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The Yuriorkis Gamboa Dilemma Following Recent PED Implication

January 31st, 2013 at 11:00 AM
By Sharon Scrima

'Boxing ring, MGM Grand' photo (c) 2008, Alan Kotok - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

As previously reported by the Miami New Times News, undefeated super featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa has been linked to an anti-aging clinic allegedly distributing performance enhancing drugs to a variety of high profile athletes, including New York Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez. While Major League Baseball undergoes a thorough investigation of this matter as it relates to the implicated baseball players with a view to discipline those who 'use, purchase and are involved in the distribution of banned substances', the absence of any such centralized commission or regulatory body in boxing spares Gamboa from any kind of formal disciplinary process. However, it creates a new wrinkle in the talented fighter's career.

The New Times investigation into Biogenesis and its chief Anthony Bosch cites interviews with six customers and two former employees, as well as patient files and other documents. In a notebook dated 2009, Bosch outlines an extensive program he was shipping to Gamboa that included protein powders and calcium/magnesium/zinc compounds. Additionally, he included a six-day-a-week HGH regime, IGF-1, and a cream with 20 percent testosterone.

According to the scathing report, Bosch noted to "start clean-up Dec. 1" in advance of an upcoming bout against Brandon Rios in April 2012. What makes this notation even more intriguing is that Gamboa, a former WBA and IBF featherweight titlist, planned to move up two weight classes to face the hard punching former lightweight champion Rios. The fight was ultimately canceled in March 2012 after Gamboa refused to attend scheduled press conferences in Miami and Los Angeles, claiming contractual differences with promoter Top Rank. Gamboa was later slapped with a breach of contract suit by Top Rank that was subsequently settled.

Gamboa (22-0, 16 KO's) has since signed with Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's promotion company, SMS Promotions. In his first fight with SMS, the Cuban sensation captured the interim WBA super featherweight belt with a unanimous decision over Michael Farenas on the HBO pay-per-view undercard of Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8.

Although the talented 2004 Olympic gold medalist was victorious against Farenas, knocking the Filipino down twice, Gamboa was expected to have a bit of an uphill battle in re-establishing himself as one of the top fighters in boxing.

The 31-year old Gamboa wasted 15-months of his career, in large part due to the ugly promotional dispute with Top Rank. His activity level has progressively dropped over the past four years, fighting 4 times in 2009, three in 2010, twice in 2011 and only once in 2012.

It remains to be seen if his association with Jackson's SMS Promotions will be fruitful. The aspiring boxing promoter's highly public fallout with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. last November may carry some residual political repercussions. Billy Dib, another SMS promoted fighter, was suddenly scrapped by Showtime from the high profile Miguel Cotto-Austin Trout undercard on December 1 at Madison Square Garden, creating some speculation that Jackson may not have the relationships required to succeed in the boxing business.    

The manner in which Gamboa handled himself in the Rios/Top Rank matter left quite a bit to be desired and raises questions surrounding his professionalism. He was dismissive of a fellow fighter and former world champion, promotional staff, members of the media and the mayor, all sure-fire ways for one to alienate themselves.

On top of all of that, Gamboa is now implicated in a brewing PED scandal. Given the dreadfully flawed drug testing system within boxing, of which we have been most recently reminded by Maxboxing.com's Gabriel Montoya, no kind of meaningful investigation is expected to take place with respect to Gamboa's involvement since he passed every standard drug test administered by the respective state athletic commissions in the past. Under their rules, fighters are not retroactively fined or suspended once they pass a drug test (a la Shane Mosley vs Oscar De La Hoya in 2003).

While there may not be any direct consequences levied by a commission or sanctioning body, it does not necessarily mean that it will be smooth sailing for Gamboa. It is expected that any future opponent will demand some form of enhanced drug testing (assuming they themselves have nothing to hide) in light of Gamboa's alleged connection to Bosch. Now that he is no longer promoted by Top Rank, whose chief Bob Arum has been opposed to more sophisticated testing by outside agencies such as the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) or the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), there is greater opportunity for Gamboa to be matched-up with Golden Boy promoted fighters.

Golden Boy, a bitter rival to Top Rank who has steadily become one of the most powerful promoters in the sport with a deep stable of fighters, has come to use USADA as their drug testing agency of choice. Given the limited options that currently exist at super featherweight, Gamboa may want to set his sights on bigger money fights by moving up in weight to face WBC lightweight champion Adrien Broner or down to take on two-division champion Abner Mares who recently announced he is moving up to 126.

In both cases, Gamboa would likely have to adhere to USADA to face either of these Golden Boy promoted stars. Granted, USADA is not without its flaws but there would be greater likelihood that the random nature of their tests would be more effective at identifying PED use than those administered by the state commissions. Whether proper disciplinary action is taken at that time is a separate issue (ie, Erik Morales vs Danny Garcia in October 2012).

Even if Gamboa passes a USADA or VADA administered test in the future, all of the pressure is on him to prove that he can still perform as a 'clean' fighter. Mosley went 7-6-1 following his admission of designer steroid usage to the grand jury in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) case.

While this included two impressive stoppages over Fernando Vargas and one of the most commanding victories of his career against Antonio Margarito, Mosley wasn't quite the same fighter after the De La Hoya fight. One could legitimately claim age and deterioration of skills were driving factors in his decline – Mosley was 32 with a record of 38-2 when he defeated Oscar. The counter argument is that he was unable to sufficiently fight the hands of time without some assistance.

This is the latest dilemma that the 31-year old, relatively inactive and somewhat problematic Gamboa now faces.  

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Tags: Anthony Bosch, Boxing, Brandon Rios, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Yuriorkis Gamboa

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