Monday, March 27, 2023  |


Yuriorkis Gamboa replaces injured Robinson Castellanos in fight against Jason Sosa


Yuriorkis Gamboa, in a stroke of good fortune, is back on HBO after a debilitating loss.

The Olympic gold medalist, who appears to be well past his prime, received the call Monday to fight Jason Sosa in a 10-round junior lightweight bout on November 25 after Robinson Castellanos withdrew with an undisclosed injury.

Ironically, it was Castellanos who scored a seventh-round stoppage of Gamboa in May to effectively end the Cuban’s reign as a relevant fighter. But as always in boxing, one victory could change Gamboa’s future.

“A win over Sosa on HBO could push me back into title contention,” said Gamboa (27-2, 17 knockouts) who once was celebrated as an explosive puncher who unified titles at featherweight. “I’m a fighter with many aspects and dimensions, and that’s what I’ll bring in my fight against Sosa.

“For my last fight, I wasn’t prepared well. This time I will be very much prepared so I can walk away with my hand raised.”

Now 35, Gamboa no longer resembles the whirlwind who threw blistering shots from all angles and earned himself the moniker El Ciclon de Guantánamo. His last stand was a ninth-round stoppage loss to Terence Crawford in an entertaining 2014 scrap.

Inactivity plagued him afterward, and following the setback to Castellanos, he struggled to outpoint Mexican club fighter Alexis Reyes in August.

But in Sosa, Gamboa isn’t exactly facing the sport’s elite. Instead, he’ll meet an ordinary fighter who packs a big punch, and little else.

Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) was completely outclassed by Lomachenko in April, and before that, was dominated by Nicholas Walters but somehow pulled out a disputed draw.

The Camden, New Jersey, native does own solid wins over Javier Fortuna and Stephen Smith, but at his best, Gamboa would toy with a fighter like Sosa. Only it appears that version of Gamboa no longer exists.

“People think we have an easier opponent in Gamboa since Castellanos beat him, but we’re not buying into that,” said Sosa. “Maybe Gamboa didn’t take Castellanos seriously. We expect to see the very best Gamboa on November 25.

“Having said that, this is not about who we are fighting; this is about why. We are fighting to make Puerto Rico proud after what all the people who live there have been through recently.”

If Gamboa can turn back the clock for one night, he should be able to extend his career, at least for a little while.