Gamboa to fight Barros in Germany
The hunt for featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa's next opponent is over.
Gamboa will defend his title for the third time against Jonathan Victor Barros of Argentina when he makes his return to Germany on March 27, Top Rank's Carl Moretti told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Gamboa, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist before defecting, turned pro in Germany and fought five of his first six professional bouts there before moving to Miami and fighting regularly in the United States.
Moretti, along with Top Rank's Bob Arum and Todd duBoef, were scheduled to meet with HBO executives in New York on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, Gamboa's future. They will talk about a high-profile June or July fight for Gamboa in Miami, Moretti said.
But first, of course, Gamboa needs to defend his title against the unknown Barros (28-0-1, 16 KOs), 26, who will be fighting his first name opponent and fighting outside of South America for the first time.
"We don't know a lot about him, but any time you fight a fighter from Argentina, you'll probably get a crude guy with a decent chin who is a wild puncher, so there is always some danger," Moretti said. "I know Gamboa is an excellent talent and this is another step as we move forward."
One of the scenarios HBO and Top Rank are discussing is a split-site doubleheader in which Gamboa would defend his title at one location and fellow titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez would defend his version of the 126-pound title in his native Puerto Rico. Top Rank hopes to build toward an eventual meeting between Gamboa (17-0, 15 KOs) and Lopez, who have fought their past two bouts in New York on the same cards.
Gamboa retained his title with a second-round blowout of Rogers Mtagwa, while Lopez stopped Steven Luevano in the seventh round to claim his title on a Jan. 23 HBO doubleheader.
The reason for Gamboa's return to Germany is because Ahmet Öner of Arena Box, who co-promotes Gamboa with Top Rank, is kicking off a new deal with German television network Sat.1 and he wanted to feature a world title fight on the debut card in Hamburg.
"This will be our special highlight for our new TV partner," Öner said. "Of course, it is not easy to bring a superstar like Gamboa to Germany, but he is my fighter so I am very proud to bring him back to where his pro career started three years ago. When Gamboa will be back in Hamburg it will feel like a circle is complete.
"I know that he has lots of friends here and is happy to return to Germany. But this will be an exception. Gamboa's main market is in the USA now. He will be in Germany for this one fight only and then continue his great career in the big venues in the States."
Moretti said that although Gamboa-Barros won't be televised live in the United States, it could air on tape-delay on "Top Rank Live," the company's series which airs three times monthly on Fox Sports and Fox Sports en Espanol.
The card in Hamburg will also feature a heavyweight rematch between Denis Bakhtov and Steffen Kretschmann.
"This will be our biggest show in Germany so far," Öner said. "With SAT.1 we have finally found a major TV partner who helps us to bring great fights to a big audience. Of course, a German TV station wants to present German fighters. That is why we have decided to feature the heavyweight clash between Steffen Kretschmann and Denis Bakhtov as one of two main events."
Also on the card are former cruiserweight titlist Juan Carlos Gomez (44-2, 35 KOs), who will be fighting for the first time since he was knocked out in the ninth round challenging heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko 11 months ago, and former middleweight title challenger Mahir Oral (27-2-2, 10 KOs), who has won two in a row since he was stopped in the 10th round by then-titleholder Arthur Abraham in June 2009.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.