Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Michael Farenas: Preview, Prediction for WBA Title Fight

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

Gamboa is looking to make a big return on Saturday night.
Gamboa is looking to make a big return on Saturday night.Hunter Martin/Getty Images

It's been some year for Yuriorkis Gamboa.

After a year of inactivity riddled with contract and promotional problems, the 30-year-old Cuban star is finally set to return to the ring on Dec. 8 in the Las Vegas against the Philippines Michael Farenas in a bout for the interim WBA junior lightweight championship.

Gamboa (21-0 16 KO) was originally scheduled to face Miguel Beltran Jr. for the vacant title, but the fight had to be scrapped when Beltran's camp said he wouldn't be ready due to lingering effects from his September war with Rocky Martinez.

Instead he will face the relatively unknown Michael Farenas (30-3-3 26 KO) who is perhaps best known as a protege of Filipino legend Gerry Penalosa.

But Gamboa is just thankful to be fighting again, and for a world title, after spending more than a year fighting in a courtroom instead of in a ring.

The trouble began for Gamboa after he put in arguably his best performance to date, a dominant eighth-round technical decision over current WBC featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon.

It was the type of dominant performance that was expected to elevate Gamboa to the upper echelons of the sport and put him in prime position for bigger fights.

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He was originally scheduled to face fellow Bob Arum fighter Brandon Rios in what promised to be an all-action war, but the fight fell through when Gamboa refused to sign the contract.

This led to a falling out with his promoters at Top Rank and left him searching for a new promoter.

He initially signed with the ill-fated The Money Team promotional co-venture between Floyd Mayweather and rapper 50 Cent.

The company crashed nearly as soon as it was formed. Gamboa will now fight exclusively under the banner of 50 Cent's SMS Promotions, which was recently granted a license in Nevada.

Gamboa was also a central player in the now seemingly debunked Twitter war between the former business partners, leading 50 Cent to Tweet this to Mayweather on Nov. 4:

GAMBOA IS MAD FLOYD. He gonna beat ya ass man. He moving up in weight. SMSaudio

— 50cent (@50cent) November 4, 2012

Ironically, Gamboa will fight on the undercard of Top Rank's biggest cash cow when Manny Pacquiao takes on Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time in Las Vegas.

Gamboa is a former two-time world champion and is widely considered a heavy favorite in this fight. He is an all-action fighter who has power in both hands. He should be hungry and primed to go after the layoff.

It's a chance for him to once again show on a big stage that he's ready to make the jump to become one of the sport's elite.

Farenas has proven to be durable in his career, as all three of his losses have come by decision.

But he has never faced anyone with the speed and power of Gamboa.

He was behind on the scorecards against undefeated WBA junior lightweight champion Takashi Uchiyama in his most recent outing.

The fight was declared a draw in the third round after a clash of heads.

Other than that, there is little on his resume to say he is ready for the pressure he'll face on Dec 8.

Expect Gamboa to start out a little slowly as he works off the ring rust, but it will be an early night for Michael Farenas when he gets going.

Boxing fans have a short memory.

It wasn't that long ago that Yuriorkis Gamboa was being talked about as a star in the making. He'll be looking to make up for lost time and show people that he's still around and that he's still a force to be reckoned with.