By Elisinio Castillo
This past Saturday night at the Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City, former world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa secured a ten round majority decision over the always dangerous Jason Sosa.
It was the first bout for Gamboa (28-2, 17 KOs) since his TKO defeat at the hands of Robinson Castillanos earlier this year. Gamboa accepted this fight on three week's notice after Castellanos withdrew with injury.
It was also Gamboa's first fight with high profile amateur trainer Pedro Roque.
Not everyone was happy with the outcome. There were many at ringside who felt Sosa had done more than enough to win a decision - especially after Gamboa was penalized a point for holding and also knocked down in an earlier round.
But Roque was very pleased with what he saw and says the Olympic gold medal winner - with a full training camp - will be much better next time.
"There are others who must negotiate the fights and they will know how to do it," said Roque to George Ebro. "My part is to train Yuriorkis and take him to an optimum point. I believe that important things can be achieved with enough time. What they saw on Saturday was just a starting point for something really superior.
"Gamboa paid a lot of attention to my words and followed the directives of the training camp. Only once did he break away from the fight plan and that's when the knockdown came. For the rest [of the fight] I am very happy with him.
Since leaving Cuba in 2009, Roque has held several important positions, first as the head of the national amateur team of the United States and then of Azerbaijan, a country with which he attended the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
After that experience, Roque decided to settle in Miami and opened his own gym, where he trains several boxers such as Yampier Hernández, Jorge Romero and Yuniesky González, among others.
But his career as a professional coach received a tremendous boost when he was called to Gamboa's corner to help the Athens 2004 Olympic champion.
"This is my most important moment and I feel it is the beginning of very good things that are going to come," the trainer said. "Gamboa is not finished at all. What they saw of him on Saturday is just the surface of what we are going to achieve together. With any opponent that they put in front of us, if they give us enough time, we will go for the victory."