Boxing: Juan Carlos Burgos

Burgos aiming for another title shot

July, 24, 2013
Junior lightweight contender Juan Carlos Burgos returns to the ring Friday after coming away with a controversial draw in a title fight against Rocky Martinez in January.

Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KOs) is in search of a victory that could open the doors to another world title opportunity when he headlines ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) in a 12-round bout against Yakubu Amidu at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Sacramento, Calif.

Nicknamed "The Black Mamba," Amidu, 28, was called in as a late substitute for Colombia's Daulis Prescott, who withdrew because of an injury. A native of Ghana, Amidu is managed by actor Vince Vaughn.

Holding a clear height advantage, Burgos is sneaky, fast and powerful with both hands. The 25-year-old native of Mexico is a dangerous fighter. Before the draw with Martinez -- a fight that many believe Burgos won -- his only blemish was a decision loss in 2010 against Japan's Hozumi Hasegawa. Since then, Burgos is 5-0-1, including knockout victories over Frankie Archuleta and Cesar Vazquez.

"Juan was very disappointed with his last fight," promoter Alex Camponovo said. "He didn't feel good, obviously, about the whole situation. He blames two of the judges.

"I think he learned a lot from that experience, but he's not dwelling on it. He's just eager to get back in the ring and get back in the limelight again. He really wants to get another shot at the world title as soon as possible."

Amidu (20-4-1, 18 KOs) is an aggressive boxer -- not as technical as Burgos, but one who usually puts a lot of pressure on his competition. He has faced a variety of experienced opponents, including Ricky Burns, Ali Funeka, Joseph Laryea, Emeka Kodo and John Revish.

However, Amidu enters Friday's bout off two consecutive defeats. He dropped a close decision in an intense battle against Korea's Ji-Hoon Kim in January before coming up on the wrong end of a split decision against Haskell Rhodes in April.

For this fight, Amidu was unable to make the 130-pound limit, and Burgos accepted the challenge to go up to 135. Burgos announced that he would be coming back down to the junior lightweight division for his next bout.

"[Amidu] is training at the Wild Card," co-promoter and trainer Baba Sumaila said. "He's always training. When there's no fight, he knows how to train, but not too hard. When we have a fight, he increases the tempo to make him more ready for the fight.

"We know our opponent is very good, but we're ready for that. We are ready."

As usual, Burgos will look to set the pace using his long reach to throw combinations. Amidu will look to counteract this strategy by closing the distance and fighting at close range.

The Ghanaian, faithful to his style, will risk more in the exchanges in an attempt to land his combinations. He is tough and determined, although this may not prove enough for him to defeat an opponent like Burgos, an ample favorite to win this fight.

On the undercard, Cleveland's Miguel Gonzalez (21-3, 15 KOs) faces Brazil's Josenilson Dos Santos (26-1, 16 KOs) in a junior lightweight bout.

Gonzalez, 27, is a prospect on the rise coming off a victory over former lightweight titlist Miguel Acosta in May. Dos Santos enters the bout on a 12-fight win streak, including his last victory in May against Argentina's Carlos Ricardo Rodriguez. His only defeat was in 2009 against former junior lightweight contender Diego Armando Magdaleno.

I tried logging on to last night and couldn't get on. So I couldn't take a deeper look at the record of Cristobal Cruz, the not-so-sterling record of the underdog in the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights," which unfolds at Dover Downs.

I assumed Cruz, a 34 year-old Mexican, would be seen as the underdog against fellow Mexican Juan Carlos Burgos, for starters, because he will bring a record of 39-12-3 to Delaware, while Burgos, who I recalled had been in a title fight against Japanese ace Hozumi Hasegawa back in late 2010, is 28-1.

But then I realized that I was falling pray to an easy assumption. I was assuming that Cruz was the somewhat shopworn steppingstone who'd be in a bit over his head against the WBC silver super featherweight champion Burgos (ranked No. 2 by WBC; turned pro at age 16), who snagged that vacant strap last November, with a majority decision win over 19-0 Luis Cruz.

With Boxrec down, I put in a call to ESPN FNF analyst Teddy Atlas. I knew, being the pro he is, he'd already done ample homework on the mainers, and would be able to tell me, and thus I'd be able to tell you, how much of a shot Cruz likely had against Burgos.

Somewhat of a shot, Atlas told me, hammering home that I'd been a bit quick with the judgment regarding Cruz' so-so winning percentage.

"He's got a chance, Burgos is not a super, superstar," Atlas told me. "Burgos is younger, by ten years, a little more versatile, quicker, a little sharper. But Cruz will be there all night with the right hand. At 34, he's in the twilight, but he had success a couple years ago. His experience is what paid off, and his resiliency. He finally won a title at a later age. (Boxrec coming back up, I was able to see that yes, Cruz beat Orlando Salido, no dog, in 2008 for the IBF featherweight crown. He defended it three times before dropping it back to Salido in May 2010.)

"He's been in a lot of tough fights, what's he got left? Experience, heart, his right hand, which often comes out of left field," Atlas said of the vet who started his pro career at age 14, and has been off for 15 months. The analyst/trainer said we'll see veteran tricks of the trade from Cruz Friday, and that Burgos will need to work to get the W, and make sure he doesn't get hook-happy, and leave himself open for a right hand. Things could get a little sloppy at times, Atlas predicts, but no, in case you are like me, and make premature judgements sometimes based on records, no, he says, Cruz isn't shot.

"Cruz is in the twilight, yeah, he's at that place, but the guy has done some of best work in the twilight," Atlas said. "How many fights does he have left? I wouldn’t say 100, not even 20. But he has enough for a guy who's still a little wet behind the ears. Cruz has a puncher's chance."