Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing is suing Yuriorkis Gamboa, who had agreed to accept a reported $1.1 milllion to fight on HBO against Brandon Rios in a battle of unbeatens on April 14. Gamboa now says he finds the big payday unacceptable, so the WBA lightweight title fight is off.
That’s a hellacious payday. Nonito Donaire earned about $300,000 for knocking out Fernando Montiel last year in a similarly glamorous HBO showdown, albeit at bantamweight. Gamboa’s second thoughts can’t be about the money.
But he damn sure should have second thoughts about rising from featherweight to lightweight in one fell swoop to take on the clearly larger Rios.
Gamboa would be the destination opponent for Donaire’s gradual rise to 126 pounds, but even Donaire, the flyweight king not so long ago, might look big against Gamboa at 126.
Gamboa, a muscular specimen, is a bit on the stocky side at 126, let alone at 135. Rios, stoutly built himself, is more than two inches taller than Gamboa.
Donaire, who lives in San Mateo, struggled to get down to 112 and 115, but his current division of 122 seems about right for the time being, the Filipino Flash told nextooze.com’s Dennis d’Source Guillermo this week. He’s not rushing to 126.
There aren’t any recent photos of Gamboa alongside Rios because Gamboa didn’t show up in California last week for a press function. But Rios and Donaire are buddies, and there’s no doubt which is the larger man. Donaire is ranked No. 4 in the world pound-for pound, but he says he wouldn’t dare fight Rios any time soon.
“I would like to fight the best guys out there,” Donaire told d’Source, “but I’m at 122 right now. I don’t want to skip to a division where I know I’m small. And I’m still small at 122. That’s why I’m doing kettle bells, weight lifting and that kind of stuff.”
Gamboa’s gamble was an appealing one. In a pound-for-pound sense, the featherweight Gamboa would outrank the lightweight Rios by quite a lot. But with each weighing 135 pounds and Gamboa’s backside having some acquaintance with the canvas, fighting Rios could have ruined Gamboa’s mojo, or worse.
It was 50 years ago this month that his fellow Cuban, Benny “Kid” Paret, was battered into a fatal coma against welterweight champion Emile Griffith, just three months after Paret’s brutal beating at the hands of middleweight champion Gene Fullmer.
You can’t blame Top Rank for suing or HBO for pulling out of the promotion, which now will feature Rios defending his title at the Mandalay Bay against the obscure Richard Abril (17-2-1, eight knockouts).
But there was reason to be skeptical about Gamboa at 135, although the betting line was even money. That bout had mismatch written all over it, and Gamboa seems to have reached that conclusion.