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Lopez, Gamboa win big over the weekend, but they won't be fighting each other just yet!

This past Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York, undefeated featherweights Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez scored big wins in separate showcases. 

Gamboa stopped Rogers Mtagwa, best known for giving Lopez all he could handle in a 122lb title challenge last fall, in two rounds to retain his WBA featherweight championship.  In the main event, Lopez stopped defending champion Steve Luevano in seven rounds to win the WBO featherweight title in impressive fashion.  One would believe that the two rising stars are on a collision course to meet one another very soon, but promoter Bob Arum says, not so fast. 

In an interview conducted by Greg Leon at Boxingtalk earlier this week, when asked about HBO's interest in a Lopez vs. Gamboa showdown, Arum was quoted as saying, "Put them against all of the tough featherweights, have them beat all of the tough featherweights, and then make a big event, maybe at the Meadowlands, in the spring of next year. Where I can put 30,000 people in the place, that's doing my job as a promoter of these two fighters. That's what, as a promoter, I have to do. It's not necessarily pleasing the sports writers, or pleasing HBO, or pleasing the fans, who want instant gratification, it's about positioning the fight so that it makes the most money for two wonderful young fighters, for when they finally fight each other."

Aside from Chris John, who is universally recognized as the featherweight champion of the world, who else is there to fight in the featherweight division?  Most of the big name talent and competition is campaigning in either the junior featherweight, junior lightweight, or lightweight divisions respectively.  Many fans and experts longed to see Lopez fight Celestino Caballero, the unified IBF and WBA junior featherweight champion, prior to moving up to 126lbs.  That fight never happened at 122lbs, so perhaps Caballero would be obliged to chase Lopez up to featherweight and make things more interesting in that weight class. 

Other than John or Caballero, Lopez and Gamboa would appear to have nobody else to fight but one another.  This commentator understands the promoter's desire to make as much money as possible as well as his vested interest in his fighter's monetary compensation, but it is we the fans who pay to see the fighters perform.  As a result we the fans deserve gratification, period, whether it is instant or not.

A fight between Lopez and Gamboa would likely produce an exciting knockdown, drag out type of affair.  I still have vivid memories of the hurt and staggered Lopez who was trying to survived heart and guts alone in rounds 11 and 12 against Mtagwa. Replace Mtagwa with Gamboa, and Lopez could potentially find himself in serious trouble. Gamboa has talent as well as a gradually improving skill set, but Lopez is no pushover as he showed against Mtagwa.  He can also punch, as was illustrated against Luevano.

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