With Emanuel Steward set to become the new lead trainer for Cuban star and top featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa, the 67-year-old Hall of Fame trainer and HBO boxing analyst spoke to RingTV.com, and noted that he believes that a fight between Gamboa and lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios isn't far off.
"That's the guy, Brandon Rios, who they're saying that Gamboa wants to go after. That's a great fight right there," said Steward. "That would be the ultimate, and I believe that's one that HBO is trying to build up to."
Gamboa (21-0, 16 KO) said after his September 10 win over Daniel Ponce De Leon that he was interested in moving up in weight, even mentioning Manny Pacquiao as a potential opponent. Rios (28-0, 21 KO) is just slightly more realistic, and with both promoted by Top Rank, it's definitely a fight that could come into play.
Right now, Rios is gearing up for a December 3 fight with John Murray on the Cotto vs Margarito pay-per-view. He's in an interesting position with Top Rank at 135 pounds. They've talked about him fighting guys coming up two divisions (Gamboa), and even about him possibly moving up two divisions to fight Pacquiao sometime in the next couple of years. There is some question as to how long Rios will be staying at 135, even it means just going to 140 for a few fights and then 147.
Now, I doubt that Rios vs Gamboa actually does happen. Top Rank likes to talk about fights like this as a way to get people talking about both guys, but they rarely deliver. Gamboa is an HBO headliner without Rios. Rios is on his way to being an HBO headliner without Gamboa. The new regime at HBO is soon to be headed by Ken Hershman, who may indeed start changing the expectations the network has for fights they'll buy. If that's the case, more fights like this actually could start happening.
But let's say it did happen soon, with both at 135 pounds. Who do you like there? Rios is a bigger, stronger guy, but Gamboa is so fast, so talented. I think it's kind of an ultimate style matchup. Does Rios bang his way to victory? Does Gamboa outclass or even embarrass him?