challenger came out for Round 6 on shaky legs, and Crawford, sensing blood and with a sellout crowd behind him, remained on the attack.
Gamboa was felled again in Round 8, but he seemed to stagger Crawford in Round 9 before being dropped for a third time. Rising on wobbly legs, Crawford closed the show in front of his hometown fans, putting Gamboa on his back a fourth time with a wicked uppercut, and forcing the referee to stop the bout.
In the opening contest of the HBO telecast, undefeated Russian middleweight Matt Korobov used two knockdowns in Round 7 to capture a unanimous decision from Jose Uzcategui.
Scores were 97-91 twice and 96-92 for Korobov.
Korobov (24-0, 14 KO) was the better technical fighter throughout the contest, and he dominated the early rounds. But—as has been a bad tendency for him throughout his career—he seemed to tire in the middle rounds, giving his foe openings to get back in the fight.
Uzcategui (22-1, 18 KO) came on in the middle rounds, but didn’t have the power to make a dent, and he was dropped twice early in Round 7, cementing the margin of victory for Korobov.