When Yuriorkis Gamboa makes his highly anticipated return Saturday night, the Miami resident and native of Cuba does not expect ring rust despite 15 months of inactivity.
Gamboa will fight Michael Farenas on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao- J uan Manuel Marquez welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The Gamboa-Farenas fight will be part of the pay-per-view telecast.
“I have not been fighting, but I have been training nonstop all this time,” Gamboa said after a workout last week in Los Angeles. “This is my life, so I’ve been working very hard in the gym to be ready for an opportunity like this.”
Gamboa, a world featherweight champion from 2009 to 2011, had a lucrative opportunity for the best payday of his career against Brandon Rios earlier this year. But Gamboa refused the bout and fellow Miami-resident Richard Abril took his spot and lost a controversial decision.
A promotional conflict resulted in Gamboa’s lengthy ring absence and the cancellation of the Rios fight. Gamboa, 31, now says the promotional issues are resolved after signing with hip-hop performer and fledgling promoter Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
“I am happy to have resolved my problems away from the ring,” Gamboa said. “Jackson has done what he promised, which includes this great opportunity on the most-important card of 2012.”
Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) has not fought since winning a technical decision against Daniel Ponce De Leon on Sept. 2011. Although he plans to remain in the 130-pound junior-lightweight class for the foreseeable future, Gamboa still envisions a fight against Rios. After his win against Abril, Rios moved up to the 140-pound class.
“There is some sense of anxiety wanting to return to the ring and prove that I am one of the best boxers in the world,” Gamboa said. “I want to be a world champion again and try to unify all world titles at 130 pounds.
“I am going to stay here at 130 for a while and will see about going up to 135 and then 140, and if Rios is still there, I would love to go fight him.”
It took eight years for Pacquiao and Marquez to have their three hotly contested fights. The rivalry’s fourth bout Saturday comes quicker and under surprising circumstances.
Conventional wisdom had Pacquiao fighting an immediate rematch with Timothy Bradley, who won a controversial decision against Pacquiao on June 9 and dethroned him as welterweight champion. But Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) opted for another match with Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs).
Pacquiao and Marquez fought to a draw in their first bout as featherweights eight years ago. In 2008 and 2011, Pacquiao won split and majority decisions against his nemesis.
“I am giving him a chance to prove he can win the fight because he thought he has won all three, and he keeps talking about it,” Pacquiao said. “So, it is very important to me to win this fight, especially since Marquez really wanted this fight. I don’t feel any extra pressure for this fight. I chose to fight him.”
Trout beats Cotto
Austin Trout retained his WBA super-welterweight title with a win by unanimous decision against Miguel Cotto in New York. Trout won on all three judges’ scorecards, 117-111 (twice) and 119-109. The loss was Cotto’s first in seven title fights at Madison Square Garden.