By Jake Donovan
The past was quickly forgotten the moment Yuriorkis Gamboa and Bob Arum took the stage for Thursday’s undercard press conference. The event was staged to lend some shine to the supporting cast for this weekend’s headliner between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, which takes place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Gamboa appears in supporting capacity, facing Michael Farenas in a super featherweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The fight marks the Cuban’s first slice of ring action since Sept. ’11, when he won a technical decision over Daniel Ponce de Leon in front of a sparse crowd in Atlantic City.
The next step was to serve as the centerpiece of HBO’s spring schedule, with Gamboa agreeing to move up two weight classes to face unbeaten lightweight Brandon Rios. Separate press conferences were staged in Miami and Los Angeles, only for Gamboa to pull a no-show at both events and ultimately pulling out of the fight altogether.
Months of litigation and media speculation finally came to a halt when it was announced that Gamboa was granted his release from Top Rank in exchange for a cash settlement.
Fast forward to December, where Gamboa finds himself right back where he started – fighting on a show promoted by Top Rank. Only on this particular card, the unbeaten former champ serves as the star attraction for debuting promotional outfit SMS Promotions, run by Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson.
Gamboa and Jackson have been parading around town for much of Fight Week, including a ringside sighting at The Mirage during a special edition of televised boxing on ESPN2 Thursday evening.
On Saturday night, both make their 2012 campaign official. Gamboa fights on the HBO PPV undercard, while Jackson finally has his name attached to an event after months of threatening to take over the industry.
Despite their boastful claims over the past few months, both were humble when stepping on stage during Thursday’s press conference. Gamboa in particular was conscious of his surroundings and appreciative of the fact that those he previously wronged are willing to grant him a second chance.
“I’d like to thank 50 Cent and SMS, as well as Bob Arum and Top Rank for this opportunity. I also thank HBO for opening the doors to me once again,” Gamboa humbly stated during his time behind the microphone.
A sense of relief was present in his body language, following the longest inactive stretch of his five-year career which is still very much in its prime.
“I’m very satisfied that I’m able to respond to my fans via Facebook and Twitter asking when my next fight is. It is here now and I can’t wait until December 8,” admitted Gamboa (21-0, 16KO).
A win puts the Cuban wunderkind right back in the title mix. An interim trinket is at stake, with the winner becoming the mandatory challenger to top 130 lb. titlist Takashi Uchiyama, whom Farenas (34-3-2, 26KO) fought to an aborted technical draw when a clash of heads ended their fight inside of three rounds this past July.
However Gamboa fares, he will at least be remembered for his ring entrance.
“You are going to see when Yuriorkis Gamboa enters the ring on Saturday night an entrance like you’ve never seen before,” insists Bob Arum. “It’s going to blow the socks off everyone and that’s something you’re going to see a lot more of in the future.”
Hopefully the fight itself will mean seeing a lot more of Gamboa in the future as well.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox