LOS ANGELES – For the second day in a row, Yuriorkis Gamboa was a no-show at a press conference to announce his anticipated April 14 showdown with Brandon Rios, but the fight is still on as far as the promoter is concerned
On Monday, Gamboa, THE RING’s No. 1-rated featherweight, failed to show up at a media gathering in Miami. On Tuesday, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist skipped out on a presser at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.
The night before the L.A. press conference, Gamboa told RingTV.com that he is unsatisfied with the terms of the deal for the HBO-televised fight, which is to take place at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, and will not fight Rios until the issues are settled.
The Cuban dynamo maintains that he hasn’t signed a contract to fight Rios, THE RING’s No. 1-rated lightweight. Todd duBoef, President of Top Rank, which promotes Rios and co-promotes Gamboa with Arena-Box Promotions, told the assembled L.A. media that Gamboa had “agreed to the economic principle” of the match on Feb. 16.
It’s common in professional boxing for the official contracts of a bout to remain unsigned until long after the matchup has been announced, sometimes until the week of the fight. However, the fighters customarily sign a bout agreement that details basic terms of the deal – including how much they are to be paid.
“This is a fight that was brought up by Gamboa and Gamboa’s co-promoter, Ahmet Oner, last year,” duBoef said. “Before his last fight in September, Oner told me that Yuriorkis Gamboa wanted to fight Manny Pacquiao – but first, he wanted Brandon Rios. He wanted to win the lightweight title. I never thought of that, but it was a fascinating matchup.
“I said let’s talk after his fight in September, and we did. Then we talked after Brandon’s last fight in December. We talked to Brandon and his manager, Cameron Dunkin, and in late January or early February, Rios agreed to do the fight.
“On Feb. 16, Top Rank, Arena-Box and Gamboa all had an agreement for the fight. Once we had that agreement, we set dates for the press conferences and we activated our partners. I’m just a promoter, I can’t do it alone. We need HBO, the Mandalay Bay, and our sponsors, Tecate and AT&T.”
Because of these partnerships, duBoef would not speculate on replacement fighters for Gamboa in the event that their issues – which haven’t been divulged by either side, but most speculate is over money – are not ironed out.
“There is no ‘Plan B,’” duBoef said. “I’ve got commitments to HBO, the Mandalay Bay and to our sponsors. They want Rios-Gamboa. I’m bound to the fans. They want Rios-Gamboa. The ticket demand for this fight is unbelievable. We originally configured the arena for 6,500 seats but the demand is so great it’s looking like the full Event Center will be needed.
“Rios-Gamboa is the fight fans want to see. That’s what we want to deliver and that’s still the plan.”
Top Rank sweetened the deal with a $100,000 bonus to go to the winner of the bout, and duBoef said he is willing to try and work things out with Gamboa, but he also stated that the fighter would have to take steps to make things right.
“I’m not chasing anybody,” he said. “There is no narcissistic individual boxer who controls this sport. I’m not chasing after some prima donna and the fans are not going to chase after a diva.
“I had direct correspondence with Gamboa, who agreed to terms and had made plans to travel from Las Vegas, where he is training, to Miami. He didn’t show up. Rios did. Gamboa didn’t show up today. Rios did.
“We’re still going to do a show at the Mandalay Bay on April 14 and I guarantee that man will be in the ring.”
“That man,” of course, is Rios. The unbeaten lightweight slugger, who lost his WBA title on the scales when he failed to make weight against John Murray in December, is not happy with Gamboa’s change of heart.
“He’s the one who called me out,” said Rios, whose old WBA belt is supposed to be on the line against Gamboa. “If you mention my name, come on, you should show up to the press conferences and you should fight me.
“This is the best fight in boxing right now. If Mayweather-Pacquiao ain’t happening, Rios vs. Gamboa is the fight that fans want to see. I don’t know what Gamboa’s thinking. Maybe he’s trying to play mind games or something. He should know that won’t work with me. This crap just makes me train harder.
“And if he’s so good, he should prove it and try to win that $100,000 bonus. That’s a good offer. I’m ready for an extra $100,000 in my pocket.”
Rios isn’t ready to give up on the idea of fighting Gamboa.
“I’ll be training for Gamboa when I get back to the gym tomorrow,” he said. “If it’s not him then we’ll find out soon enough and I’ll get ready for that opponent. All I know is that I’m still fighting on April 14 and I’m fighting at 135 pounds because I want my title back.
“I don’t like being a former champ, but thankfully, because of my big mouth there are a lot of lightweights, some who have titles, that want to fight me. Maybe one of them will step up and fill in for Gamboa.
“Hopefully it’s Gamboa, but whoever it is on April 14, I’ll be there and it will be a good fight.”