by Tim Harrison
Cuban sensation and WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KO) easily dispatched of challenger Jorge Solis on Saturday March 26. Gamboa showed the ability to put his foot on the gas at any moment of his choosing, as he thoroughly outclassed a former title contender with ease.
Following his four-round TKO victory, Puerto Rican star Juan Manuel Lopez (30-0, 27 KO), the WBO featherweight champion, joined him in the ring. The two made clear their intentions to square off in the ring, eventually settling in to pose for several photographs.
The two rising stars make up the pieces of yet another proposed Super Fight that has yet to materialize, leaving boxing fans high and dry. Since the inception of said proposed meeting, sometime in the summer of 2009, Gamboa has fought a total of 5 times, once against former Lopez foe Rogers Mtagwa, while Lopez has fought 4 times. Lopez’s fifth outing will be on April 16 against former Gamboa opponent, Orlando Salido.
Summer 2011 was set aside as the tentative date for a possible unification bout between Top Rank’s bright young stars. As the summer of 2011 rapidly approaches, it looks less likely that Lopez and Gamboa will share the ring any time soon, save for Lopez’s post-fight interview on the night of April 16.
In an interview this week with The Boxing Truth Radio, Top Rank front man Bob Arum made it clear that money, or lack thereof, is keeping him from making the fight.
Arum insisted he wants one of the premium cable networks, HBO or Showtime, to match the $3 million paid for January’s jr. welterweight unification bout between WBO and WBC titlists Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander.
Absent a $3 million offer from HBO or Showtime, Arum explained a potential fight will be forced to move to pay-per-view – when both fighters are bona-fide pay-per-view attractions.
Arum left himself an out when he explained the difficulty in promoting Gamboa due to his ethnicity, meaning he will likely continue to pit Lopez and Gamboa against the usual lineup of Top Rank-promoted B-side contenders until further notice.
While Arum’s explanation of the difficulty in promoting Gamboa may hold some weight, Juan Manuel Lopez, the man who stands ready to take the torch from Miguel Cotto, will bring a large Puerto Rican following with him. The desire to let the demand for the fight build is understandable, however.
It is necessary to build up public interest in boxing’s biggest potential matchups. The buildup helps draw in casual fans and curious passers-by. In this case, the old saying, “You have to strike while the iron is hot”, comes to mind. The featherweight division doesn’t project the same shine as does the welterweight division, for example. Boxing fans can forget…the iron can cool if left out too long.
Should Lopez dispatch of Orlando Salido with relative ease, he will have several options for his next fight. A rematch with Rafael Marquez is a possibility, while Daniel Ponce De Leon holds an outside shot at getting his long-awaited rematch. Top Rank stable mate Miguel Garcia may also get a look at some point.
Gamboa can look ahead to a WBA unification match with long-time champion Chris John. The aforementioned Miguel Garcia, along with Bernabe Concepcion present other options for the talented Cuban.
Juan Manuel Lopez versus Yuriorkis Gamboa, like Diego Corrales versus Jose Luis Castillo before it, has “Fight of the Year” written all over it. Corrales and Castillo jumped into the ring without the song and dance, producing an instant classic and public demand for an immediate rematch.
The time for Lopez-Gamboa has arrived. The few brief moments the two Latin stars shared in the ring stoked the interest of boxing fans of all makes. Interim tune ups will do little to further the careers of Lopez or Gamboa. Every burgeoning young star needs a career-defining fight – for Lopez, that fight is Gamboa, and vice versa.