Before Luis Ortiz, Guillermo Rigondeux, Erislandy Lara, and Rances Barthelemy, Yuriorkis Gamboa was the standout Cuban boxer in all of boxing. Gamboa had a perfect blend of speed and power that is rarely seen in the sport. For a couple of years it looked like Gamboa would be one of the biggest stars in the sport along with being one of its finest pugilists. Gamboa seemed destined for a big fight with fellow Top Rank promoted fighter Juan Manuel Lopez. Lopez then stepped in the ring against Orlando Salido. Gamboa had defeated Salido previously in a tougher than expected outing, but managed to get the job done. Salido took out Lopez in two great fights and Lopez was never the same. A super fight between Gamboa & Lopez never came to fruition. Gamboa moved on and moved up in weight to the 130-pound weight class.
Now that the Lopez bout was behind Gamboa, he was ready to face new champions in higher weight classes. In the first half of 2012, Gamboa signed on to face lightweight champion, Brandon Rios. This was the beginning of the end for Gamboa as fans knew him. Gamboa skipped out on the kick off press conference of the bout and ultimately dropped out of the match up altogether. Gamboa decided that he was done working with Top Rank as his promoter. He had signed to rapper 50 cent’s SMS Promotions. This would prove almost immediately to be a big mistake for the Cuban champion. Gamboa ended up sitting out most of 2012 and fought Michael Farenas on the undercard of the fourth Pacquiao-Marquez Pay-Per-View. To say the least Gamboa looked unimpressive. His next bout was against Darleys Perez in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where once again Gamboa failed to impress. Not only was Gamboa facing the biggest stretches of inactivity of his entire boxing career, but he was also showing little interest in being entertaining.
A year later Gamboa took the gamble to once again move up in weight to take on lightweight champion, Terence Crawford. It turned out to be a great fight where Gamboa gave as good as he got, but Crawford ended up being too big for Gamboa and eventually stopped the Cuban in the ninth round. Gamboa had his first defeat of his professional boxing career. After a great fight against one of the best in the world, you would think Gamboa would be back in action. With more problems from his promoter, Gamboa once again hasn’t been seen by most boxing fans. He fought at the end of 2014 in Mexico and almost sat out 2015. Gamboa was on a card for HBO Latino that featured the Gabriel Rosado – Joshua Clottey bout. He faced Hylon Willaims and won by ten round decision.
Gamboa has attempted to get out of his contract with SMS promotions, but it has proven to be unsuccessful. While Gamboa may not have been completely satisfied with everything Top Rank was doing for him, it has to be clear now that he should have stayed with the company until his contract ran out. Gamboa is not the first fighter to have promotional issues holding him back as his contemporaries in Mikey Garcia and Andre Ward are either still going through their issues or have just gotten over them. He is one of the most talented fighters still to this day, but it seems that he was beat by the politics of the sport rather than inside of the ring.
Boxing is a young man’s game and the longer Gamboa stays outside of the ring, he will eventually be forgotten. Hopefully in 2016, we’ll see more of Gamboa inside of the ring.