By Keith Idec
One of the fights fans most wanted to see in 2010 apparently will happen nine years later.
Yuriorkis Gamboa said Saturday night that he’ll finally fight Juan Manuel Lopez in March or April now that they’ve both won lightweight tune-up fights in Miami. Cuba’s Gamboa was busier and better than Miguel Beltran Jr. throughout their 10-round bout, the main event Saturday night at Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo.
Once Gamboa beat Beltran, Puerto Rico’s Lopez jumped into the ring to challenge Gamboa to a fight promoter Bob Arum infamously “marinated” into irrelevance.
“Enough of waiting,” Lopez yelled at Gamboa. “I did my part and you did your part. Now let’s get it on!”
Gamboa responded, “If that’s what the public wants, we will make it happen. March or April.”
The 35-year-old Lopez (36-6, 32 KOs) and the 36-year-old Gamboa (28-2, 17 KOs) were on a collision course in 2010. Orlando Salido, whom Gamboa beat by unanimous decision in September 2010, ruined their bout by upsetting Lopez by eighth-round technical knockout in April 2011.
Mexico’s Salido also stopped Lopez in the 10th round of their rematch in March 2012.
Gamboa-Lopez would’ve been broadcast by HBO or Showtime had it taken place when both boxers were in their primes. Now it’ll likely headline an independent pay-per-view show, similar to the card that was offered Saturday night for $24.95 in HD.
Before Gamboa nearly shut out Beltran (33-6, 22 KOs, 1 NC) on Saturday night (100-89, 99-90, 98-91), Lopez dropped Argentina’s Cristian Mino four times – twice in the third round, once in the fourth and once in the sixth.
Mino (19-3, 17 KOs) also had a point deducted for holding in the 10th round. He survived to the final bell, however, and lost a unanimous decision.
Lopez bounced back from a 12th-round TKO loss to fellow Puerto Rican Jayson Velez in his last fight, March 3 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Lopez was down by the same score, 108-101, on all three scorecards and bleeding from a cut over his right eye when referee Luis Pabon stopped that fight with barely more than a minute left in it.
Gamboa fought for the first time Saturday night in nearly a year. He hadn’t boxed since he defeated former WBA 130-pound champion Jason Sosa by majority decision in a 10-rounder last November 25 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.