By Keith Idec
He wants to fight Vasyl Lomachenko.
That’s one of the first things Yuriorkis Gamboa told Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez when he signed a multi-fight agreement with the company in January. It’s a goal Gomez and De La Hoya hope to help Gamboa meet later this year.
Fighting Lomachenko also seems more than realistic when you consider Lomachenko has had such difficulty getting top 130-pound opponents to fight him. First, however, the 35-year-old Gamboa must look impressive Saturday night in his first fight in more than 14 months.
Gamboa (25-1, 17 KOs), a former title-holder in three divisions, is scheduled to box Nicaragua’s Rene Alvarado (24-7, 16 KOs) in a 10-round fight that’ll open HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York (11 p.m. ET).
“We’re excited,” Gomez said. “We’re bringing him back. He hasn’t fought in a while. He was kind of inactive for the last four or five years. I’m hoping this kick-starts something new, this relationship with us, with Golden Boy.
“We wanna keep him busy. We wanna get him back at an elite level, because he is that type of fighter. He’s got the tools to be an elite fighter. He’s got special skills – speed, power, and he can compete with anybody at 130. One of the fights I would love to make is him and Lomachenko. Lomachenko has been saying that nobody wants to fight him. Gamboa will fight him. No problem. Give us a call, Bob [Arum].”
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs), the WBO world super featherweight champion, is generally regarded as one of the top five boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport. The highly skilled southpaw is set to make an optional defense of his title against Jason Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KOs) on April 8 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland (HBO).
Gamboa and Gomez will be watching that fight closely. Lomachenko has said he might move up to lightweight if the fights he seeks at 130 pounds don’t materialize.
Regardless, Gamboa wants big fights. Promotional issues have limited his progress in recent years and Gamboa realizes he needs to become much more active.
The 2004 Olympic gold medalist from Cuba has fought just twice in the nearly three years since he suffered his lone loss as a professional – a ninth-round technical knockout against Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) in Omaha, Nebraska.
“It’s up to him,” Gomez said. “The sky’s the limit. The guy’s got the skills. He’s a veteran now, a gold medalist. And for whatever reasons – I don’t wanna go into the past, but his career was pretty much squandered, the prime of his career.
“So I’m happy that he’s back in boxing and he’s with us now. And we’re hoping that this Saturday kick-starts something special, because he’s willing to fight all the top guys at 130, 135. We’ll fight anybody. But it’s up to him. If he puts the discipline into it, we’re gonna get him the dates. We’ll get him the opportunities, but it’s up to him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.