Boxing is a strange sport, in that it can take a long, long time for talented boxers to achieve mass brand-name recognition. Sometimes the profile uptick takes place and reaches a high spot at the apex of their careers. In other words, it comes later than they’d like.
Many are still building up their brands in their most fertile years as athletes and they see interest in their careers still at a high level, even after their skills have begun to erode.
Former two-time featherweight beltholder Yuriorkis Gamboa is not at his athletic peak; I think most all will agree. However he is a NAME; he is still someone who can elicit curiosity in his forthcoming fight because of that brand-name recognition.
Gamboa (28-2, 17 kncokouts) is now 36 years old and is still gloving up. He fights Saturday, in Florida, and will face former 130-pound title challenger Miguel Beltran Jr. (33-6, 22 KOs) at Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds in Miami. The Cuban last fought in November 2017, against Jason Sosa.
Gamboa is now working further Off-Broadway; you could say. He’s won two straight, after dropping a shocker to 23-12 Robinson Castellanos…
.. while Golden Boy was looking to rebuild him as a viable lightweight title contender. This fight on Saturday is another stab in that direction.
You can watch this face-off and select bouts on pay-per-view; just check your local listings and cable and satellite provider. There are other names on the card; Juan Manuel Lopez has a slot there and unbeaten featherweight Hairon Soccaras has some promise, as does undefeated welterweight Harold Calderon.
“I feel very happy, at a good place,” Gamboa said in questions furnished by RingTV.com.
Since the Sosa fight, Gamboa told us he was training dilligently and he moved from Vegas to Florida to finish camp.
Is he confident he bests Beltran, who is not necessarily a “fresh” 29?
“It’s not so much confidence in being able to beat someone but more so confidence in the amount of work I’ve put in to get the result I want,” said Gamboa, “so in that aspect, I’m 100 percent confident in the work I’ve put in my whole camp to come out victorious.”
I’m curious, as I would be with any 36-year-old; does Gamboa still like doing this? “If there was any other way, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he admitted ruefully.
So how close is he to prime Gamboa? “That’s the main purpose of this fight, to show people and my fans that to get proper amount of time to give the results I used to give and I’m here to do that!”
Does he have a time frame of how much longer he wants to – and is able to – lead the fighting life? “That’s a question more for the man upstairs, who, after every fight, either restores my energy and youth or doesn’t. As of now, I have no plans of retiring but it’s not up to me!”
I like his honesty in that answer: Wait and we’ll see, Gamboa offers.
Gamboa seems to notice that Beltran has a Mexican warrior soul and seems confident that he has a game plan to get the victory. He usually likes opponents to come to him, so this should be a good style match for the hitter.
My three cents: History and human nature are likely not on the side of Gamboa to look spectacular on Saturday to return to the mix for a final run at relevance and a triumphant 11th career hour return to glory. But I won’t count him out; he’s been blessed with superior skills and one never knows when the head, the heart and the body can confer and summon a special coda to a career that has seen its share of downs and fewer ups than pundits would have predicted when the story started.
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