Gamboa vs. Lopez—Finally?

By Cain Bradley on July 20, 2017
Gamboa vs. Lopez—Finally?
It was Orlando Salido who scuppered Bob Arum's best laid plans, not for the first time.

There may have been a better time for a bout between them, but it also makes a whole lot of sense now. It could be a make or break bout…

It was 2011 when arguably the most anticipated clash in the boxing world was Juan Manuel Lopez taking on Yuriorkis Gamboa. Both were world champions promoted by Bob Arum in the same weight class.

In January 2010, Juan Manuel Lopez won the WBO World Featherweight Title, becoming a two-weight world champion. It was his 27th stoppage wins in 30 fights. On the undercard, in the co-main event was Yuriorkis Gamboa retaining his WBA World Featherweight Title against Rogers Mtagwa to take his record to 19-0.

The two men were exciting boxers, made for TV. Both had decorated amateur careers with Gamboa being the 2004 Olympic gold medalist. Both were power punchers who were liable to being knocked down. Gamboa looked one of the speediest boxers on the planet while Lopez had an impressive jab as well as an attitude that made him difficult for anyone.

Arum had plenty of chances to pull the trigger on the fight throughout 2010 and 2011. He chose to let the fight marinate as both fighters became “superstars.” He hoped by letting the two fan bases grow, the fight would be a big pay-per-view draw for him. It was a risky proposition given he was relying on two boxers who fought in a risky style to remain unbeaten.

It was Orlando Salido who scuppered the best laid plans of Bob Arum, not for the first time. Salido climbed off the canvas in a pulsating bout to win by tenth round stoppage. Salido was the busier opponent, constantly working. Lopez was landing cleaner shots using a more tactical approach and was slightly ahead on the cards when it was stopped. The Mexican has since gone 9-3-2 including wins over Juan Manuel Lopez and Vasyl Lomachenko.

For Gamboa, his chance at a big superfight was seemingly gone. He moved up through the weights winning world titles at super featherweight and lightweight. He did finally get his shot at a big fight in 2014. He took on Terence Crawford in what was the second most watched HBO fight of the year.

Both men have attempted to regain their best form since then. Gamboa won three relatively easy bouts but was defeated as heavy favorite against Robinson Castellanos when he quit in his corner. Lopez has gone 5-5 in his last ten fights. The losses have come against world operators in two defeats by Orlando Salido, Francisco Vargas, Jesus Cuellar and Mikey Garcia. His next bout sounds like being a crossroads bout against former top prospect Jayson Velez.

So while there may have been a better time for a bout between Lopez and Gamboa, it also makes a whole lot of sense now. It could be a make or break bout. The winner, given their name value, could become a contender in a stacked weight division. The loser may finally be finished. The best bit of the bout will be the actual bout which looks like being an absolute classic. The skills which made it such a desirable bout still exist. Lopez is still the exciting brawler with power who cannot really take a punch. Gamboa may well have lost some speed but making a lower weight could help him. It has the potential to be a war for the ages. Right now I would make Lopez the favorite. For both their flaws, his mind seems to be the one which would have more desire to win this fight.

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