The 2004 Olympic Games gold medalist, 2009 Prospect of the Year and WBA #3-ranked contender, Yuriorkis Gamboa (14-0, 12 KOs), of Miami by way of Cuba, will face second-ranked Jose “Cheo” Rojas (25-6-1, 17 KOs, 1 No Decision) of Caracas, Venezuela, for the interim WBA featherweight title tonight on ShoBox: The New Generation on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). In the co-feature at Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino at Primm, Nev., undefeated Selcuk Aydin (17-0, 14 KOs) of Turkey makes his ShoBox and United States debuts against hard-punching southpaw Said Ouali (25-2, 17 KOs), a Las Vegas-based Moroccan, in a 12-round battle of top 10 welterweights.
Tickets for an event presented by Hamburg, Germany-based Arena Boxing start at $20 and can be purchased at www.primmvalleyresorts.com. Doors open for the live event open at 6 p.m. PT.
“Fighting for a world title in my 15th fight is very exciting, but I always had a dream, a goal, to fight for the title within two years of turning pro and it is almost two years exactly.
“I am very hungry for the belt. I’ve seen tapes of Rojas and know he is a veteran with a lot of experience. He has fought tough fighters. He is not coming here to lose. So there is no way I will look past him.
“But I am confident and extremely prepared. It could be an easy fight, or a difficult one. But a fight is a fight and I will try and finish him as fast as I can. I feel I am too fast and explosive for him.
“That he’s a left-hander doesn’t bother me at all. I had so many amateur fights. I have fought all sorts of fighters with all different styles.
“Expectations of me are very high, I understand that. So, yes, there is definitely pressure. But it is the kind of pressure that is almost an honor for me to have. I will give my best and try to live up or exceed what people already think of me. I know I have to prove myself.
“Since hooking up with trainer Ismael Salas, I feel I am much improved. He is one of the top trainers in the world and he has really helped me learn and understand the pro game.
“I know I hold my hands low – everybody knows that – but we continue to work on that. It’s just a bad habit I need to get rid of. Nobody likes to get knocked down but, bottom line is, I keep getting back up.
“I want to fight the best there is at 126 pounds. I am willing to fight any of the current world champions. This is a great opportunity for me. I am looking forward to winning the title on SHOWTIME.”
“I am not here to be a stepping stone for anybody. I am happy to get another shot at the world title and I want to win it.
“I’ve never seen a tape of Rojas. Nor do I care to. There is no way to compare him to the other fighters I’ve fought. He’s just coming up. Let’s see how he does on Friday. Then, maybe, I will have an opinion.”
“I plan to walk through this guy and knock him out. I want to put on a good show for the fans on SHOWTIME and in America.
“I’ve seen a couple of tapes of Ouali. But I never think too much about my opponents. It is all about me and my training. If my training is good, which it has been, I’m fine. I’m more focused and disciplined than ever.
“I had 380 amateur fights so I will be prepared for whatever he brings. I have never been knocked down as a pro or amateur. I’ve never been cut or really hurt.
“I hope he comes to fight and doesn’t just run or try and survive. I am willing to fight any of the fighters ahead of me in the rankings.
“I will do whatever it takes to get the world title.”
“I have way too many skills for this guy. In fact, I’ve seen his fights and he has no skills. This may be an easy fight, although I didn’t prepare or train for one.
“Aydin is just aggressive. That’s it. He has short arms. I will own a big edge in reach and I will take advantage of that. I know I can outbox him, but I can probably outpunch him, too.
“He’s going to try and get inside, but if he gets too close I will make him pay bigtime. I’ll get his respect early, you can count on that.
“He’s never fought a fighter like me and it will show on Friday night.”