By Keith Idec
Promoter Bob Arum hasn’t given up hope of eventually matching powerful featherweights Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez against each other.
Arum aimed at building Gamboa-Lopez into a huge featherweight unification fight before Orlando Salido upset Lopez by eighth-round technical knockout April 16 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Lopez’s lone loss definitely delayed a fight against Gamboa, but Arum said that if Lopez overcomes Salido in their rematch and the Cuban sensation continues to win that his company, Top Rank Inc., would make a Gamboa-Lopez fight sometime in 2012.
“The big fights for Gamboa down the road are the winner of Juan Manuel Lopez and Salido,” said Arum, who was on the call to promote Gamboa’s fight against Daniel Ponce De Leon (41-3, 34 KOs) on Sept. 10 in Atlantic City. “I hope to make that fight [the Salido-Lopez rematch] early next year. And then, probably the biggest fight in the featherweight division [for Gamboa] will be with the up-and-coming bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, who will be moving up to featherweight next year. That should be a big, big match.”
That would discount, of course, the possibility of Lopez beating both Salido (36-11-2, 24 KOs, 1 NC) and Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs). But Arum’s point was that he hasn’t forgotten about Gamboa-Lopez, which was one of the most highly anticipated fights in boxing before Salido stopped Lopez four months ago.
Puerto Rico’s Lopez (30-1, 27 KOs) will return to the ring Oct. 1 in Bayamon, against American Mike Oliver (25-2, 8 KOs, 1 NC).
Mexico’s Salido also has expressed interest in taking another bout before boxing Lopez again early in 2012. He has already defended the WBO featherweight title he won from Lopez, thanks to an 11th-round TKO of Japan’s Kenichi Yamaguchi (17-2-2, 4 KOs, 1 NC) on July 23 in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.