Their records are identical at 23-0 with 16 knockouts although the 32-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa stands nearly three inches shorter than the nearly 5-foot-8 WBO lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford, 26, coming in at 5-5-and-a-half.
Gamboa will be ending a one-year-plus ring absence by facing the switch-hitting Crawford in the latter's home town of Omaha, Neb., at the CenturyLink Center.
"Good fight, excellent match-up," states Rich Marotta of KFI Radio, Los Angeles. "Love the site. Exact same undefeated record, how often do you get that?"
Crawford was last in the ring for a dominant title-winning decision over Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland in March while Gamboa's most recent bout was a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Darleys Perez on June 8, 2013.
"It's a fight between who we know and who we don't. Yuriorkis Gamboa is a mystery, MIA at a time when his career should be moving into its prime. The two-time beltholder hasn't fought in a year," states Norm Frauenheim of THE RING magazine and www.15rounds.com.
"He fought once in 2013, once in 2012 and twice in 2011…Suddenly, he reappears against Terence Crawford? If Gamboa is trying to make up for lost time, he's rushing into trouble, especially in Crawford's hometown, Omaha, where on Saturday night, he figures to be as popular as Warren Buffett."
Crawford-Gamboa represents the first title fight in Omaha since heavyweight champion Joe Frazier beat Ron Stander by fifth round knockout in 1972 and Crawford is the state's first titleholder since Perry “Kid” Graves from won the vacant welterweight crown in 1914.
"I have Terence Crawford as one of the most live underdogs of the year and I really think he's in this fight all the way to the end," states John Scully, former trainer of ex-light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson. "I wouldn't feel comfortable risking money on the outcome. I think Crawford will force Gamboa to dig a little deeper than he's had to before."
RingTV.com asked 25 boxing insiders what they felt would transpire in Crawford-Gamboa, with the results as follows.
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I had high hopes for Yuriorkis Gamboa when he first entered the pro ranks and embarked on an ambitious schedule. I don't see that same version still existing as he's moved up in weight.
Inactivity certainly doesn't help either although I don't see a steady stream of fights helping him against Terence Crawford, who has the tools to run the tables at lightweight. No home-cooking required; Crawford boxes his way to victory with room to spare.
Record: 11-5 [Last pick: Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: It's a fight between who we know and who we don't. Yuriorkis Gamboa is a mystery, MIA at a time when his career should be moving into its prime. The two-time beltholder hasn't fought in a year. He fought once in 2013, once in 2012 and twice in 2011.
Other than his name showing up alongside Alex Rodriquez in stories about the Biogensis PED scandal, Gamboa has been out of sight, out of mind. Suddenly, he reappears against Terence Crawford? If Gamboa is trying to make up for lost time, he's rushing into trouble, especially in Crawford's hometown, Omaha, where on Saturday night, he figures to be as popular as Warren Buffett.
We remember Gamboa for speed, power and Olympic gold. But the bigger Crawford has displayed maturity and durability, especially in his victory over Ricky Burns in Scotland. Gamboa might keep it close for a while but inconsistency is often a byproduct of inactivity. Crawford will score during the moments when Gamboa tries to recall forgotten instinct and restore rusty skill.
Record: 14-5 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford MD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I was once a big believer in the pound-for-pound viability of Yuriorkis Gamboa in boxing. No longer. When a fighter begins to perform and behave in a way that reflects his guidance under the career control of a rapper-turned-promoter, that's not a good idea.
Neither is a fight in any talented champion's backyard when you're a Cuban challenger from Guantanamo competing in Omaha, Nebraska. The Cornhusker State is Terence Crawford country. They don't like cyclones or tornadoes.
If that sounds like the recipe for a storm in the form of a hometown decision, you've been warned. Will Crawford actually need any home-cooking in his homecoming? I suspect not.
Impressive showings against Breidis Prescott and Ricky Burns have prepared the hungry hunter/gatherer for another step up in competition. The new WBO champion is already the class of the lightweight division. Using his superior height and reach to good advantage, Crawford wins a safety-first majority decision that should probably be unanimous.
Record: 12-7 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford TKO 11 Yuriorkis Gamboa: Yuriorkis Gamboa frustrates the hell out of me. He's had two fights in three years and competed in three weight divisions. That is ludicrous and one of the reasons I'm picking against him is simply because he doesn't deserve to win. Like the majority of fans, I was a huge admirer of "El Ciclon."
He had dazzling speed, thunderous power and didn't even know the meaning of playing it safe. Still, somewhere along the line, he has gotten a sense of himself. Boxing is no longer at the forefront in terms of Gamboa's priorities. Promoter 50 Cent might be a cool cat to be around but he can't help you in a prize ring.
I saw Terence Crawford win the WBO lightweight title from ringside against Ricky Burns. Crawford looked to have a significant strength edge against the Scotsman at 135 pounds. I never thought I'd say that because Burns is huge at the weight. So for me, Gamboa will be dwarfed and completely outgunned in this one.
Inactivity is bad enough but when you're going through weight classes like there's no tomorrow, you really are asking for a pasting. I can see Gamboa looking good at the start but he's findable and Crawford's strength and volume will be telling on him from the midway point. It may last 12 but I see Crawford taking this one late by stoppage.
Record: 14-5 [Last pick: Alexander UD 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: To me, this is a fight between the known and the unknown. We know what we're going to get with Terence Crawford – excellent switch-hitting, effective defense, underrated power and world-class versatility.
But Yuriorkis Gamboa appears to be a fighter caught between styles. I believe that if left to his own devices, he'd rather be the explosive force of nature that knocks everyone down after they knock him down first.
In response to those repeated trips to the canvas, he became a more technical – and more boring – fighter and that has hurt his cause. Plus, Gamboa hasn't fought in more than a year and in that fight, he won but didn't look good against Darleys Perez.
At age 32, Gamboa's time is starting to run short. So if he's going to fulfill his considerable potential, he has to do it now. The feeling here, however, is that he'll fall short before what promises to be a pumped-up hometown crowd for the champion.
Record: 8-4 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: As athletically gifted as Yuriorkis Gamboa is, it's hard to look past his bouts of inactivity and his technical deficiencies when heading into this fight with Terence Crawford. When Gamboa is on, he's one of the most exciting fighters to watch.
He can punch from a variety of angles with power in both hands. Had this fight taken place in 2011, I wouldn't have had a problem picking Gamboa to possibly score a knockout. However, Crawford is quietly becoming one of boxing's most disciplined and technically sound fighters.
He's also taller and uses his length well and for those reasons, I can see him defeating Gamboa, who has allowed lesser opponents to hang around far too long. In a match like this, Gamboa cannot afford rounds where he spends a lot of time doing nothing.
It will take a complete performance from Gamboa that finds him upright for 12 rounds and fighting every minute of every round to win this fight. But due to his sporadic schedule, I just don't see that happening.
Combine that with his penchant to touch the canvas and you have a fighter who could find himself down on the cards by the mid-to-late rounds. Crawford's consistency, his sound defense and boxing IQ should give him the advantage.
Record: 14-4 [Last pick: Alexander UD 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: Terence Crawford has proven himself just about as much at the championship level in the past year as the stagnant Yuriorkis Gamboa has during the past four years. Gamboa won’t be able to get by in this difficult fight on ability alone.
Gamboa hasn’t boxed in more than a year and Crawford is bigger, a good enough puncher to check Gamboa's shaky chin and won’t squander an opportunity to take his career to the next level on a big stage in his hometown.
Record: 6-1 [Last pick: Alexander UD 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I think Terence Crawford's style presents a problem for Yuriorkis Gamboa in that he's a switch-hitter. He can give the slick Gamboa different angles, bouncing between orthodox and southpaw.
And as Michael Farenas showed in 2012, the Cuban can be hurt with the straight left hand. Add the hometown crowd providing Crawford with some extra adrenaline and if he can find a way to blunt Gamboa's free-flowing combinations, I think the Omaha man does enough to win on points.
Record: 5-1 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: Good fight, excellent match-up, love the site. Exact same undefeated record, how often do you get that? When Yuriorkis Gamboa was coming up, I saw him as a likely superstar in the sport. Gamboa's inactivity, though, has certainly mitigated against that becoming a reality.
Gamboa still has a lot going for him including natural gifts, a good punch and the fact that he is exciting. However, he is going to need all the sharpness he can harness against a rising star who is only getting better. How sharp can Gamboa be having not fought in a year and only once in the last year and-a-half?
Not sharp enough to beat a much taller, much sharper fighter and hometown favorite. Both fighters have holes in their defense, so I wouldn't be surprised to see each guy hit the deck. In the end, though, Terence Crawford will outbox Gamboa and take a unanimous decision in what should be an entertaining fight.
Record: 13-6 [Last pick: Alexander TKO 9 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I am not crazy about Terence Crawford's stance-switching, safety-first style but I am pretty sure he has more than enough to pull the mild upset here.
Yuriorkis Gamboa's inactivity and lack of pop at this weight will make the difference against a fighter who has the hometown advantage – as well as youth – on his side.
It will take all of Gamboa's awesome experience to pull this one off but I believe he will fall short, eventually, and that Crawford will earn a solid points victory.
Record: 2-2 [Last pick: Sergio Martinez TKO 11 Miguel Cotto]
Terence Crawford late-round KO Yuriorkis Gamboa: So, why would I pick against the hometown kid? I'm not. Even though they have the same record, one is on the way up while the other is just treading water.
Wasn't it just a few years ago that the boxing industry was touting the Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa as a "can't miss"? So, what happened? You tell me.
Now it is Terence Crawford's turn to be the next best thing. Boxing at home should provide Crawford with the opportunity to shine against a foe who is no longer invincible.
Record: 9-2 [Last pick: Martinez W 12 Cotto]
Yuriokis Gamboa W 12 Terence Crawford: I'm picking Yuriorkis Gamboa to win a close decision over Terence Crawford. Gamboa is the more talented fighter but ring rust could be a problem.
Crawford is fighting at home, so a close decision could go his way. I see Gamboa utilizing his superior boxing technique to get off to a lead. Crawford will rally late but Gamboa will hang on for the win.
Record: 14-5 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I like Terence Crawford in this one. Yuriorkis Gamboa hasn't looked good in so long that I can't tell what he has left. Crawford, while not exactly beating murderer's row, has been active against decent competition.
Combined with the hometown advantage, I expect Crawford to outwork Gamboa down the stretch to take a close but deserved decision. So I'm picking Crawford by a decision.
Record: 13-4 [Last pick: Cotto W 12 Martinez]
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I think Terence Crawford will shine on his biggest stage. I just feel like his size and all his tools will come into play and he will be able to outslick Yuriorkis Gamboa over 12 rounds.
Record: 4-3 [Last pick: Martinez W 12 Cotto]
Yuriorkis Gamboa KO Terence Crawford: I should be picking Terence Crawford here but I think Yuriorkis Gamboa is being slept on. His best nights have been when he fought with something to prove. He has that here with better athleticism and explosiveness.
Record: 10-8 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
Yuriorkis Gamboa UD 12 Terence Crawford: I know Terence Crawford is a very good all-around fighter who has been active. I know Yuriorkis Gamboa has made a mess of his career with his inactivity.
Still, I almost always go with the fighter who I believe is the more talented and that would be Gamboa. I don't think he'll have an easy time but I think he'll win a clear decision.
Record: 10-4 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I like Terence Crawford. I do, man. I like him as a fighter and I see him winning this fight. I can't wait to see that fight, actually. Yuriorkis Gamboa has been boxing more lately and doing well in that regard.
But Gamboa hasn't been running into shots and I feel that Crawford's transition between boxing and using his power is a lot smoother than Gamboa's. Gamboa's a good boxer and he can use his power but I feel that he's been getting in trouble during that transition.
Sometimes, he forgets about his boxing when he comes at you. He's obviously got a lot of experience from his amateur boxing background but I feel that Crawford is going to pull this one out.
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I have a feeling the time off is going to hurt Yuriorkis Gamboa. Terence Crawford is more technically sound than all the fighters Gamboa has faced. Crawford will win a 12-round, unanimous decision.
Record: 3-3 [Last pick: Gary RussellJr. SD 12 Vasyl Lomachenko]
Terence Crawford KO 10 Yuriorkis Gamboa: This may be Terence Crawford’s crossover fight. He's younger and seems ready to take this step in someone like Yuriorkis Gamboa, who has a ton of experience. I'm going with the rising star, Crawford, by late-round stoppage.
Record: 7-0 [Last pick: Juan Manuel Marquez W 12 Mike Alvarado]
Yuriorkis Gamboa W 12 Terence Crawford: I have Terence Crawford as one of the most live underdogs of the year and I really think he's in this fight all the way to the end. I wouldn't feel comfortable risking money on the outcome.
But my feeling right now is that Yuriorkis Gamboa comes through somehow with the better-landed shots and wins a close and maybe even controversial decision.
I think Crawford will force Gamboa to dig a little deeper than he's had to before but that he will, in fact, do so and come through a real test and get the win.
Record: 9-5 [Last pick: Alexander UD 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: I like Terence "Bud" Crawford in this one by decision. Crawford is simply the best lightweight boxer in the world. He reminds me of a smaller Michael Nunn, being very versatile and seeming to have his head on straight.
Yuriorkis Gamboa has become a low-stock, undefeated former champion due to his inconsistencies in and out of the ring. Gamboa is not the force he was at 126 anymore and Crawford is the man to hand him his first loss.
Record: 4-0 [Last pick: Cotto TKO Martinez]
Bradley Starks, guest/fan, Novato, Calif.
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: Terence Crawford has all the advantages going into his fight with Yuriorkis Gamboa. He's been more active, has better fundamentals and he's the natural lightweight.
Fast fighters need to stay active to retain their speed and Gamboa, who is easily the faster of the two, has had only three fights in the last 30 months. It has been 12 months since Gamboa's last outing.
Combine that with shaky whiskers and his propensity to keep his hands down while frenetically darting in and out and in my book, "El Ciclon de Guantánamo" has too huge a mountain to climb in order to be victorious.
That being said, I wouldn't be surprised to see both men taste the canvas before the final bell rings. If Gamboa had been as active as Crawford has been the last couple of years, I'd make this a pick-'em fight. But he hasn't, so I expect Crawford to win a comfortable decision.
Terence Crawford SD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: Despite the fact that both Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa sport identical 23-0 records with 16 knockouts apiece, the difference in level of opposition is tough to ignore. Gamboa has fought the tougher opponents over his career and it isn't even close.
However, Gamboa has been off for over a year and is at a seven-year age disadvantage against the 26-year-old Crawford. The other factor that will come into play is that the fight is in Crawford's home state of Nebraska, an unlikely home to a major world title fight. I think this fight will be very close.
Crawford figures to have the edge in speed while Gamboa is probably a bigger puncher having a better chance to win inside the distance. I look for a back-and-forth fight that goes to the scorecards with Gamboa doing enough to win. Unfortunately for Gamboa, the fight is in Nebraska and Crawford will eke out a close decision.
Record: 11-3 [Last pick: Alexander UD 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford W 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: Yuriorkis Gamboa is by far the more talented and more explosive of the two with the other being a Terence Crawford who has an educated jab and who is well-schooled.
Crawford hasn't shown too many flaws, unlike the Cuban defector who is his opponent. It should be an interesting a fight but Gamboa will lose a clear-cut decision.
Record: 12-5 [Last pick: W 10 Soto Karass]
Terence Crawford UD 12 Yuriorkis Gamboa: When Yuriorkis Gamboa came on the scene years ago, most people were convinced we were seeing the start of something special. Incredible speed, crushing power and the ability to come back from his defensive flaws. But it's been a while since Gamboa has shown us that dynamo that Top Rank CEO Bob Arum initially had marinating.
After increased inactivity and ho-hum performances against the likes of Michael Farenas and Darleys Perez, Gamboa has turned from exclamation point into question mark. Terrence Crawford has been answering questions, quietly turning in impressive outings with his most recent victory against Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland.
There's little to complain about when it comes to Crawford's style of fighting. He's got great handspeed, excellent movement and an informed defense that can leave opponents frustrated. With Crawford and Gamboa meeting in Omaha with identical records, we have the classic "Somebody's 'O' has got to go" situation. This fight seems to be following an excellent year of pick-'em-type match-ups.
Do we go with the Cuban dynamo who obviously has the talent but seems to be lacking in motivation? Or do we go with the Midwestern up-and-comer who's been grinding away with regular activity and not lacking in the skills department himself? In the end, I'm going with Crawford, whose technical skills and athletic ability should be able to outpoint a Gamboa, who relies on physical gifts to overcome defensive flaws.
Record: 8-6 [Last pick: Alexander W 10 Soto Karass]
By a landslide, 21-to-4, the insiders favor Terence Crawford to successfully defend his WBO lightweight title against Yuriorkis Gamboa.