Yuriorkis Gamboa has been reduced to a high-level gatekeeper in the eyes of most fans and pundits, but the 40-year-old Cuban will get another shot at pulling an upset against a younger fighter when he takes on Isaac Cruz in a lightweight bout on the Spence vs Ugas undercard on April 16.
Gamboa (30-4, 18 KO) hasn’t won a fight since 2019, when his remaining speed was way too much for a similarly faded Rocky Martinez. He tore his Achilles in a loss to Gervonta Davis in 2019, and was pretty easily beaten over 12 rounds by Devin Haney in late 2020, the last time we saw Gamboa in the ring.
But he’s coming to the fight against Cruz (22-2-1, 15 KO) with the mindset that he can win, and land another big fight.
“I have a tactical plan. I have a strategy ready to go for whatever happens. I’m ready to go for whatever comes my way and I’m planning to face anything and everything,” he said. “I definitely have the edge in experience but at the same time, I’m going to rely on my preparation. I’m going to rely on the game plan and the strategy that we have put together to be able to fight and win any way we can.”
Gamboa is fully aware of how he’s seen by the boxing world at this point, and is itching to prove the critics and fans wrong.
“I’m going to show everybody that’s watching on TV and that’s watching in the stands that Yuriorkis Gamboa is still here to stay and that Yuriorkis Gamboa can still be the best in the division,” he said. “There’s definitely a lot of people that are overlooking what I still have left in the tank and the quality of fighter that I still am. People are going to see that that’s just noise.”
Gamboa added that if — “when,” of course, in his words — he beats Cruz, he wants a rematch with Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
“I really didn’t feel comfortable with the way that first fight unfolded. I fought with a torn Achilles for 11 rounds but I was still able to withstand everything and get to the finish,” he said. “I need another bite at the apple and I need to show that I have the quality to beat him. I need to fight him while I’m healthy and 100 percent, because that fight will be totally different.”