Juanma Vs. Gamboa Could Finally Happen At 130-Pounds Says Arum

By James Slater: Seemingly on a collision course are rival unbeaten featherweight champions Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico and Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba. For months now, fans have been talking about what will happen when the two lethal-hitting yet sometimes vulnerable warriors get it on. And promoter Bob Arum has been listening.

Speaking recently at a press conference ahead of “Juanma’s” defence tomorrow night against the capable and perhaps dangerous Orlando Salido, 34-11-2(22), Arum said the 27-year-old southpaw who has already captured belts at 122 and 126-pounds, wants to move up to 130-pound after he’s beaten Salido. Once he’s managed to win a belt at super-featherweight, Lopez’ plan is to face Gamboa, who will presumably move up in weight himself, at the new weight. But when?

Arum said he is certainly willing to put the sought-after fight on, but only when it will be a big enough deal to attract a huge Pay-Per-View audience. Arum clearly wants this battle of the power punchers to pull in many millions of dollars. And though many fans (this one included) would love to see Gamboa-Lopez happen next (after Lopez has gotten past Salido, assuming of course that he does so), it looks like we will have to wait a little longer yet.

Lopez, 30-0(27) may have some problems with Mexico’s Salido (who took Gamboa the full 12-rounds in his last fight back in September of last year, even scoring a knockdown over the Cuban defector), but he is a big favourite to win - maybe he will become the first man since way back in 2000 to halt the 30-year-old known as “Siri.” But can Lopez then move up and successfully challenge for a belt at 130? With all due respect to the current champions at 130, yes he can.

Would any fan make Mzonke Fana, the IBF champion, a favourite to beat Lopez? How about Ricky Burns, the WBO boss? Or Takashi Uchiyama, the current WBA ruler? Or WBC champ Takahiro Ao? Most fans would almost certainly look at Lopez’ chances of dethroning either guy as good to great. And, if by this time Gamboa has also added a 130-pound strap to the two belts he has already won at featherweight, the fight that has built and built would be so close to taking place.

It may be interesting that Lopez has spoken of wanting to move up in weight in his next fight after the Salido challenge - is “Juanma,” a fighter who outgrew super-bantamweight, struggling now to make 126? And if he is, could he be in trouble tomorrow night? Make no mistake, if either Lopez or Gamboa were to lose before their rumble, the clash we all want to see would lose some of its lustre. This is perhaps one of the reasons fans are in a hurry to see the two unbeaten stars fight now, while they are still sporting perfect records.

I think Lopez will win tomorrow, probably on points. Then, as long as neither Lopez nor Gamboa’s move up to 130 goes awry, we WILL get to see two of today’s most exciting lower-weight fighters get it on.

Article posted on 15.04.2011

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