Yuriorkis Gamboa gets opponent

Updated: November 21, 2012, 8:14 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Former unified featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa got a new opponent in Michael Farenas on Monday for his first fight in 15 months.

Gamboa will face Farenas in a 130-pound non-title bout in the co-feature on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV undercard on Dec. 8 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com.

Gamboa, who is moving up to junior lightweight after being stripped of a pair of featherweight belts, was originally slated to face Mexico's Miguel Beltran Jr. for a vacant interim title. However, Beltran (27-2, 17 KOs) was in a brutally tough fight on Sept. 15, losing a split decision in an all-action battle with Roman Martinez for a vacant world title on the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard.

"He was just physically not ready to go back in the gym after such a grueling match with Martinez," Moretti said. "It was too soon of a turnaround."

Top Rank used to promote Gamboa until a falling out and earlier this year sold his promotional contract to hip hop star 50 Cent -- real name Curtis Jackson. Jackson, whose SMS Promotions received a promoters license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission last week, made a deal with Top Rank to place Gamboa on the Pacquiao-Marquez IV undercard.

After Beltran dropped out, Moretti said numerous names were discussed as an opponent for Gamboa, including Edner Cherry and Rene Gonzalez.

"We've been through a 100 names and a bunch of guys turned it down too," Moretti said.

They finally agreed on Farenas, who is with Pacquiao's MP Promotions and was going to be on the undercard anyway.

"Once Miguel Beltran fell out, the quest for an opponent began and the fact that (Farenas) was already on the card and he's a Filipino brought some natural cache to it," Moretti said.

Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs), a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist who defected and turned pro in 2007, has not fought since a dominant eighth-round technical decision win against Daniel Ponce De Leon in September 2011. Gamboa was winning by virtual shutout when the fight was stopped and sent to the scorecards after Ponce De Leon suffered a bad cut from an accidental head butt.

Farenas (34-3-4, 26 KOs), 28, is on an eight-fight unbeaten streak. In his last fight in July, he challenged Takashi Uchiyama for one of the junior lightweight world titles in Japan but it ended in a three-round technical draw after Uchiyama suffered a bad cut from an accidental head butt and was unable to continue.

Also on the televised undercard, lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez (32-3, 13 KOs) of Mexico defends against Mercito Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KOs) of the Philippines and Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs) of the Dominican Republic faces Ireland's Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12 KOs) for a vacant interim featherweight title. Also on the card, lightweight Jose Ramirez, a 2012 U.S. Olympian who recently signed with Top Rank, makes his professional debut against an opponent to be determined in a scheduled four-round bout.