OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Yuriorkis Gamboa said Thursday he has superior credentials to Terence “Bud” Crawford, so he has no fear of going into the hometown of the defending WBO lightweight champion to fight for the title next month.
Gamboa and Crawford traded verbal spars at a spirited news conference to promote the June 28 bout at the CenturyLink Center. It will be the first title fight in Omaha since heavyweight champ Joe Frazier stopped Ron Stander in 1972.
The 26-year-old Crawford won his title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland, in March. Gamboa hasn’t fought since last June, when he beat Darley Perez in Montreal.
Crawford and Gamboa have identical records — 23-0 with 16 knockouts.
“It’s going to be a good fight. I know that,” Crawford said. “Gamboa is a truly incredible champion. I have nothing bad to say about the man. The only thing I can say is he shouldn’t have took this fight.”
The last part of Crawford’s comment drew Gamboa’s ire, and the 32-year-old native of Cuba rose to offer a rebuttal.
“I didn’t make an error in choosing this fight,” Gamboa said through an interpreter. “Before you speak, you’ve got to look at and compare the records. Look at mine compared to yours and just measure the caliber of fighters you’ve fought compared to the caliber of the fighters I’ve fought, and then you can talk.”
“You ain’t fought me yet,” Crawford countered.
Gamboa said, “You’ve never fought an Olympic champion like I have and you (aren’t) a three-time category world champion like me.”
Crawford said, “This isn’t amateurs. This is the professional game. I’ve got a zero (losses). You’ve got a zero — soon to be a loss.”
Gamboa said, “And I’m a three category world champion. What are you?”
Crawford said, “Interim don’t count. Interim don’t count. I’m the champion. You’re the challenger. See you June 28.”
Gamboa was the 2004 Olympic gold medalist at 112 pounds. He’s the WBA interim lightweight champion and a former WBA featherweight and super featherweight title-holder. He moved up to lightweight for his last fight, a 12-round unanimous decision against the previously unbeaten Perez.
“I came here to prove to everyone, my critics and fans alike, that I am willing to fight Terence in his own backyard so everyone can witness a great fight,” Gamboa said.
The usually reserved Crawford said in an interview he didn’t expect to engage Gamboa at the news conference.
“When he talked about coming into my backyard and what he’s going to do, I’ve got to stand my ground,” he said.
After his win over Burns, Crawford insisted that his first title defense would happen in Omaha. He turned down a proposed fight at an arena in Council Bluffs, Iowa, just a couple miles from the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha.
“Too far away,” he said.
Crawford grew up a few miles north of the Omaha arena, and he said it was important for him to fight on Nebraska soil. A raucous group of family and friends, some wearing “Team Crawford” apparel, accompanied him to the news conference.
“It means a lot because these are the people who have supported me since day one, and I feel that they have the right to see me fight live,” he said.
It will be Crawford’s first fight at CenturyLink Center since he lost in the 132-pound finals at the 2006 National Golden Gloves.
“That’s bygones, bygones, but I haven’t forgotten it,” he said. “That’s the last time I was in this building, and I’m looking for redemption.”
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.