The timing couldn’t be more awkward but the talent is there.
At the time this was written, Yuriorkis Gamboa had missed the news conference Monday in his hometown of Miami to kick off the promotion for his fight against Brandon Rios on April 14 and was nowhere to be found.
Rumors are swirling that he plans to ally himself with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and pull out of the fight. Stayed tuned for further information on this bizarre drama.
So what does that have to do with the RING Ratings?
Well, let’s go back a few days to Chonburi, Thailand. That’s where unheralded Sonny Boy Jaro stunned the boxing world by stopping Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – rated No. 8 on THE RING’s pound-for-pound list – on Saturday.
That set off a debate as to whom would replace Wonjongkam on the pound-for-pound list.
Naturally, everyone on the venerable Ratings Advisory Panel seemed to have a different opinion. Lucian Bute. Anselmo Moreno. Bernard Hopkins. Toshiaki Nishioka. Gamboa. They all had their proponents but none was an obvious choice.
In the end, THE RING Editorial Board decided this:
Bute might have Top 10 ability but has yet to beat a top-tier opponent. Moreno has looked brilliant but also has had some very close calls. And Hopkins has the best resume and admirable cunning but needs the right opponent to succeed at 47.
That left Nishioka and Gamboa as the finalists, as it were.
Nishioka, the 35-year-old WBC junior featherweight titleholder, has been a dominating 122 pounder since 2004, the year he last lost a fight. He’s a dynamic boxer with good power who hasn’t been afraid to fight overseas, all of which worked in his favor.
Gamboa, the 30-year-old WBA featherweight titleholder, is building an impressive resume. He has dominated five elite opponents over the past two years. And he is similar to Nishioka in terms of his dynamism and punching power.
The difference was the fact that Gamboa is one of the hottest fighters in the world and in his prime, which probably can’t be said of Nishioka. That tipped things in Gamboa’s favor.
Thus, the Cuban defector enters THE RING’s pound-for-pound ratings at No. 10, pushing Timothy Bradley (No. 9 last week) and Vitali Klitschko (No. 10 last week) up one notch each.
Now all we can do is wait to see what the future holds for Gamboa. Will he show up at a scheduled news conference Tuesday in Los Angeles? Will he go through with the fight? Or will he pull out and attempt to bolt from his promoter, Top Rank?
In other words, Gamboa has the talent. The question suddenly is whether we’re going to see it in the ring anytime soon.
RING RATINGS UPDATE
Heavyweight: Champion Wladimir Klitschko stopped unrated Jean-Marc Mormeck to retain his title Saturday in Germany.
Cruiserweight: Ola Afolabi (No. 6 last week) leap frogs No. 4 Antonio Tarver and No. 5 Giacobbe Fragomeni after stopping unrated Valery Brudov in five rounds on the Klitschko-Mormeck undercard.
Afolabi has won five fights in impressive fashion since losing a close decision to Marco Huck in 2009.
Super middleweight: Thomas Oosthuizen (No. 6 last week) retains his position after stopping unrated Serge Yannick in six rounds Saturday in South Africa.
Bantamweight: Malcolm Tunacao (No. 8 last week) retains his position after stopping journeyman Yuki Takemoto in four rounds Saturday in Japan.
Flyweight: Sonny Boy Jaro (unrated last week) becomes RING champion after stopping titleholder Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in six rounds Friday in Thailand. Wonjongkam drops to No. 5.
Pound for pound: Wonjongkam drops out of the Top 10. He is replaced by Yuriorkis Gamboa, which pushes Timothy Bradley (No. 9 last week) and Vitali Klitschko (No. 10 last week) up one notch each.
Rated fighters in action this coming weekend (with current ratings)
Middleweight: Daniel Geale (No. 1) vs. Osumanu Adama (Wednesday)
Lightweight: Ricky Burns (No. 7) vs. Paulus Moses (No. 6)(Saturday)
Featherweight: Billy Dib (No. 9) vs. Eduardo Escobedo (Wednesday); Orlando Salido (No. 3) vs. Juan Manuel Lopez (No. 4) (Saturday); Mikey Garcia (No. 8) vs. Bernabe Concepcion (Saturday)
Junior flyweight: Masayuki Kuroda (No. 4) vs. Ryoichi Taguchi (Monday in Japan, Sunday in US)
Strawweight: Denver Cuello (No. 7) vs. Kid Suryana (Saturday)
Follow Michael Rosenthal on Twitter @MichalRosenthal