Haney vs. Gamboa – Can Yuriorkis pull off an upset on Saturday?
By Dan Ambrose: WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney is defending his title this Saturday, November 7th, against Yuriorkis Gamboa live on DAZN at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) will be turning 39-years-old next month on December 23, and he’s being used as an opponent for the 21-year-old Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) to showcase his skills, to let boxing fans compare him to Gervonta Davis, and to let him get some rust out.
Haney hasn’t fought since last year in November 2019 with his 12 round decision win over Alfredo Santiago. He suffered a shoulder injury in that fight that required surgery to repair.
Haney’s management obviously didn’t want to put him in against someone a little too good in his first fight back. Hence, they’ve chosen Gamboa, who is coming off of surgery of his own on his Achilles that he injured in his 12th round knockout loss to Tank Davis last December.
Haney wants to use Gamboa to look good to try and show the boxing world that he’s the #1 fighter in the lightweight division.
Gamboa being used as a foil for Haney
“Gamboa was terrific, but his career is passed,” said Atlas to THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas. “The house fighter [Haney], and the guy with the power behind him, isn’t it funny that we heard all about his shoulder surgery, but we didn’t hear about Gamboa is coming off of surgery.
“We heard a lot about Haney is coming off of surgery, but we didn’t hear a lot about his opponent. The reason you didn’t hear about it is because the future is with Haney.
“They’re not thinking about Gamboa. Right now, Gamboa is a foil. He’s a guy that is being used as an opponent for Haney coming off surgery because he’s 17-years younger,” Atlas said.
There is some risk involved in Haney fighting Gamboa, as the Cuban can make him look bad if he doesn’t dominate.
What’s disturbing is that the former IBF/WBA featherweight champion Gamboa STILL has better hand speed and power than the 21-year-old Haney. Even though Gamboa’s best weight class during his career is at 126, he still has superior power and speed to Haney.
What Gamboa doesn’t have are these things:
- Punch resistance
- A-side push
While Haney isn’t a big puncher and he’s not particularly fast of hand, he still has enough power to hurt Gamboa, who is chinny. It’s safe to assume that Gamboa will be knocked down at some point in the fight.
If the fight goes to the scorecards, Gamboa has very little chance of winning a decision unless he does something spectacular.
Atlas: Yuriorkis is a shot fighter
“Gamboa is 38, and Haney is 21. Gamboa is a shot fighter,” said Atlas. “I like him a lot. Fast hands, he was an Olympian, a gold medal from the great, great, great Cuban national team. It was the best amateur team out there.
“It was a gold medalist; he was an undefeated world champion. He [Gamboa] was a smaller guy, a featherweight, and he’s moved up. And he had really great hand speed, a lot of heart, no doubt about it, but his ship has sailed.
“His day is gone. This is a guy in his last ten fights; he’s been dropped eleven times. Here’s a guy, his chin isn’t dependable, but his heart is, but he’s not dependable.
“He’s coming off surgery [on his Achilles]. In his last fight, he hung in there and showed a lot of heart against [Gervonta] Davis. Davis didn’t look good that night, Gervonta Davis, but he got stopped in the 12th round.
— Devin Haney (@Realdevinhaney) November 3, 2020
“He [Gamboa] was on the floor three times, and he got hurt. So could you give him a lot of credit? He hurt his leg. So somehow, he got to the 12th round. Part of it is Davis didn’t look good, and part of it was the heart of Gamboa,” Atlas said.
When Gamboa was younger, he was the one that was being given the push that Haney is receiving now. Unfortunately, Gamboa missed out on a big fight against Juan Manuel Lopez that Top Rank made a mistake of marinating for a little long.
Lopez ended up getting beaten by Orlando Salido, which ruined what would have been a massive payday for Yuriorkis.
Gamboa hasn’t looked like the same guy he used to since he left the 126-pound division. Once Gamboa moved up to 135, that’s when he started to struggle big time.
Oddly, Gamboa didn’t attempt to return to the 126-pound division because it was clear from day one that he didn’t possess the chin to campaign at 135.
Haney’s people want a safe fight
“Why are Haney’s people picking Gamboa after a year back from surgery, but there’s no mystery why they’re making it,” Atlas continued. “When you’re coming back from that, you want a safe fight.
“Here’s the problem. Everyone does that. Okay, they found a safe fight, but usually, it’s not a safe fight for a world title challenge.
“Usually, it’s a safe fight where you come back in a 10-rounder [non-title match], you do it off the TV, you get that safe fight, and now you’re ready to go.
“It’s all good. Usually, you’re not arrogant or risky enough to come back in a world title. It’s not supposed to be a safe fight in a world title fight. That’s the thing. Am I trying to hurt somebody’s promotion?
“No. I don’t think it can be a competitive fight. Gamboa has had 33 pro fights. By the way, he’s been knocked out three times. All of his losses have been by stoppage. But he had about 400 amateur fights,” said Teddy about Yuriorkis having a lot of wear & tear on him.
You can’t call Gamboa an entirely safe fight for Haney because he doesn’t have more power and speed than the soft guys that Devin has been facing since he turned pro.
Even at 38, Gamboa still is vastly superior physically to the pedestrian level opposition that Haney has been matched against.
It’s time for Gamboa to retire
“This is a guy where everything that made him great has been used up,” Teddy continued about Gamboa. “It’s not there anymore. All the physical assets and everything else that made him so great that separate him from everybody.
“They’ve had their day, and I just think this is going to be a mismatch. I can’t see Gamboa at this point in his career [winning the fight].
“Not only do I see this, Haney’s people see this. Why do you think why they’re taking him? That’s why they’re taking him. I talk about miles on the odometer, but I think it’s time to park the car in the garage,” Atlas said about the aging Gamboa.
“I’m not trying to stop someone from making a living. He’s had his chance to make a living. This is a dangerous business, to begin with, and there comes a time to park the car in the garage while there’s still an engine in the car.
“I know it’s sad and tough, but you need to be honest before it becomes very sad and too late,” said Atlas.
Yurirokis still has enough left in his tank to continue fighting for a little while longer. If he makes Haney struggle to win, it’s going to open the doors for other paydays against top fighters.
The kind of money that Gamboa can make as a B-side opponent is the type that most boxing fans would drool over. With Gamboa’s power and speed, he’s capable of being a lot of the top contenders, and maybe even an email champion as well.
We’ll see on Saturday what kind of fighter Haney is. He looked terrible against Alfredo Santiago last November, and he’s clearly not in the talent class as Terofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis, or Vasily Lomachenko.
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