I’m dubbing this week “Yuriorkis Gamboa Week.” That’s because my favorite prospect in the whole wide world is fighting Saturday night, and I’m making it my mission to convince you to get your eyeballs on the 26-year-old Cuban, even though, I warn you, they might pop out when you do.
Gamboa, a 130-pounder, may not end up being as good as any of the three boxers mentioned in the headline there. But stylistically, he resembles an amalgamation of them — Tyson’s fearless charges, Jones’ dangling left hand and sneaky power, Mayweather’s quickness and defensive reflexes.
And, hey, he may turn out to be truly special. He’s 9-0 in his pro career with eight knockouts, many of them blowouts of fighters that were supposed to test him. He’s done all of this in a little more than a year as a pro. His competition in his young career has a stellar 149-26-6 record, combined. Another deservedly celebrated prospect, Amir Khan — who has been advanced in competition too quickly for some tastes — fought opponents with a combined 106-96-10 record through nine fights, if that tells you something. Coming out of Cuban’s legendary amateur system, Gamboa has approximately 400 amateur fights under his belt.
The HBO card featuring Gamboa has a pair of other prospects who are also corking good fun to watch, and they’ll get some attention in this spot this week, too. But for me, Gamboa’s a little like the cult rock band I discovered and wanted to share with everyone. Sure, I’m not alone on the bandwagon. Sure, I could be making a huge mistake touting someone so new to the pro fight game, and my hyperbole may make me a hypocrite since I’ve been so hard on trainer Emmanuel Steward for over-hyping his boxers. But Gamboa hasn’t been tested yet, and he just looks light years ahead of everyone who was supposed to test him. Darling Jimenez is the latest supposed test to step up to the plate.
Watch what happened in Gamboa’s ESPN debut in February when he fought Jonnie Edwards, who not that long ago beat Eric Aiken, who went on to win a title belt. Gamboa made it look so, so, easy: