Dan Rafael: Yuriorkis Gamboa

Gamboa moving back down to 130

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
Yuriorkis GamboaChris Farina/Top RankAfter his knockout loss to Terence Crawford, Yuriorkis Gamboa will move down to junior lightweight.
Yuriorkis Gamboa just wasn't big enough to hang with a top lightweight. That means he is headed back to junior lightweight.

That was the decision made by Gamboa, adviser Tony Gonzalez and promoter Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson following Gamboa's ninth-round knockout loss to lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford on Saturday night in Crawford's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Crawford didn't just stop Gamboa, who got off to a strong start and was leading after four rounds. The bigger and longer Crawford scored four knockdowns en route to the harsh knockout victory. It was enough to make Gamboa (23-1, 16 KOs), fighting for only the second time as a lightweight, and his team realize he would be better served in the smaller weight class.

"50 and I spoke about what his immediate future plan would be with him and from the onset the consensus is to go back to 130 pounds," Gonzalez told ESPN.com. "We still feel he can do a good campaign at 135 and he asked about a rematch with Terence because he wants another crack. He is uber competitive and when I got into the ring after the fight he kept saying, 'Why'd they stop the fight? They should have counted to 10.' I told him it was a good stoppage. So, yes, he wants another crack at Crawford and we know he could beat other lightweights, but we talked about going back to 130.

"There was a little resistance but at 130, 126, those were his better days. He has the power advantage. So he agreed but he is not completely discarding coming back to 135 at some point. So that's where we stand."

Gonzalez said Gamboa, a former unified featherweight titleholder, would not drop all the way back to the 126-pound division.

"He feels comfortable at 130 and he came in weighing 146 on the night of the fight with Crawford, so going back to 126, he's not going to do that. I don't think he could do that," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said the aim is to have Gamboa, who came off a year layoff to face Crawford, back in the ring in October or November and said he believes there are some interesting fights at 130, including a title fight with Mikey Garcia or a showdown with fellow former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez.

Gamboa, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist, was supposed to have been facing Garcia rather than Crawford, but Garcia pulled out of the talks when he sued promoter Top Rank to get out of his contract. If they work things out, perhaps Garcia-Gamboa can be made for later this year.

As for Lopez, he has a fight against Francisco Vargas on July 12, so a showdown with Gamboa is not his priority.

In 2010 and 2011, the prospect of Lopez-Gamboa was one of the most anticipated fights in boxing after they appeared on multiple cards together. But Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he wanted to "let it marinate" and refused to make the fight. Then Lopez got knocked out twice by Orlando Salido and the demand for the fight evaporated. Even if the fight is eventually made, it won't be nearly as anticipated as it once was.

Crawford (24-0, 17 KOs), who was making his first title defense, said that he also thought Gamboa would be better off moving down in weight.

"To say he don't have any power, that would be an understatement. But to be more effective with one-punch knockout power he might want to go back down to 130 or 126," Crawford told ESPN.com. "His speed wasn't really a factor. I felt like I was just as fast. I was working on timing and slowing him down to the body."

Crawford-Gamboa ratings a hit

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
Lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford's exciting ninth-round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa in his first defense on Saturday night was a fight of the year candidate. It was also the second-most viewed fight of the year so far on American television, according to Nielsen Media Research, further enhancing Crawford's emerging star status.

Not only did Crawford draw a raucous crowd of 10,943 (and an approximate $500,000 live gate), the fight, Crawford's first pro fight in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska (and the first world title fight there in 42 years), attracted an average audience of 1.208 million viewers to HBO for the live, first-time airing. The fight peaked at 1.286 million viewers.

By comparison, Crawford-Gamboa nearly doubled the audience of the previous week's Showtime main event between Robert Guerrero and Yoshihiro Kamegai, another all-action fight, which averaged 614,000 viewers.

The only fight this year to have had more viewers than Crawford-Gamboa was the super middleweight rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera, which averaged 1.39 million viewers for their HBO fight on March 1 in San Antonio. HBO has televised the top eight most-viewed fights this year. Crawford was fighting on HBO for the third time, but in his first main event.

The less-than-compelling co-feature between middleweights Matt Korobov and Jose Uzcategui, both in their first HBO fights, averaged 929,000 viewers and peaked at 1.066 million.

Also of note, even though there was a free HBO preview this past weekend, those viewers do not count in Nielsen's viewership figures, which means even more people surely saw the fight.
Darleys PerezCarlos Baeza/Thompson BoxingDarleys Perez, left, is confident entering his vacant interim title shot against Argenis Lopez.
Colombian lightweight Darleys Perez was an undefeated fighter, although largely untested, when he stepped up to face Yuriorkis Gamboa for a vacant interim lightweight belt last June.

Perez lost a unanimous decision to the quicker Gamboa, but returned in December to score a near-shutout eight-round decision against journeyman Dunis Linan in December.

Now the 30-year-old Perez (29-1, 19 KOs) finds himself in another fight of note, taking on Argenis Lopez (19-0, 7 KOs), 24, of the Dominican Republic, for the same now-vacant interim lightweight belt on Saturday night at the Sheraton Hotel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

"I've had plenty of time to reflect on my defeat to Gamboa," Perez said. "I've came back with a win against Linan and my confidence is where it needs to be moving forward. Lopez is coming to fight as am I, so I'm expecting to face a fighter who is determined to take food off my table. I'm not going to let it happen. I've worked too hard get back in this position and Lopez better be ready to die in the ring because I am.

"I've only fought once in the last 12 months but I've been training hard while I was on down time. I'm healthy, in great shape, and I'm ready to go the distance if need be. I'm going to Lopez's hometown so I'll be gunning for the knockout as I don't want to leave any doubt in the judges' minds."

The winner will be in position to challenge Richar Abril for the full title, although he has not fought since March 2013, in part because fights have been canceled.

Gary Shaw, Perez's promoter, said he would try to set up an Abril-Perez fight if Perez wins on Saturday.

"If he comes out victorious, which I believe he will, then I'll be working to get him a title shot against the champion, Richar Abril," Shaw said. "Right now he must focus on Lopez and bring home the victory."

DiBella: Macklin is wrong

May, 23, 2014
May 23
Understandably, middleweight contender Matthew Macklin is disappointed. That is because he was supposed to fight former titleholder Daniel Geale on Saturday in Corpus Christi, Texas on HBO.

The fight was scheduled to be the co-feature on the card headlined by the heavyweight elimination bout between Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings, but when Perez suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago the card was canceled. Poof, there went Macklin’s fight and low six-figure payday.

But not long after that, HBO was interested to have him face Matt Korobov on June 28 on the Terence Crawford-Yuriorkis Gamboa undercard. While Macklin would make a little less money for the fight, he would at least not have let his training go to waste, would still be on HBO and also in a winnable fight.

But Macklin did not respond in a timely enough fashion about whether he would accept the fight, so HBO and Top Rank moved on and Korobov will face Jose Uzcategui instead.

Now Macklin, upset with promoter Lou DiBella over the situation, has declared himself a free agent even though DiBella said he has one more fight with him, and certainly Macklin believed that also given that he had accepted the Geale offer from DiBella.

Macklin has said that the Perez injury was fishy, believing that the card was called off as a way to get Geale a July shot at the K2-promoted Gennady Golovkin because right after the card was canceled Golovkin-Geale was being negotiated. Perez is also with K2.

“I think something’s fishy there myself, but HBO did come back and offer Matthew a Korobov fight,” DiBella said. “He was offered the fight in writing. He never got back to me. The next day HBO called me and they needed to know if we will accept the fight or not. Matthew said he needed a day to decide and, besides, it was his birthday and he didn’t want to think about boxing. I got Top Rank and HBO to wait one more day. And as of the middle of the next day his adviser (Anthony Catanzaro) said he couldn’t reach him. The following day still no response and Anthony sent me a text message saying he hadn’t heard from Matt and to tell them if they have to move on they should move on.”

DiBella said Macklin is not a free agent and is upset that Macklin is seemingly blaming DiBella for what happened.

“It’s totally disrespectful. I also had a fighter retire on me by text message,” DiBella said of Yuri Foreman, who announced his retirement two weeks before he was to fight June 7 on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto HBO PPV undercard. “The job I’ve done with Macklin after not getting the decision against Felix Sturm, he should be thrilled.”

After that robbery, DiBella got Macklin a shot at middleweight champ Martinez (Macklin was knocked out), got him on the Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. HBO PPV card and then a shot at Golovkin (Macklin was knocked out). And then Macklin found himself back on HBO against the unknown Lamar Russ because DiBella negotiated a comeback fight in the Golovkin contract.

“I got him on HBO against Lamar Russ after he knocked out early (third round) by Golovkin. I did my job,” DiBella said. “Matthew has turned down fights and also been injured. How can he argue I don’t have a fight left? It was his choice not to fight Korobov, but he can’t say he doesn’t have a fight left.

“I have fought for this kid non-stop. I questioned with what happened with Geale. It’s not fair but there’s nothing I can do about it so he shouldn’t blame me and he’s the one who turned down Korobov. Matthew is sick of the politics of boxing but so am I, and part of it’s the fighters who take advantage of the people who work hard for them and don’t honor their contracts. I literally feel hurt. I respected him and considered him a friend, so I am hurt and upset. He is wrong.”
A proposed fight between lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran and former unified titleholder Juan Diaz has been scrapped, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com.

The bout was supposed to serve as the opener of the HBO-televised fight between lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford (23-0, 16 KOs) and former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KOs) on June 28 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., Crawford’s hometown.

In addition to being a probable action fight, the winner of the fight would have put himself in prime position to challenge the winner of the main event.

However, Moretti said that Beltran dropped out of the fight, saying he would not be ready in time. One of the reasons, perhaps, is because Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs) recently parted ways with manager Steve Fedor and is now working with attorney David Garcia, Moretti said.

Moretti said that Diaz (39-4, 19 KOs) likely would remain on the card in an untelevised bout.

Top Rank and HBO are talking about various fights to take the place of Beltran-Diaz as the co-feature.

Must-win for Lopez, Ponce De Leon

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
Juan Manuel Lopez-Daniel Ponce de LeonJoel Colon/PR Best Boxing PromotionsJuan Manuel Lopez, left, and Daniel Ponce de Leon need a win to revamp their careers.

In June 2008, Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez got his first title opportunity against then-junior featherweight beltholder Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico and turned in an explosive performance.

Lopez drilled Ponce De Leon in the first round in Atlantic City, N.J., to win the title and start a run of nine consecutive victories in world title fights -- winning eight by knockout -- as he claimed world titles at 122 and 126 pounds and shot up the pound-for-pound rankings.

Lopez, 30, however, has not been the same since getting stopped twice by Orlando Salido in their two featherweight title fights in 2011 and 2012. In his last fight, in June, Lopez was crushed in four rounds by Mikey Garcia trying to win a junior lightweight belt.

Ponce De Leon also suffered other defeats since facing Lopez, losing twice by decision in 2011 to Adrien Broner and Yuriorkis Gamboa, although he also beat Jhonny Gonzalez to win a featherweight belt in 2012 before being stopped in the ninth round of his first defense by Abner Mares last May. Ponce De Leon rebounded for a decision win against Joksan Hernandez in November and now, like Lopez, faces the crossroads.

Their careers as contenders are at stake when Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs) and Ponce De Leon (45-5, 35 KOs), both southpaws, meet in a 10-round junior lightweight rematch on Saturday night (Showtime Extreme, 7 p.m. ET/PT) at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, on the undercard of the Showtime card topped by junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia’s defense against Mauricio Herrera.

"This is the biggest fight of my career," Lopez said. “We both need to win this fight. This is the last lap of my career. If I lose, that could be the end of my career, even though I don't want my career to end in defeat. I win this fight, I can go on to bigger and better things.”

Said Ponce De Leon, “It's been five years [since our last fight], and I know that Juanma is going to come in strong. He's a great fighter, but I'm coming in fully prepared for this fight."

Lopez looked particularly bad against Garcia -- so bad that career-long promoter Top Rank released him, believing if he continued to fight he would be seriously hurt.

"This is going to be a great fight. He's going to try to get a knockout, I'm going to do my job as well, and definitely the one that is better prepared will come out victorious, and that will be me. I came here to show Puerto Rico and the rest of the world that Juanma Lopez has still some game to show.

“It was not mere coincidence that I won the first fight against Ponce De Leon. I won because I'm a better fighter. On Saturday, Ponce better be ready, because I'm ready and I'm not about losing."

Ponce De Leon said he has put the debacle of the first fight well in his rearview mirror and is aiming for a different outcome this time around.

"I was too overconfident heading into the fight, and he caught me cold in the first round,” Ponce De Leon, 33, said. “But that fight is in the past. I had a different team, manager and trainer, then later on I made some changes. I was different then. I never thought in the ring. Before, I used to always jump on top of my opponents, but now I have transformed into a different fighter. For this fight, I feel good and am 100 percent ready.

"I see Lopez the same way everyone else sees him. He hasn't been the same. He has gone down and is a different fighter. I asked for the rematch a long time ago, and this is the perfect time to be fighting him. Now I look forward to going into the fight in top shape, very well prepared. I want to win this fight. I have everything stacked against me fighting him in Puerto Rico. I don't want to leave it in the hands of the judges. The knockout is important -- it's a must."

M. Garcia-Gamboa in the works

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
Yuriorkis GamboaAl Bello/Getty ImagesYuriorkis Gamboa and a move up to lightweight could be next for 130-pound titlist Mikey Garcia.

The process of Mikey Garcia moving up in weight appears to be under way.

Plans are in the works for Garcia, who easily outpointed Juan Carlos Burgos in a snoozefest last Saturday night to retain his junior lightweight title, to head up to lightweight for a probable showdown with Yuriorkis Gamboa, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN.com.

Arum said he is working on getting the fight made with Gamboa promoter Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and HBO. Arum said the date of the fight would be May 17 at the newly renovated Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

"We're working on it," Arum said. "HBO wants that fight. We like that fight, and you know Gamboa wants that fight. So does Mikey."

Gamboa (23-0, 16 KOs), who holds an interim lightweight belt, and Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs), also a former featherweight titlist, have been going back and forth about fighting each other on social media since even before Garcia beat Burgos. With no other seriously attractive options for either man at 130 or 135 pounds, a fight between them makes sense.

While Garcia has been active -- he has fought four times in the past 13 months -- Gamboa, a former unified featherweight titlist, fought only once in 2012 and once in 2013. During that time, he also was implicated in the Biogenesis steroids scandal and was arrested twice for domestic violence incidents.

Arum said if he can get Gamboa-Garcia made, he would like to include heavyweight prospect Andy Ruiz (21-0, 15 KOs) on the undercard.

The Garcia-Burgos telecast, by the way, didn't attract a huge audience by HBO standards, but it dwarfed that of the competing Showtime card.

The entire HBO telecast drew an average of 777,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Garcia-Burgos main event drew 829,000 viewers while the heavyweight undercard featuring Bryant Jennings' 10th-round knockout of Artur Szpilka drew 811,000 viewers.

The HBO telecast nearly doubled the Showtime telecast, which drew an average 390,000 viewers. Surprisingly, the opening bout on the Showtime card, junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo's decision against Gabriel Rosado, drew 472,000 viewers and beat the main event. Junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson's action-packed decision win against Dierry Jean drew just 402,000 viewers. A portion of the main events of the two cards went head-to-head.

GBP announces changes; more fights

June, 13, 2013
A little of this and a little of that from the world of boxing:

• There’s been a big shake-up behind the scenes at Golden Boy as chief executive Richard Schaefer recently announced a major restructuring of the staff of the world’s No. 1 promotional company.

Chief operating officer David Itskowitch is leaving the company after six years, effective July 31, which set off a slew of changes. Bruce Binkow, the chief marketing officer, will also now be the COO, and longtime vice president of operations Armando Gaytan will also assume the newly created position of deputy COO and has been promoted to senior VP of operations. Chief of staff Robert Gasparri will take on the role of VP of operations. Schaefer also announced that attorney Arnold Joseph, who has done work for the company for years, is joining the staff full-time as general counsel. Longtime director of communications and events Monica Sears was promoted to VP of operations and digital marketing coordinator Nicole “The Spark” Sparks is moving up to director of marketing. Marylyn Aceves is returning to the company as VP of public relations.

“Given his contributions to Golden Boy Promotions over the past six years, David Itskowitch's departure from the company is significant and he will be missed, but with the restructuring we have implemented we will have a smooth transition that will ensure the continued success of Golden Boy Promotions,” Schaefer said.

• Golden Boy announced the full undercard for its June 22 Showtime tripleheader at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition to the TV fights -- welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi defending against lightweight titleholder Adrien Broner, the heavyweight rematch between Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell and Sakio Bika-Marco Antonio Periban for a vacant super middleweight belt -- junior middleweight prospect Julian Williams (12-0-1, 7 KOs) will face chin-challenged former titleholder Joachim Alcine (33-4-1, 19 KOs) in the most notable other bout. Three of the other bouts will involve members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team: Staten Island light heavyweight Marcus Browne (4-0, 4 KOs), who always has a fan section cheering for him at Barclays, bantamweight Rau'Shee Warren (4-0, 2 KOs) and lightweight Jamel Herring (3-0, 2 KOs).

• Promoters Lou DiBella and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson announced that they have acquired the rights to “Tapia,” a documentary on the late former five-time world champion Johnny Tapia, who died in May 2012 at age 45. The world premiere of the documentary will take place at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday. The film, directed by Eddie Alcazar, chronicles Tapia’s tumultuous personal and professional life using first-person narration from Tapia himself, archival footage and personal photos. Alcazar spent many hours with Tapia filming, including in the weeks before Tapia’s death. Those last interviews are included in the film, as are interviews with Mike Tyson, trainer Freddie Roach (who trained Tapia at one point during his career) and Teresa Tapia, Johnny’s widow.

“I was drawn to the intensity of this project,” Jackson said. “His story resonated with me because like Tapia, I too lost my mother to violence and grew up with limited means. It’s a heartfelt story and it was important for me to get involved with bringing this to a broader audience.”

Said DiBella, who, when he programmed boxing at HBO, put Tapia on the network, “This is not a boxing film, but a film about tragedy, triumph, demons and redemption. Johnny gives us an honest assessment of his strengths and frailties; he reminds us of the power and resiliency of the human spirit.”

• European light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer (40-2, 31 KOs), a former world titleholder, will make his second defense against Italy’s Stefano Abatangelo (17-2-1, 6 KOs) on Aug. 24 in Schwerin, Germany, Sauerland Event announced. Abatangelo is 11-0-1 in his past 12 fights. Braehmer is the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Nathan Cleverly, who he could meet later this year. Also on the card is supposed to be the return of former middleweight and super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (36-4, 28 KOs) against Willbeforce Shihepo (20-6, 15 KOs). In his last fight, Abraham was destroyed in four rounds and lost his super middleweight belt to Robert Stieglitz in their March 23 rematch.

• Some interesting stats from last Saturday’s head-to-head clash between the HBO and Showtime cards. According to Nielsen Media Research, HBO’s undercard fight of Yuriorkis Gamboa-Darleys Perez drew 947,000, which increased to 1,024,000 viewers for the Adonis Stevenson-Chad Dawson main event. Showtime, which had a tripleheader, drew a measly 207,000 viewers for the Jermell Charlo-Demetrius Hopkins opener, which grew to 471,000 for the Erislandy Lara-Alfredo Angulo co-feature and then 594,000 for the Marcos Maidana-Josesito Lopez main event. Although Showtime (which is in about 8 million fewer homes than HBO) had the better overall card for sure and has seen its boxing viewership on an overall upswing, the dreadful Gamboa-Perez undercard fight on HBO still drew 353,000 more than Showtime’s main event.

Promoter/rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson started off slowly in the promotional game.

The first fight he was involved in was when he made a deal with Top Rank to put his top fighter, Yuriorkis Gamboa, on the HBO PPV undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV last December.

For his second foray, Fiddy's SMS Promotions teamed up with promoter Lou DiBella to put on an ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" card on March 1. But it was really DiBella’s staff that did the heavy lifting for that event in which Billy Dib, one of Jackson’s fighters, lost a split decision and his featherweight world title to Evgeny Gradovich in the main event at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn.

And last Saturday, he had Gamboa on an HBO card in Montreal promoted by Yvon Michel and Gary Shaw.

Now with a little experience under his belt, Jackson is promoting his first card solo-style, another "FNF" show, which takes place July 5 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn.
Jackson was in Hartford on Wednesday for a news conference to announce the card.

Dib originally was going to headline the card, but when a main event-worthy opponent could not be lined up, Jackson made a deal to bring in the fight between light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Colombian Olympian living in Montreal, and Tulsa, Okla., native Allan Green (32-4, 22 KOs), who participated in the Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament.

Alvarez-Green was originally supposed to be on the May 25 Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute undercard in Montreal. When Bute got hurt and the show was postponed, promoter Yvon Michel shifted the fight to last Saturday’s Adonis Stevenson-Chad Dawson undercard. But it was pulled off that show for various reasons and ultimately, a deal was made with Jackson to have the fight headline the ESPN2 card.

Australia’s Dib (35-2, 21 KOs) will also be on the card in a non-title bout in the co-feature against Mike Oliver (25-3, 8 KOs) of Hartford. Dib has a rematch clause with Gradovich and if Dib beats Oliver and Gradovich retains his title against Mauricio Munoz on July 27 in Macau, the rematch is expected to follow.

"I'm excited because this is the first show put together by SMS Promotions,” Jackson said. “It's been a learning experience. We've been part of shows but never did the promotional job. I'm not far from home in Farmington [Conn.]. We've put together a real event with some of the best fighters in the world, good prospects and some local fighters. We're creating a platform for fighters to progress and I want to be part of it. Overall, it's a great opportunity to do things a little differently. I've associated myself with some big name fighters.

"The Hartford area has a long boxing history with Hall of Famer Willie Pep and other world champions and top contenders [and champions] like Battling Battalino, Marlon Starling [who was in attendance at the news conference], Kid Kaplan, Tyrone Booze and 'Iceman' John Scully.”

Jackson will also have three of his other fighters on the card, lightweight prospect Mark Davis (16-0, 5 KOs), a former two-time U.S. national amateur champion, junior welterweight Luis Olivares (3-0, 2 KOs) and junior welterweight Donte Strayhorn (1-0, 0 KOs).

Oliver hasn’t fought since being knocked out in the second round by former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez in October 2011 and is in a tough fight against Dib.

“I haven't fought in over a year, but I'm back,” Oliver said. “My last fight was against 'Juanma,' but that was in Puerto Rico and this fight is in my hometown, Hartford. I know you don't believe me 50, but I'm going to beat your guy.”

Perez: I'm prepared for Gamboa

June, 5, 2013
Lightweight Darleys Perez was on the worldwide stage as an amateur when he was in the 2008 Olympics for Colombia. Now he will be on the biggest stage of his professional career.

Perez will face Yuriorkis Gamboa, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist, for a vacant interim lightweight belt on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The fight will open for the headliner of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in a title defense against Quebec's Adonis Stevenson.

Perez (28-0, 19 KOs), 29, is the bigger, stronger man. Gamboa, 31, who holds an interim junior lightweight belt (and is a former unified featherweight titlist) is long on skills and speed. He also has good pop, but he'll be fighting as a lightweight for the first time, so it remains to be seen whether the punch he had at lower weights will still be with him when he faces a naturally bigger man.

Without question, this is the biggest fight of Perez's career. It's not even close to that for Gamboa (22-0, 16 KOs).

Perez is well aware of Gamboa's amateur and pro credentials. He said he specifically sparred with Cuban fighters to get a feel for the style that so many of them have in common.

"I have been sparring against many Cuban fighters because their style of fighting is very similar to Gamboa's fighting style. They are great for sparring purposes," Perez said, noting the tremendous success that the Cuban national team has had at the Olympics for decades. "I have learned a lot by sparring with them. I feel comfortable going into the ring to battle it out against Gamboa."

Perez has a sparkling record but will be facing by far the best opponent of his career when he meets Gamboa, who won a vacant interim 130-pound belt by unanimous decision against Michael Farenas on Dec. 8. But Gamboa has talked about going to 135 since even before facing Farenas, so he will probably remain at lightweight, win or lose.

"I have been training very hard for this fight," Perez said. "I had to step up my regimen and train harder because I am taking on Yuriorkis Gamboa, who is a higher-caliber fighter. Everyone watching the fight should know that it is going to be a great fight and that I am prepared to go toe-to-toe with Gamboa. The most important thing for me would be to win big against a fighter as skilled as him."

One note on Perez's first name: For years, in press releases, on television graphics and on official fight records, his name was always spelled "Darley." However, according to HBO, Perez told one of the network's producers in preparation for Saturday's telecast that it is really spelled "Darleys" and that it has just been misspelled for all these years.
50 Cent-Yuriorkis GamboaChris Farina/Top RankPromoter 50 Cent, left, hasn't been able to secure an interim title fight for Yuriorkis Gamboa.
A few updates on some upcoming fights:

• Former unified featherweight titlist and interim junior lightweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa has never fought at lightweight, but when he makes his debut in the 135-pound division he will be fighting for another interim belt.

Gamboa (22-0, 16 KOs), the Miami-based 2004 Olympic gold medalist, meets 2008 Colombian Olympian Darleys Perez (28-0, 19 KOs) on Saturday (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at Bell Centre in Montreal. He will be on the undercard of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson’s defense against Quebec’s power-punching Adonis Stevenson. But what was originally scheduled as a 10-round nontitle bout became an interim title bout after Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, the rap star and Gamboa’s promoter, paid a recent visit to WBA headquarters in Panama and got the bout sanctioned.

Also on the card, prospect Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian, will face Sergio Villanueva (25-2-2, 13 KOs) of Mexico in a scheduled 10-rounder that HBO Latino will air on tape delay at 12:15 a.m. ET.

• East Los Angles junior welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez (15-0, 11 KOs), who is just 21, should gain valuable experience when he faces former titleholder (and now division gatekeeper) DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley (39-20-1, 23 KOs) of Washington, D.C., in a scheduled 10-round main event of a “Golden Boy Live” card (FSN/Fox Deportes) on July 20 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. Corley is coming off a decision loss in his previous fight, when he traveled to Russia to face Viktor Postal in October, but in his previous two bouts Corley pulled upsets. He outpointed Gabriel Bracero and then stopped Paul McCloskey in the 10th round in Northern Ireland in a stunner. In the co-feature, junior featherweight prospect Randy Caballero (18-0, 10 KOs) will face Puerto Rico's Miguel Robles (12-2-2, 5 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Caballero, who is from Coachella, Calif., is a crowd favorite at Fantasy Springs, where he has fought 11 of his 18 pro fights.

• Former featherweight titlist Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs), who got dropped four times and lost his title via lopsided eighth-round technical decision to Mikey Garcia in January, will be back Aug. 16 in his hometown of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, manager Sean Gibbons told ESPN.com. Salido, 32, suffered a right broken orbital bone in the fight, one of the reasons for the extended layoff. Gibbons said there is no opponent yet, but that Salido will be fighting at junior lightweight, possibly in a title eliminator that would put him in line for a crack at titleholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez.

• Puerto Rican junior middleweight Jorge Melendez (26-2-1, 25 KOs), a Miguel Cotto protege, is on his third opponent for his “ShoBox: The New Generation” main event Friday night (Showtime, 11 ET/PT). Melendez was due to face Mexico’s Luis Grajeda (14-1, 10 KOs) in the scheduled 10-rounder. When Grajeda dropped out -- for no reason other than he decided against taking the fight, according to Showtime -- Lanardo Tyner (30-8-2, 19 KOs) stepped in. However, even though Tyner is coming off a 12th-round knockout win on May 9 in Dallas, he was suspended under the normal Texas rules that say a fighter must be off three days for every round he fought in his most recent fight, which keeps him out until after Friday. So now it’s Nick Brinson (14-1-2, 6 KOs) stepping in on short notice. Puerto Rican bantamweight Jonathan Vidal (17-0, 9 KOs) faces Mario Munoz (13-0-1, 10 KOs) of Mexico in the eight-round co-feature.

• Japan’s Koki Kameda (30-1, 17 KOs) will make his seventh title defense when he faces the Philippines’ Mark John Apolinario (17-2-3, 4 KOs) on July 23 in Tokyo. Odd stat about Apolinario: He’s got three draws in his past four bouts, including back-to-back draws with Roberto Vasquez in interim title bouts.

June 8 fight undercards set

May, 24, 2013
There are two big fight cards on June 8.

A Showtime tripleheader from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., will be headlined by the welterweight clash between Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez, and also will feature two junior middleweight fights: Erislandy Lara against Alfredo Angulo, and prospect Jermell Charlo facing Demetrius Hopkins.

In an HBO doubleheader, Chad Dawson will defend the light heavyweight world championship against Adonis Stevenson in the main event at the Bell Centre in Montreal, and Yuriorkis Gamboa will move up to lightweight to take on Darley Perez in the co-feature.

Now both undercards have come together.

The Carson undercard includes a pair of fights that will air as part of Showtime Extreme's coverage of the preliminary bouts. Japan's Yoshihiro Kamegai (22-0-1, 19 KOs) and Johan Perez (16-1-1, 12 KOs), a former interim junior welterweight titlist from Venezuela, will meet in a 10-round welterweight bout. This one could be action-packed. Also, heavyweight Gerald Washington (7-0, 5 KOs), a former USC football player, will meet journeyman Sherman Williams (35-12-2, 19 KOs).

Time permitting, junior featherweight Joseph Diaz (4-0, 2 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, will also get TV time for his six-rounder against an opponent to be determined.

In other fights, junior lightweight prospect Ronny Rios (20-0, 9 KOs) will face veteran Leonilo Miranda (32-5, 30 KOs); lightweight Luis Ramos (23-1, 10 KOs) will face Fidel Maldonado (15-2, 12 KOs); lightweight Jamie Kavanagh (13-0-1, 5 KOs) will face Sergio Perez (27-14, 18 KOs); junior featherweight prospect Manuel Avila (11-0, 4 KOs) will meet Jamal Parram (6-7-1, 4 KOs) and bantamweight Edgar Valero (2-0, 2 KOs) will take on David Reyes (2-3-1).

In Montreal, lightweight prospect Jose "Sniper" Pedraza (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Puerto Rico Olympian, will face an opponent to be determined. The bout will air on HBO Latino, which will begin televising undercard bouts from some HBO cards, similar to what Showtime Extreme does for Showtime bouts. The big difference, though: HBO Latino telecasts will be broadcast in Spanish.

Among the other undercard fights, light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs) will face former super middleweight contender Allan Green (32-4-0, 22 KOs), who was a washout as an alternate in the Super Six World Boxing Classic; Montreal middleweight David Lemieux (28-2, 27 KOs), one of boxing's biggest punchers, will meet Robert Swierzbinski (11-1-0, 3 KOs); and unbeaten heavyweights Didier Bence (8-0, 2 KOs) and Eric Barrack (7-0, 6 KOs) will square off.

Perez hoping to shock Gamboa

May, 14, 2013
Yourkis GamboaChris Farina/Top RankYuriorkis Gamboa stands in the way of Darley Perez's upset hopes in their June 8 lightweight bout.
As an amateur fighter, Darley Perez was a 2008 Olympian for his native Colombia. As a professional, he is undefeated but a bit too old to still be called a prospect and not proven enough yet to be called a contender.

But now that Perez (28-0, 19 KOs) is taking on fellow unbeaten (but far more experienced) Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0, 16 KOs) on June 8 (HBO) at the Bell Centre in Montreal on the undercard of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson's defense against Adonis Stevenson, we ought to get some answers about just how good Perez can be as a pro.

Gamboa, after all, was a Cuban Olympic gold medalist in 2004 and has won two pro world titles at featherweight and an interim title at junior lightweight. Now Gamboa is moving up in weight again, this time to lightweight, where he will face Perez.

"I wouldn't dare take Gamboa lightly," said Perez, 29, who has fought primarily in the United States since 2010. "I'll train hard for a tough fight and he'd be well-advised to do the same because I'm a top fighter. I will prove to everyone that I am a world-class fighter and the rest of the world will figure out what I already know after June 8th."

Gary Shaw, who co-promotes Perez with Thompson Boxing, said they have been patient trying to get Perez this kind of high-profile fight and are confident he will make the most of it.

"You have to understand that we've been waiting on an opportunity like this for Perez to make his mark," Shaw said. "Some may feel like it is Darley's chance to pull off the shocking upset, but I see it as more of a coming-out party. We've had him caged in waiting for the chance to unleash the beast and we could've pulled the trigger a couple fights back and then the world would be aware of his chances in this fight. But because we knew that an opportunity like this was only a matter of time we waited and now he will show he's been a top contender all along."

Gamboa, 31, who is promoted by rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, will be fighting for only the second time since his dominant eighth-round technical decision against Daniel Ponce De Leon in Sept. 2011. In his last fight, Gamboa looked a bit shaky in a decision win against Michael Farenas in December to claim an interim belt at 130 pounds on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV undercard.

Gamboa sees the fight with Perez as a steppingstone to winning another world title, this one at lightweight.

"I keep looking to prove my worth and will now do so in trying to win a fourth world title in a third weight class, the lightweight division," Gamboa said. "I like challenging myself [and] June 8th I plan on showing my best yet again."

New dates for Broner, Gamboa?

March, 5, 2013
After the March 16 Ricky Burns-Miguel Vazquez lightweight unification fight was pushed off on Monday, Golden Boy Promotions' CEO Richard Schaefer said he revisited trying to make a unification fight between Adrien Broner and Scotland's Burns for June 15 in Las Vegas.

After Burns-Vazquez was postponed until April 20, still in London, Schaefer said he was in touch with Burns promoter Frank Warren about instead doing the Broner fight, which the sides had already tried to negotiate in February.

According to Schaefer, Warren said he was interested but that Burns' manager, Alex Morrison, wasn't. Schaefer said that was "unfortunate, because Ricky is going to lose to Vasquez for a fraction of the money he can make fighting Broner."

Schaefer wouldn't put a number on how much he offered for Burns but said, "I offered Frank a lot of money for Burns to come over. It's a very big number. I said to Frank, 'Why don't you come over here [to the U.S.]? At least Ricky is going to make double or triple what he can make in this fight with Vazquez.' Frank said, 'I'm on board, but the manager doesn't want to fight Broner.' He said there's nothing he can do."

With no Burns fight for Broner, Schaefer said there's a possibility the lightweight titlist will jump up two weight classes to challenge welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Malignaggi's hometown).

"Paulie told me he is interested, and HBO likes the fight," Schaefer said. "People will like that fight. Paulie did tell me he would take it. He's not sure Broner would take it. I put it to [Broner manager] Al Haymon to talk to Adrien. I think it would be a very interesting fight."

I like Broner-Burns, but Malignaggi-Broner? Count me in.

• Yuriorkis Gamboa, who won a vacant interim junior lightweight title with a less-than-impressive decision against Michael Farenas on Dec. 8, has no fight lined up yet, but there have been talks about a spring return, likely at lightweight. Gamboa, who is with promoter/rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson), is looking for an opponent. From what I'm told, HBO is interested in his next fight and former titlist Antonio DeMarco came up as a possible opponent. DeMarco lost his title by eighth-round knockout to Broner in April. Although HBO owes DeMarco a fight based on the deal from the Broner bout, DeMarco promoter Gary Shaw told me they are not interested in Gamboa.

• Here's a late but nice addition to this weekend's television boxing lineup: Top Rank announced that the flyweight title eliminator between former junior flyweight titleholders Edgar Sosa (47-7, 28 KOs) of Mexico City and Ulises "Archie" Solis (35-2-3, 22 KOs) will headline "Solo Boxeo Tecate" (UniMas, 11 ET/PT) on Saturday night in Guadalajara, Solis' hometown. They will be meeting for the third time. Solis won both of their previous fights, a six-round decision in 2001 and a majority decision in a Mexican junior flyweight title fight in 2003.

• Javier Fortuna (21-0, 15 KOs) of the Dominican Republic, who won a vacant interim featherweight belt by outpointing Patrick Hyland on Dec. 8 on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV undercard, will make his first defense against Mexico's Miguel Zamudio (25-1-1, 13 KOs) on April 13. The fight will headline ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" at a location to be determined.

• There was a purse bid held Tuesday at the IBF offices in New Jersey for Juan Carlos Sanchez (15-1-1, 8 KOs) of Mexico and Argentina's Roberto Sosa (24-0, 14 KOs). However, according to IBF championships chairman Lindsey Tucker, nobody showed up to bid on the fight. Tucker said he has rescheduled the bid for March 19. If nobody shows up a second time, Sanchez will be stripped of his title.

• HBO's new boxing series "Cornered" debuts Tuesday night (10:15 ET/PT). The 15-minute debut, which focuses on famed ring announcer Michael Buffer, is a behind-the-scenes series that will follow boxing personalities who aren't fighters themselves. HBO is calling the show a "companion series" to its popular "2 Days," which follows a fighter in the 48 hours leading up to his fight.

Bradley, Gamboa in discussions

January, 19, 2013
Timothy BradleyChris Farina/Top RankTimothy Bradley Jr. could face Yuriorkis Gamboa ... or Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his next fight.

NEW YORK -- Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. is supposed to be back in action March 16 and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has been saying it’s going to be a big-name opponent, but he won’t say who.

But from what I am told, Top Rank has a deal with Yuriorkis Gamboa to face Bradley in an HBO main event at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Gamboa, the 50 Cent-promoted former featherweight titlist, won an interim junior lightweight belt in December on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV undercard in a deal made with Top Rank (Gamboa’s former promoter).

Gamboa would move up in weight to challenge for Bradley’s welterweight title, but there are issues of how high. My sources tell me that they have been unable to agree on an exact weight. Gamboa, at a huge size disadvantage, would like Bradley to come into the low 140s while Bradley (not far removed from being a champion at 140) is not keen on dropping weight, nor is he in love with the financial terms.

It remains to be seen if Bradley will take the fight. He hasn’t fought since June, when he got a gift decision (and a welterweight title) against Pacquiao.

He could have returned in December to fight a rematch with Lamont Peterson (the junior welterweight titlist who would have moved up in weight) on HBO for $2.3 million. But Bradley turned it down, even though he had decisively beaten Peterson a couple of years ago.

One of the reasons there could be issues closing a deal with Bradley -- and this is speculation, but some in the business believe could be legit -- is that he is also being considered as an opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 4.

Obviously, he would make way more money against Mayweather than Gamboa. And he wouldn’t have to lose any weight.

Some might ask how could a Mayweather fight be made, since Mayweather is with Al Haymon and Golden Boy is the main promoter of the event, and Haymon and Golden Boy have horrific relations with Top Rank, Bradley’s promoter.

I believe that if a Mayweather fight was presented to Bradley, that Top Rank, for the right seven-figure cut of the Bradley package, would allow him to go fight Mayweather and stay out of the promotion.

I can see it happening. If you’re Mayweather, Bradley is a better style fight for him than either of the two candidates being discussed for his next fight: Robert Guerrero (a physical southpaw) and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (a bigger man with good power). Bradley is right-handed, smaller and presents less problems than they do.

Maybe I’m being a conspiracy theorist here, but maybe, just maybe, the hang up in announcing Mayweather’s next opponent is because there are delicate talks going on behind the scenes for a possible fight with Bradley, whose attorney Gabriel Penagaricano, has a good relationship with Golden Boy through his recent dealings with the company on behalf of his top client, Miguel Cotto (Mayweather’s last opponent).

If Bradley vacates the March 16 date -- be it to fight Mayweather or because he won’t agree to terms for a Gamboa fight -- it would not surprise me to see Top Rank and HBO move junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire up a month (possibly to fight a unification bout with Guillermo Rigondeaux) and have him fill the date rather than go in April, which is the plan now.

All food for thought.