The Journey Continues For Yuriorkis Gamboa

BY David A. Avila ON June 25, 2014
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Since dangerously sneaking away from his Cuban boxing team and crossing the border of Venezuela into Colombia, the mercurial Yuri Gamboa is driven toward stardom. World titles are good but star treatment means so much more.

That’s why he signed with music mogul 50 Cent, a star. Can it rub off?

Talent doesn’t always mean star treatment as the Cuban speedster has discovered. For all of the amateur accolades and professional wins without a loss, the ability to fill a 12,000-seat arena has escaped him. But he’s very close.

Gamboa (23-0 16 Kos) faces newly crowned WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford (23-0, 16 Kos) and though a win boosts his status, it’s not a signature fight. HBO televises the world title fight from Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday June 28.

Ticket sellers make the big money in boxing. Gamboa sought a fight with popular undefeated Mikey Garcia knowing that a win would open eyes. After hounding the Mexican-American fighter for more than a year, negotiations suddenly collapsed.

“It was legal issues,” said Gamboa.

Top Rank claims that it was Gamboa’s insistence on more money. Others claim it was Garcia’s looking to change portions on his contract. The Cuban prizefighter has been forced to wait like an unmarried man whose friends have all been betrothed.

Loaded with talent, Gamboa, through necessity, needed to take the fight. It could be the most difficult challenge of his career.

Crawford zoomed up the rankings with three decisive wins over Breidis Prescott, Alejandro Sanabria, and undefeated Andrey Klimov. Then he flew to Scotland to challenge and defeat Ricky Burns in his home country. Anyone who fights and wins a title in another country can claim big britches. Those Americans today who can claim a similar feat are Tim Bradley, Robert “The Ghost Guerrero, Steve Cunningham, and a few others.

“I just look at myself as an all-around fighter,” said Crawford, 26, during a telephone conference call. “I just feel that I’m flexible.”

Crawford and Gamboa both have speed and agility. In the past the Cuban has been knocked down but jumps back up like a Jack-in-the Box. He once explained that he realized boxing fans like knockouts and rumbles. So he adapted the pressure style and holds back his box and move tactics for when he absolutely needs it. But he always goes for a knockout.

“People like to see fights with knockouts,” said Gamboa. “If I wanted to box all day I could win every fight easily, but fans don’t like that.”

Crawford can box and move too.

“It’s going to be a good challenge. He’s a good fighter like myself,” Crawford said.

Gamboa needs a win badly to edge up the ladder toward stardom and financial success. One thing going for the 33-year-old Cuban is talent and the savvy business mind of promoter 50 Cent. Somehow he’s managed to find success in everything he does and now he’s maneuvering into the cutthroat world of boxing.

The talented Gamboa does not deny Crawford could be dangerous. But he has one thing in his back pocket that he feels can’t be taught.

“I would say that my boxing IQ is very high and a lot of people underestimate me,” Gamboa said.

Expect a tactical fight if Gamboa can’t knockout the speedy Crawford early in the fight. So far Gamboa has been able to navigate through every dangerous portal. Will Omaha be his Waterloo?

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Comment on this article

Froggy says:

Should be a great fight, just too bad one of them has to lose their O ! Setting a good example for other boxers though, fight the best and let the chips [records] fall where they may !

oubobcat says:

Gamboa was one of the most gifted fighters I ever saw. He seemed destined for greatness. The problem...he started to believe he was great before he did anything in the ring. His entourage for some of those early fights he had were sometimes bigger (seriously) than the crowds in the arena.

Top Rank was moving him well and moving him into a big fight with Brandon Rios. Rios was the perfect opponent for Gamboa to shine against and put on a show that would have started to get some real buzz going in his career. But reportedly some people got into his ear about his paycheck for that fight and he backed out.

He shortly thereafter went with 50 Cent to guide his career instead of those people at Top Rank who had done a good job. And his career has gone stationary since. He has had three fights since he suddenly backed out of the Rios fight in 2011 and none can be characterized as good performances inside the ring.

Despite the natural talent, Gamboa has not fixed any of his flaws inside the ring particularly on defense. He has relied on his natural athleticism to win fights in the past. He can't do that in this fight against a fighter just as athletically gifted and much more technically sound. If Gamboa holds his hands low, he will get hit repeatedly. If he pulls back in a straight line with his hands down, he will get hit time and time again. If he squares up to Crawford, he will pay for doing so. This is not Michael Farenas or Darleys Perez, this is Terence Crawford. I think Crawford wins and may even get a stoppage.

brownsugar says:

Gamboa was one of the most gifted fighters I ever saw. He seemed destined for greatness. The problem...he started to believe he was great before he did anything in the ring. His entourage for some of those early fights he had were sometimes bigger (seriously) than the crowds in the arena.

Top Rank was moving him well and moving him into a big fight with Brandon Rios. Rios was the perfect opponent for Gamboa to shine against and put on a show that would have started to get some real buzz going in his career. But reportedly some people got into his ear about his paycheck for that fight and he backed out.

He shortly thereafter went with 50 Cent to guide his career instead of those people at Top Rank who had done a good job. And his career has gone stationary since. He has had three fights since he suddenly backed out of the Rios fight in 2011 and none can be characterized as good performances inside the ring.

Despite the natural talent, Gamboa has not fixed any of his flaws inside the ring particularly on defense. He has relied on his natural athleticism to win fights in the past. He can't do that in this fight against a fighter just as athletically gifted and much more technically sound. If Gamboa holds his hands low, he will get hit repeatedly. If he pulls back in a straight line with his hands down, he will get hit time and time again. If he squares up to Crawford, he will pay for doing so. This is not Michael Farenas or Darleys Perez, this is Terence Crawford. I think Crawford wins and may even get a stoppage.


Nicely done oubobcat....we can't forget about Gamboa's defensive liabilities.

brownsugar says:

The falling out between Gamboa and Arum over the Rios bout has been well documented.
Following that disappointment 50 and Gambia experienced additional grief as they watched a high profile fight between Gamboa and Mikey Garcia implode due a disagreement on the pursesplit...

Not once but twice.

In a recent interview 50 claims that Gamboa trained for eight months during the Garcia talks so they were already close to the 135 limit before the fight with Crawford even went into negotiations.

50 claims that Arum didn't want to risk exposing Gamboa to Garcia because he didn't want a major Hispanic attraction like Garcia to lose his luster in front of his huge fan base.

But big Bro and trainer Robert Garcia along with Mikey were chomping at the bit to mix it up with Gamboa to prove that Garcia was no fluke but a true p4p entity capable of competing with the best.

To his credit Gamboa prefers to aim sraight for the top (like former amateur standouts Rigo and Lomanchenko)...

When you've been accustomed to being the Creme del la creme, like Gamboa, ....its not surprising that he wants to go right for the jugular vein of the lightweight division.

Guys like Gamboa live for the opportunity to showcase their skill against the most highly rated competition.

I'm still not offering a prediction. But I'm getting a sense that we are going to witness something special tomorrow.
A hard fought battle between two of the divisions' finest.
Each man entering the fight in peak condition.
No excuses for either man on Saturday night.

amayseng says:

My concern is that Gamboa is going to have a lot of rust

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