Lem Satterfield

Exclusive: Gamboa says he won’t fight Rios unless the deal is right


The attorney for THE RING’s No. 1-rated featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa said the former Cuban Olympic gold medalist won’t fight the magazine’s No. 1-rated lightweight, Brandon Rios, on April 14 on HBO unless he is “operating under terms that are satisfactory” regarding his contract with co-promoters Top Rank Inc. and Ahmet Oner.

Gamboa (21-0, 16 knockouts) did not show up for a noon press conference on Monday at the Versailles Restaurant in Miami, Fla., and said that he will not be present at the Los Angeles presser at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom today.

“No,” Gamboa said when asked if he would attend the L.A. press conference on Tuesday. “There’s no contract and there is no fight.”

Gamboa spoke to RingTV.com from Las Vegas, where he arrived on Sunday and has been training at the gym owned by WBC welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. Gamboa’s interview was translated by his wife, Maria Cabrera.

“Whenever everything is clear with my contract, that’s when the fight will happen, but right now I’m not under the terms that I want the fight to happen,” Gamboa told RingTV.com. “I don’t have a problem with HBO, and I hope that HBO doesn’t have a problem with me either because everything that’s happening with me, I didn’t choose to be in the position I’m in right now.

“But this is the time to do this, because if I don’t stand up for myself, nobody else is going to do it. I never thought that things would wind up this way, but there was never a contract and there was never a signature from Gamboa agreeing to fight with Brandon Rios on April 14.”

Gamboa contends that he has never been happy with the terms of the deal and that he has not signed a bout agreement to face Rios (29-0-1, 22 KOs), with whom he is scheduled to fight for the vacant WBA lightweight belt at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

Gamboa’s lawyer, Sekou Gary, says his client is willing to work things out with his co-promoters, but he also stresses that the undefeated boxer-puncher is unsatisfied with his current situation.

“He is looking to come to a resolution with Top Rank and the co-promoter, Arena Box-Promotion, and Ahmet Oner, and he’s looking to go in another direction; he’s hoping to come to an amicable resolution with these guys,” said Gary, whose father, Willie E. Gary, has earned the nickname, “Giant Killer,” for his billion dollar success in high profile cases.

“Top Rank and Ahmet Oner are in the same position. Ahmet Oner is the promoter that he’s signed to, and Ahmet Oner did the co-promotion with Top Rank, so they’re both the same entity as far as we’re concerned, and we’re not happy with either of them.”

Although officials from Top Rank Inc. or Oner’s Arena Box-Promotions could not be reached concerning the status of Gamboa’s contract at the time of this filing, Top Rank Inc. spokesman Lee Samuels told USA Today that Gamboa is under contract with the company for another two years.

“He can’t fight for anyone else,” said Samuels.

Gary would not speculate on whether or not Gamboa would contest his contractual agreement with either promoter.

“We’re not going to comment directly on that, because we’re in the process of working on that,” Gary said. “We don’t want to predict the future. We’re in the process of trying to deal with the future right now and we don’t want to be pigeon-holed into that position.

“Because we don’t really know what’s going to happen with resolving this matter. It could turn out in a couple of different ways. There are a few different scenarios and we just have to find one that he feels comfortable moving forward under. We have to be operating under terms that are satisfactory to the fighter, and that’s the bottom line.”

Gary also wanted to be clear that his client is not afraid of Rios or withdrawing from any legal agreement.

“We have concerns because there are people saying that Gamboa is backing out of the fight, and things of that nature, and that’s not true,” Gary said. “(Gamboa) has never signed on to the fight, so he never has backed out of the fight. He just wasn’t going forward with a fight that they hadn’t reached satisfactory terms on.”

Gamboa said he skipped out on the press conference “because I never signed a contract for the fight, and since I didn’t have a contract, and we’re still under negotiations, then there was no reason for me to go to the press conference.”

“When I told them that I was not going to show up, they told me that there was no way that they could cancel this, and that I should just show up and be there and this and that,” said Gamboa.

“But I said, ‘I didn’t sign anything, so I’m not going.’ I told Jose Perez, who works with Ahmet Oner, on Saturday, when I spoke to my lawyer, that I was not going to go to the press conference on Monday.”

Gamboa also denied reports such as that in USA Today that he is close to signing with Mayweather’s promotional company.

“I’m here in Las Vegas with my father [Carlos Gamboa,] and I’ve been training in Mayweather’s gym because he [Floyd Mayweather Jr.] is my friend,” said Gamboa. “He offered me his Gym so that I can train there, since the fight is going to be here in Las Vegas. That’s the purpose of my training here.”

Gamboa said he wants the fight as much as Rios does.

“The message to my fans is that, obviously, I’m not scared of Brandon Rios. They all should know that. I have no problem fighting with him or any other boxer,” said Gamboa.

“But the problem is with my promoters and how they’re doing their business with me. So it has nothing to do with Brandon Rios, but with the way that the business is being handled.”



Photos / Naoki Fukuda

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