Yuriorkis Gamboa just wasn't big enough to hang with a top lightweight. That means he is headed back to junior lightweight.
That was the decision made by Gamboa, adviser Tony Gonzalez and promoter Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson following Gamboa's ninth-round knockout loss to lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford on Saturday night in Crawford's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
Crawford didn't just stop Gamboa, who got off to a strong start and was leading after four rounds. The bigger and longer Crawford scored four knockdowns en route to the harsh knockout victory. It was enough to make Gamboa (23-1, 16 KOs), fighting for only the second time as a lightweight, and his team realize he would be better served in the smaller weight class.
"50 and I spoke about what his immediate future plan would be with him and from the onset the consensus is to go back to 130 pounds," Gonzalez told ESPN.com. "We still feel he can do a good campaign at 135 and he asked about a rematch with Terence because he wants another crack. He is uber competitive and when I got into the ring after the fight he kept saying, 'Why'd they stop the fight? They should have counted to 10.' I told him it was a good stoppage. So, yes, he wants another crack at Crawford and we know he could beat other lightweights, but we talked about going back to 130.
"There was a little resistance but at 130, 126, those were his better days. He has the power advantage. So he agreed but he is not completely discarding coming back to 135 at some point. So that's where we stand."
Gonzalez said Gamboa, a former unified featherweight titleholder, would not drop all the way back to the 126-pound division.
"He feels comfortable at 130 and he came in weighing 146 on the night of the fight with Crawford, so going back to 126, he's not going to do that. I don't think he could do that," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the aim is to have Gamboa, who came off a year layoff to face Crawford, back in the ring in October or November and said he believes there are some interesting fights at 130, including a title fight with Mikey Garcia or a showdown with fellow former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez.
Gamboa, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist, was supposed to have been facing Garcia rather than Crawford, but Garcia pulled out of the talks when he sued promoter Top Rank to get out of his contract. If they work things out, perhaps Garcia-Gamboa can be made for later this year.
As for Lopez, he has a fight against Francisco Vargas on July 12, so a showdown with Gamboa is not his priority.
In 2010 and 2011, the prospect of Lopez-Gamboa was one of the most anticipated fights in boxing after they appeared on multiple cards together. But Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he wanted to "let it marinate" and refused to make the fight. Then Lopez got knocked out twice by Orlando Salido and the demand for the fight evaporated. Even if the fight is eventually made, it won't be nearly as anticipated as it once was.
Crawford (24-0, 17 KOs), who was making his first title defense, said that he also thought Gamboa would be better off moving down in weight.
"To say he don't have any power, that would be an understatement. But to be more effective with one-punch knockout power he might want to go back down to 130 or 126," Crawford told ESPN.com. "His speed wasn't really a factor. I felt like I was just as fast. I was working on timing and slowing him down to the body."