Gamboa vs. Cuellar, Rigondeaux vs. Ceja & Barthelemy vs. Easter Jr. being planned
By Dan Ambrose: Big fights are being planned for Yuriorkis Gamboa and Guillermo Rigondeaux for the summer, according to manager Luis DeCubas. These are fights that Premier Boxing Champions are working on.
Former IBF/WBA featherweight champion Gamboa (29-2, 17 KOs) would be facing former WBA ‘regular’ 126 lb champion Jesus Andres Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs), former WBA/WBO super bantamweight champion Rigondeaux (18-1, 12 KOs) against the hard hitting former WBC 122 lb champion Julio Ceja (32-2, 28 KOs), former IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. (21-1, 14 KOs) against former two division world champion Rances Barthelemy (27-1, 14 KOs).
Here are the planned fights:
– Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Jesus Cuellar: This is a toss-up fight. Gamboa was a good fighter during his prime, but he’s been fighting on irregular basis for so many years. It makes impossible to know what Gamboa has left. What we do know is Gamboa isn’t a natural lightweight, and he’s not nearly the same fighter in this weight class as he was when he was fighting at featherweight. Cuellar can punch, and he’s arguably a better fighter than Robinson Castellanos (24-14), who stopped Gamboa in the seventh round in May 2017. In Castellanos’ two fights since that win, he’s been knocked out by Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Jezzrel Corrales. For boxing fans that say Castellanos’ is a sensational fighter, and believe me there were a lot of them saying that after his win over Gamboa, the reality is he’s not. Gamboa is clearly a shot fighter, who doesn’t belong fighting at lightweight at this point in his career. He should be at featherweight if he could still make weight for that division.
– Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Julio Ceja: The 38-year-old Rigondeaux is taking a considerable risk in facing the powerful Ceja, 29, who recent Gervonta Davis opponent Hugo Ruiz in the fifth round in August 2015. Although Ruiz came back to knockout Ceja in the first round in their rematch in February 2016, he still remains a very dangerous puncher. Ceja stopped former bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno in the third round in May 2017. However, in Ceja’s last fight, he was knocked out in the fourth round by Franklin Manzanilla last year in May 2018. Manzanilla was beaten by WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas last month by a 12 round unanimous decision on February 9. Manzanilla dropped Vargas hard in the second round after catching him with a powerful left hook to the jaw. You can understand why Ceja was knocked out by Manzanilla. That guy can really punch. If Rigondeauz doesn’t get to Ceja early, he could be stopped by him.
– Robert Easter Jr. vs. Rances Barthelemy: Easter Jr. lost his IBF 135 lb title last July to WBC champion Mikey Garcia by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision. Easter Jr. looked completely over-matched in that fight. Barthelemy, 32, might have too much natural size for Easter Jr. Barthelemy has been fighting at light welterweight recently, and he decided to move back down to 135 after he was pounded by Kiryl Relikh in losing a 12 round decision to him. Relikh had too much power and size for the light hitting Barthelemy. Easter Jr. will be more to Barthelemy’s liking.
Those are a lot of good fights if they can get made. Obviously, the 37-year-old Gamboa is getting up there in age, and he’s clearly not the fighter that he once at his age. However, Gamboa has won his last three fights at lightweight in beating Miguel Beltran Jr., Jason Sosa and Alexis Reyes. Gamboa is a good fighter when he’s active. He’s not been as active as he should have been in the last seven years of his career. Since 2012, Gamboa has fought only 10 times. The last four years, Gamboa has fought six times. That’s not nearly active enough for him to have stayed sharp, and relevant at super featherweight and lightweight.
For the Gamboa-Cuellar fight to have a chance of taking place, Cuellar will need to win his next fight against journeyman Carlos Padilla (16-9-1, 10 KOs) this Saturday night on the undercard of the Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas card on Premier Boxing Champions on Fox at the Dignity Health Sports Park, in Carson, California. Although the 33-year-old Cuellar has lost his last two fights to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and Abner Mares, it’s unlikely that he’ll get beaten by the 29-year-old Colombian Padilla. Cuellar is a good fighter. It was a case of him fighting guys that were too talented for him in Tank Davis and Mares. They exposed the Argentinean Cuellar, showing his limits as a fighter.