By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Russell Peltz couldn’t help but think of the late Teddy Brenner on Wednesday.
Peltz always reflects fondly on the legendary Brenner when he returns to Madison Square Garden, the building where the masterful matchmaker put on so many terrific fights during his Hall-of-Fame career. Peltz considers Jason Sosa-Yuriorkis Gamboa just the type of bout Brenner would’ve gladly made during his run at The Garden.
In fact, Peltz, who promotes Sosa, thinks their 10-round super featherweight fight will emerge as the best of the three bouts HBO will televise Saturday night from The Theater at Madison Square Garden (10 p.m. ET).
“No one will ever surpass Teddy because Teddy promoted fights,” Peltz said during a press conference Wednesday at The Garden. “He didn’t promote fighters. And he had three criteria for what made a good fight. Number one, do the styles mesh? Gamboa and Sosa, they’re each 5-foot-6, they each try to hurt people. The second criteria – does the fight lead to somewhere? Yes, the winner’s been promised a shot at a world title. And the third criteria, and most important, is would I buy a ticket to see this fight? Absolutely. That’s why I think it’s the most compelling, the most intriguing, the most interesting fight on this card.”
HBO also will air two light heavyweight fights Saturday night.
The 10-round, co-feature will pit Cuba’s Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) against the Dominican Republic’s Felix Valera (15-1, 13 KOs). In the 12-round main event, Russia’s Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) will try to win back the unclaimed WBO light heavyweight title against Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs).
The 29-year-old Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) will fight for the first time since his one-sided, technical-knockout defeat to WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) on April 8 in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The Camden, New Jersey, native was supposed to meet Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs) on Saturday night, but Cuba’s Gamboa (27-2, 17 KOs) replaced Castellanos once he withdrew due to a back injury.
Castellanos upset Gamboa, who declined to continue following the seventh round of their 10-rounder May 5 in Las Vegas. The 35-year-old Gamboa bounced back to beat Mexico’s Alexis Reyes (15-3-1, 7 KOs) by majority decision in their 10-round bout August 12 in Cancun.
“Gamboa cannot afford to lose,” Peltz said. “People say he’s washed up. He’s [27-2]. I don’t know how washed up he can beat at [27-2]. We expect to see the best Yuriorkis Gamboa that there’s been, maybe the one that I ran into here a few years ago, when he knocked out a fighter that I had named Rogers Mtagwa. Jason Sosa’s coming off a defeat to Vasyl Lomachenko. I was in the dressing room with him after that fight, and it was a tearful scene.
“And Peter Nelson from HBO came in and said, ‘I promise you I won’t forget what you did for us this night, when you stepped in, when nobody else wanted to fight Lomachenko at that time for a reasonable amount of money.’ Jason took the challenge, and everybody said it’s the end of his career. Well, here were are, back again. Peter made good on his promise and we’re one fight away from fighting for the world title. And we would love to fight any of the guys that are fighting on the HBO show on December the 9th.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.