It’s been a frustrating couple of years for Yuriorkis Gamboa. The uber-talented Cuban ex-patriot was a force of nature early in his pro career, collecting two versions of the featherweight title while thrilling fans with his all-out offensive style.
However, since beating Daniel Ponce De Leon over two and a half years ago, Gamboa has been inactive, fighting only once in 2012 and only once last year.
This Saturday, Gamboa (23-0, 16 knockouts) wants to make up for lost ring time when he challenges undefeated lightweight standout Terence Crawford in the WBO titleholder’s hometown of Omaha, Neb.
The 32-year-old 2004 Olympic gold medalist doesn’t see any weaknesses in Craword.
“His pros are his height advantage, which is obvious to the eye, and his recent activity going into this fight,” Gamboa told RingTV.com through his adviser Tony Gonzalez. “The only fault I can find is him not having fought an opponent like me.”
Though Gamboa conceded his recent time away from boxing wasn’t ideal.
“Obviously, inactivity isn’t good and, if asked, I would have preferred to fight,” he said.
“My mental preparation for this fight is to get past that. I maintained my conditioning by staying in the gym.”
Crawford-Gamboa headlines a Top Rank promotion and will be featured on an HBO Boxing After Dark telecast will include an interesting middleweight clash between former Russian amateur standout Matt Korobov and Venezuelan puncher Jose Uzcategui. The action stars at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Yuriorkis Gamboa – I wanted the opportunity for a world title against a name opponent. This is something I’ve looked forward to for a long time but nobody stepped up. I’m counting my blessings for this opportunity.
AW – What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses?
YG – His pros are his height advantage, which is obvious to the eye, and his recent activity going into this fight. The only fault I can find is him not having fought an opponent like me. Nothing else.
AW – The fight takes place in his hometown of Omaha. Any thoughts on fighting there?
YG – It was the promoter’s decision to have the fight in Omaha where he lives. He’s defending his belt and I’m okay with it. I have no problems fighting there
AW – By fight time it will have been over a year since you last fought. How come you've been inactive for so long? How have you been able to shed the ring rust?
YG – Obviously, inactivity isn’t good and, if asked, I would have preferred to fight. My mental preparation for this fight is to get past that. I maintained my conditioning by staying in the gym.
AW – Tell us about your camp for this fight?
YG – I was based in Deerfield Beach, Fla; my father, Carlos Gamboa trained me. For example, today I worked on my speed, something you need to stay on top of, (and) to stay close to 135 pounds. Sparring has kept my timing down. Those are three essential things to do getting ready for this fight.
AW – You have been very inactive, just two fights in over two and a half years. I'm sure this has been frustrating for you also. Can you tell us your side of events?
YG – As an athlete this is something you don’t want, but I’ve played the hand I’ve been dealt and will make the most if it. It’s something I’ve had to work past so it’s not a problem come the fight.
AW – You turned professional at 126 pounds, you won two-world titles there. [Editor’s note: Gamboa also fought at junior lightweight early in his career.] However now you're fighting at 135. Why have you jumped to lightweight?
YG – This isn’t my first fight at 135. I was the interim (WBA) super featherweight champion and tried to make a unification fight with (Takashi) Uchiyama. [Editor’s note: Gamboa won the WBA’s interim 130-pound belt be outpointing Michael Farenas in his sole bout of 2012.] It didn’t happen so I decided to go back up to 135 to see if I could entice one of the world champions to fight me.
AW – When you look at the lightweight division, what do you think of the current champion and top contenders?
YG – There are some good fighters and I throw my hat into the ring with the best at 135 to fight them.
AW – What goals do you still have in boxing?
YG – To fight on Pay-Per-View has always been one of my major goals. I want to fight the best and beat the best.
AW – In closing, what would you say to Crawford ahead of your fight?
YG – I have no message for him. I just have to show him what I have in the ring.