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Gamboa signs co-promotional deal with Top Rank

19
Jun

Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc. is widely considered to be the best developer of young boxing talent in the sport.

The hall-of-fame promoter’s track record of guiding prospects to prominence reaches back through the last two decades with the most notable examples being Olympians:

Michael Carbajal from the 1988 Games. Oscar De La Hoya from the 1992 Games. Floyd Mayweather from the 1996 Games. Miguel Cotto from the 2000 Games.

All four blue-chip amateurs turned pro with Top Rank and won multiple world titles while with the company.



Yuriorkis Gamboa, the explosive featherweight titleholder from Cuba, has more amateur experience than all four Top Rank success stories as well superior natural ability (save for perhaps Mayweather), but the 2004 Olympic gold medalist didn’t join the Las Vegas-based promotional company to develop his considerable but still-raw talent or even to win world titles.

The 27-year-old boxer-puncher’s promoter Ahmet ├ûner believes he’s done a good job of developing Gamboa from an amateur standout to a solid pro.

“I had him world-ranked before his 10th pro fight,” said ├ûner, who has buided Gamboa through the fighter’s first 15 pro bouts under his German-based Arena-Box Promotion. “He won his first world title in his 15th pro fight. I think I’ve done a good job developing his talent.”

├ûner says it’s the name recognition that De La Hoya and Cotto have, not the world titles, that he wants for his fighter.

“It was my decision to take Yuriorkis to Top Rank because I want to build a fan base for him with the Latin American audience,” ├ûner said. “I don’t have those connections. I could do what the other promoters, like Don King and Golden Boy Promotions, promised me: get HBO dates. I already got two HBO dates for Yuriorkis. All I had to do was make a phone call. There were more HBO dates available for him, but I want to do more with him.

“I want him to tap into the Latino market. I don’t have those connections but I know Bob Arum does.”

Indeed he does. Arum has made the Hispanic boxing fan the core of his business since moving his company from New York city to Las Vegas in the late 1980s. His success with Carbajal, a Mexican-American junior flyweight from Phoenix, Ariz., opened his eyes to the potential of the market; De La Hoya realized that potential beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

Arum’s first step in co-promoting Gamboa with ├ûner is to put the featherweight titleholder on one of his “Latin Fury” shows. The cards, which feature up-and-coming talent on the undercards of shows that are headlined by popular Hispanic fighters, are available on a pay-per-view basis in the U.S. but are on network television in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.

The shows headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Jorge Arce in recent years have garnered TV Azteca some of its biggest weekend ratings, beating out even soccer and novelas.

Gamboa’s first fight under the Top Rank banner will be Latin Fury 10, a Chavez Jr.-headlined card from the resort town of Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico on July 25.

Gamboa (15-0, 13 knockouts) is scheduled to defend his WBA interim featherweight belt against Panama’s Whyber Garcia (22-6, 15 KOs).

Gamboa should make quick work of Garcia, who must hang around a lot at the offices of the Panama-based WBA to be getting another shot at one of their various titles.

Garcia was annihilated in one round by Edwin Valero in a WBA 130-pound title elimination bout in 2006. He suffered a fifth-round decapitation by Jorge Linares in a WBA 130-pound title bout last year.

What Garcia has done to deserve a shot at Gamboa’s interim title is anyone’s guess. At least Gamboa, who possess talent on par with both Valero and Linares, should look spectacular in dispatching him within three rounds.

Then it should be on to bigger and better things.

“I wanted to be a part of Top Rank to initiate a new phase in my career,” Gamboa said through his legal advisor Tony Gonzalez at a Thursday press luncheon in Los Angeles.

He said he wants to be known in all the Latino markets in and outside of the U.S.: Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, the major cities of Texas, as well as Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America.

And Gamboa said he wants to earn his name by fighting worthy opponents.

“My goal is to make history in boxing and to be recognized as one of the greats,” he said. “My final fights in the amateurs were in the featherweight division, so obviously I’m comfortable making this weight, but I turned pro at junior lightweight and I was just as fast and strong. I think I will eventually move up at least two weight classes.

“Top Rank has many good fighters and champions in and around my weight class for me to fight to prove myself.”

This is true. Top Rank promotes Steven Luevano, a current featherweight titleholder, Humberto Soto, a current junior lightweight beltholder, and Valero, who holds the WBC’s lightweight title.

“This is going to be a good relationship,” Arum said at Thursday’s press conference. “In Gamboa you have a fighter who’s not afraid to fight dangerous fighters. He’s the kind of fighter to take the public by the testicles — he comes out fighting, he gets knocked down, he gets up and he destroys his opponent — once you see him, you’ll become a fan.

“My dream fight is to match (Gamboa) with Juan Manuel Lopez at featherweight.”

That showdown is every hardcore fight fan’s dream.

LATIN FURY 10

Chavez Jr., who upheld his longstanding tradition of showing up late for Thursday’s press conference, is scheduled to face Jason Lehoullier (21-1-1, 18 KOs), of Portland, Maine.

Chavez (39-0-1, 29 KOs) has hired the same conditioning specialists that Miguel Cotto employs and will be hold his camp at Abel Sanchez’s gym in Big Bear Lake, Calif.

Is “Junior” finally getting serious about his career?

Hard-punching junior flyweight contender Giovanni Segura (20-1-1, 16 KOs) is also on the card. The WBA’s interim titleholder will defend his belt against Sony Boy Jaro (29-8-6, 18 KOs) of the Philippines.

Lightweight stud Urbano Antillon (26-0, 19 KOs) will open the pay-per-view broadcast in a 10-round bout. The Maywood, Calif. resident does not have an opponent yet.

Arum said that Antillon is “six months away from getting a title shot.”

Homepage photo of Gamboa and Arum taken by Chris Farina-Top Rank

Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]

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