By Jake Donovan
Ring activity and marketability have been hard to come by in recent years for Yuriorkis Gamboa, but one thing the unbeaten former featherweight champ doesn’t lack is confidence.
Few fighters in the sport would be as willing to step up in class following a year-long layoff, and against an opponent who differs in every way to the one he was expected to fight. Yet Gamboa doesn’t have a care in the world heading into his June 28 showdown with unbeaten lightweight titlist Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford, marching into his opponent’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska for their HBO headliner.
I've stayed focused and stayed active. Maybe not in the ring, but I've stayed ready in the gym and am ready for this fight,” Gamboa (23-0, 16KOs) assured the media during a recent conference call to promote the event.
Crawford (23-0, 16KO) makes the first defense of the lightweight title he acquired on the road, defeating Ricky Burns this past March in front of a partisan crowd in Glasgow, Scotland. Saturday’s defense serves as his homecoming, fighting in Omaha for the first time in his pro career and just his second fight in his home state of Nebraska.
Suffice to say, a lot of pre-fight momentum and attention will be dedicated to the defending champion. It’s just yet another obstacle for Gamboa to overcome in just his second fight at lightweight. His lone appearance at the weight came in his last fight, outpointing Darleys Perez last June on HBO.
The fight appeared one-and-done at the time, as much of his downtime was spent angling for a possible drop in weight and in pursuit of another unbeaten titlist.
“As everyone knows, the conversations between my team and Top Rank were to fight (130 lb. titlist Mikey) Garcia,” Gamboa points out. “Obviously that couldn't happen. At that time, Top Rank suggested this fight. We considered it to be just as good of an option.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox