Brandon Rios unveiled a poster of Yuriorkis Gamboa standing next to referee Robert Byrd during an unspecified bout. “This coward never wanted to fight!!!” read a message across the top of the photo in large white letters.
That was part of the scene at the press conference at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom in Los Angeles on Tuesday, where Rios (29-0-1, 16 knockouts) was on hand to tout his HBO-televised fight with Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) for the vacant WBA lightweight belt at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on April 14.
Rios’ problem was that Gamboa was not present. The former Cuban Olympic gold medalist was also no-show a day earlier for a similar event at the Versailles Restaurant in Gamboa’s adopted hometown of Miami, Fla.
“It kind of sucks. Gamboa’s not here. I made a poster for him. So everybody can see that I’m not scared of Gamboa. Everybody’s going to see that he’s scared of me. So we made a poster of Gamboa,” said Rios.
“He’s not here today. It’s a nice poster. He looks very nice in it. This is Gamboa. This is what’s really going through his mind. He’s scared. He’s being a coward. Come on. Face me like a man.”
In an interview with RingTV.com, Gamboa cited contractual issues and an unsigned bout agreement among his reasons for not being present at the press conferences.
Gamboa’s attorney, Sekou Gary, said Gamboa will not fight Rios unless he is “operating under terms that are satisfactory” regarding his contract with co-promoters Top Rank Inc. and Ahmet Oner.
Rios, however, did not seem to care about Gamboa’s personal differences with Top Rank Inc., which is also his promoter.
“I went to Miami in your back yard and you didn’t show up. I’m here in LA. You didn’t show up. Face me like a man,” said Rios, who then referred to the failed negoations to make a bout between WBC welterweight beltholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. and WBO counter part Manny Pacquiao.
“This is the best fight that boxing has of today. Mayweather-Pacquiao’s not doing it. If you mentioned my name out of your mouth, come on, let’s give the fans what they want. So Gamboa, I know that you’re going to watch this and you’re going to Youtube this on the internet. Fight me like a man.”
THE PRESIDENT OFFERS $100,000 ‘FIGHT BONUS’
“As an appreciation of both of these guys coming to the table in agreement, and appreciation of the fans coming in there,” Top Rank Inc. President, Todd duBoef, announced the offering of a “winner take all” financial “fight bonus” before the members of the press from the podium.
“We’re also going to throw in a hundred thousand out of our pocket for a bunus to the winner. This is what fights are made for. This is a fight bonus to the winner. This is a fight bonus to get back to what it means to be a prize fighter. You fans want it, let’s see how hungry they are to want it. This will get us back to the principles of boxing. A hundred thousand more, winner take all,” said duBoef.
“This is not dancing with the stars, this is not performing at Carnegie Hall, or going out there in some Hollywood bowl and selling your top 10 songs. This is performing. You show up, you win, you make money, you make a name for yourself. I wanted to make sure that all of you know that. That is what’s on the table right now. We are going forward with the fight on April 14 and I’m going to let you guys now speak to the most exciting lightweight or fighter and charismatic guy in the world of boxing.”
With that, Rios stepped up to the podium.
“Sorry it’s just myself up here today. A man comes today. A one hundred thousand dollar bet, that’s pretty cool. I’ll take that right now. I’m ready. I went to Miami. I did my job. I showed up. Gamboa was nowhere to be found. It’s like ‘where’s Waldo?’ Nobody knew where he was at. I come today, I’m here in LA, Gamboa’s nowhere to be found,” said Rios.
“That just shows you that he’s imtimidated of me, and he’s scared, or I don’t know what. I’m ready for the fight. Gamboa, he’s probably tryign to play mind games. I don’t know if he thinks that’s going to affect my memory or my mind or whatever. But that’s not going to get to me. It’s just going to make me better and strongeer. I’m just ready for April 14. The fight’s still on I guess. I’m ready with him or without him.”
Although duBoef indicated that Top Rank was going on with the show, it was unclear whether or not he meant with or without Gamboa.
GAMBOA, GARY, RESPOND
Although Gamboa took umbrage with Rios’ comments, he refused to return fire — at least for now.
“I’m a man,” said Gamboa. “I don’t talk about other men when they’re not there.”
Gary said Gamboa wants to fight Rios, but if not Rios, then someone else.
“He’s going to fight, and he can’t wait to get back to fighting, he just has to make sure that he’s fighting under the right circumstances,” said Gary, referring to the unspecified conditions laid out in Gamboa’s promotional contracts with Oner and Top Rank.
“So, this is a catch-22, because he knows that the public wants to see him in the ring, but it’s in his best interest to get his business affairs in proper order before taking on any more fights of any nature whether it’s Brandon Rios or anyone.”
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org