Gamboa's goal? To be No. 1 lightweight

Yuriorkis Gamboa, left, suffered the first defeat of his career against Terence Crawford in June. Chris Farina/Top Rank

Former unified featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa suffered his first loss in June when Terence Crawford knocked Gamboa down four times and violently stopped him in the ninth round of a tremendous fight that is a candidate for fight of the year.

Gamboa, who is promoted by rap star Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, was outboxed that night by a bigger, better man. But Gamboa has not given up on his dream of becoming the No. 1 lightweight in the world.

Some believe that Gamboa (23-1, 16 KOs) is too small to compete effectively at 135 pounds. He had his best success at 126 pounds. Nonetheless, he is returning to action in a lightweight bout -- though it is supposed to be at a maximum weight of 132 pounds -- against Mexico’s Joel Montes de Oca (18-3, 10 KOs) on Saturday night (Fox Deportes, 10:30 ET) at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico.

The 32-year-old Gamboa, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist and Cuban defector now living in Miami, owns wins against quality opponents such as Orlando Salido, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Michael Farenas, Jorge Solis, Jonathan Victor Barros and Darleys Perez. So although Gamboa is coming off a loss, he is not expected to have too many problems with de Oca, who has won 14 fights in a row, but against limited competition.

"I want my fans to know that I feel great," Gamboa said in translated remarks. “'I’ve been training very hard for this fight, which I'm taking very serious because I know the importance of ending the year on a positive note. I'm now fully focused on becoming king of the lightweight division, as well as hopefully being much more active in 2015, with my goal to fight three or four times next year. I am honored to fight in Mexico and I plan to fight there again in 2015."

In the featherweight main event, former unified junior bantamweight champion Cristian Mijares (52-8-2, 25 KOs) of Mexico will face Lester Medrano (14-2-1, 9 KOs) of Nicaragua in a scheduled 10-rounder.