Yuriorkis Gamboa’s professional career has spanned more than a decade and his boxing trails feature different stops throughout the U.S. fight landscape as well ring appearances in Germany, Canada and Mexico.
One noticeable void on Gamboa’s resume is a fight in Miami — the hometown Gamboa adopted soon after defecting from the Cuban national boxing team 12 years ago. True, Gamboa has fought at venues in neighboring Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood but never at the epicenter of the nation’s largest Cuban-American community.
For Gamboa, the absence of a Miami fight finally ends Saturday night. Gamboa, 36, will face Mexico’s Miguel Beltran in the main event of a card at the Youth Fair Expo Center. The scheduled 10-round lightweight bout headlines an announced seven-bout show.
“I have always wanted to fight here but the opportunity never materialized,” Gamboa said Wednesday. “God plans things accordingly and this is the exact moment. He knows this is the opportunity.
“It is going to be very emotional because it is something that I wanted to experience and wanted to feel. It will be a very special night for me.”
After an inactive 2016, Gamboa (28-2, 17 KOs) returned last year with four fights. But one of the bouts ended in a seventh-round technical knockout loss to Robinson Castellanos. Gamboa far from resembled the fighter who won a world featherweight title and interim belts as a junior-lightweight and lightweight. In addition to winning multiple titles, Gamboa became a popular attraction on HBO because of his crowd-pleasing performances.
“Everybody knows what Yuriorkis Gamboa has accomplished,” Gamboa said. “But there have been doubts about my career being over. This will be a reason to prove that it is not over.”
During the height of his featherweight title reign, Gamboa and fellow titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico were targeted for a unification fight. The bout’s appeal faded after Lopez suffered two knockout losses to Orlando Salido within 11 months.
Although both fighters are past their career peaks, Gamboa and Lopez could be headed toward a match next year, especially since Lopez also will appear on Saturday’s card. Lopez (35-6, 32 KOs) will face Argentina’s Cristian Mino (19-2, 17 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round lightweight bout.
“The road appears headed that way and if there are no obstacles, I believe Juan Ma and I will finally have the fight,” Gamboa said.
Gamboa understands that a possible fight with Lopez will require a victory and impressive performance against two-time world title challenger Beltran (33-6, 22 KOs). Lopez, 35, also is on a deep career tailspin the past five years and desperately needs a win to overcome a 2-4 stretch in his last six fights with the four losses ending in knockouts.
“Beltran is at an elite level and has the skills to face a champion,” Gamboa said. “We did not want someone that could be easily defeated to pad the record.”
Saturday’s card begins at 8. For ticket information, visit www.1234ticket.com. The show originally was scheduled for the Plaza Section at Marlins Park but logistical conflicts prompted the change of venue.