Lem Satterfield

Gamboa eyes De Leon, fights with Donaire, Salido-Lopez winner

Yuriorkis Gamboa had a goal in mind when he entered the ring against featherweight counter part Jorge Solis in March.

The unbeaten, Cuban-born former Olympian didn’t only plan to score a knockout over the former WBA junior lightweight titleholder, but he aimed to do so in sensational fashion.

It was apparent that Gamboa had accomplished his mission following a dizzying display of speed, power and defensive wizardry that ended the fight by the fourth round.

Gamboa floored Solis (40-3-2, 29 knockouts) twice each in the second and final round and once in the third to improve to 20-0 with his 16th knockout.

“I think that Yuriorkis Gamboa is a huge star in boxing, and I look at Gamboa as being one of the elite fighters in the sport,” said his promoter, CEO Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc.

“They want him back in the ring..and we will do that. There are some signature fights awaiting Gamboa down the road.”

The 29-year-old Gamboa will put his skills and talent on display once again against 31-year-old Daniel Ponce de Leon (41-3, 34 KOs) on HBO’s Boxing After Dark from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on Saturday night. 

Gamboa is targeting a similar effort as the one against Solis, who suffered only the second career knockout loss after having gone into the eighth with Manny Pacquiao before being stopped in their junior lightweight bout of April, 2007.

“The reason I did so well against Solis was because he simply wasn’t up to my status. He had a lot of experience, but my knowledge as a boxer was superior to his,” said Gamboa, a former gold medalist who lives in Miami.

“That just showed you, and a lot of people, and the world that follows boxing what place I’m in right now. That shows you the level that I belong on.”

Gamboa would have dethroned Solis as IBF beltholder, but he missed the reweigh-in prior to the fight, meaning the belt was not on the line. Although Gamboa also had entered the ring as the WBA’s titleholder, having defended that belt five times, he has since been mysteriously relieved of that crown as well.

Arum was at a loss to explain why Gamboa no longer has the WBA crown.

“They’re all They all do everything for their own business. Every one of them with the exception of maybe the IBF and the WBO. They’re businesses, so they thought that it was in their best business interest to take the title away,” said Arum.

“No one’s going to waste time to going into court and to try to fight it. This whole thing is beginning to be nonsense with all of these organizations. So who can waste time on following it up.”

Gamboa was disappointed.

“I feel sad that they took the belts away from me. When I fought Solis, it was for the [IBF] belt, and now, I don’t have a belt. But it’s really not about the belts,” said Gamboa.

“It’s about seeing who the best is out there. I think that de Leon is a very good fighter and a very good boxer, but I’m not here to talk. I’m show it on Sept. 10 in the ring, and from there, we’ll go on.”

Ponce de Leon is coming off a 10-round, unanimous decision loss to unbeaten junior lightweight Andrien Broner (21-0, 17 KOs) in March.

Many ringsiders felt as if the Broner victory should have gone to de Leon, who was in only his third appearance as a junior lightweight.

Broner ended a seven-fight winning streak that had included four knockouts for de Leon, including two straight stoppages.

De Leon’s previous loss before Broner had come by first-round knockout against Juan Manuel Lopez (30-1, 27 KOs), who dethroned de Leon as WBO junior featherweight titleholder in June of 2008.

The loss to Lopez ended a 10-bout winning streak that had included seven stoppages for de Leon, who previous setback had been by a unanimous decision loss to ex-titleholder Celestino Caballero (34-4, 23 KOs) in a junior featherweight bout in February of 2005.

Gamboa said that he sees similarities between de Leon and Solis, which could be bad news for his opponent. Gamboa, nevertheless, respects de Leon, even if he feels as if he will be the best fighter de Leon will have faced.

“I don’t know what he’s going to bring, but I think that it’s going to be a good fight. But I have my game plan already. He’s going to see a better boxer with great elegance and a boxer with great punching power,” said Gamboa.

“In other words, he’s going to find out that in me, I have everything that exists and that is necessary in a very good boxer. He’s going to see something that he’s never faced. I just want to face the best once at any weight. As long as they’re the best, it doesn’t matter what their weight.”

Arum has plans to match Gamboa against the winner of a rematch between WBO titleholder Orlando Salido (36-11-2, 24 KOs) and southpaw Lopez should Lopez get beyond a bout with Mike Oliver (25-2, 8 KOs) on Oct. 1.

Salido dethroned Lopez with an eighth-round knockout in April, this, after having lost a unanimous decision to Gamboa one fight earlier in September of last year.

In addition, fighters such as WBC and WBO bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) and talented southpaw featherweight prospect Gary Russell (17-0, 10 knockouts) have each expressed the desire to face Gamboa.

Russell even went as far as saying he would, in fact, easily defeat Gamboa.

“I don’t feel that there is anybody in my weight class who is as good as I am in the featherweight division,” said Russell. “There’s no one in the division who can beat me, and that includes Yuriorkis Gamboa, Juan Manuel Lopez or anyone else.”

But Gamboa scoffed at the notion.

“Really? You know, nobody really shows that they really, really want to fight me,” said Gamboa. “There are boxers who have said in interviews that they want to fight me because they know that the name, ‘Gamboa,’ is a big name that is up there.”

Whether it is Donaire, Russell, Lopez or Salido, Gamboa does not care whom he faces.

“I’m ready to go 126, 135. I’m ready whenever I have to fight. Right now, this is something that the promoters want. I’m ready to move up or whatever. I just want the big fights,” said Gamboa.

“When those fights are ready to go, then I’ll be ready. I’m confident in my ability. I’m ready for those challenges. It’s just a question of my promoters getting together and to decide if that’s the next fight for me. I’ll fight anyone.”


Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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