Is Yuriorkis Gamboa Too Good for His Own Good?

by Hamilton Nolan

Yuriorkis Gamboa may be the most talented boxer in the world. Not the most polished boxer; he throws punches in a blur of curvature in which jabs, hooks, and crosses become misnomers. Not the craftiest boxer either; he tends to spend the greater part of most fights with his hands down, goading his opponent out of sheer boredom. But for pure, otherworldly talent -- unapproachable speed, knockout power, overwhelming combination punching, sublime footwork -- there is no one on earth more blessed than Gamboa. Now if he could only figure out how to turn that talent into a decent career.

Let us very briefly get the pedigree of "El Ciclon de Guantanmo" out of the way: a 2004 Olympic gold medal. Multiple Cuban national championships. A defection to America, followed by a 22-0 pro record with 16 knockouts. Gamboa has been knocked down plenty of times, but it almost seems as though he’s so good that he takes stupid risks in the ring just to challenge himself. But he has never truly been challenged. And there lies the problem.