In 2009 and 2010, then-featherweight world titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel "Juanma" Lopez, a junior featherweight world titlist who would move up in weight to win a featherweight belt, were rising pound-for-pound stars on a collision course boxing fans were salivating over.
However, with both seeking big money that was not yet there for their showdown, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promoted both of them at the time, made a decision that has stuck to him since and been invoked whenever there is a big fight promoters try to delay for the purposes of generating more money.
Arum said he would let the fight "marinate," and marinate it did until Lopez got knocked out by Orlando Salido. Twice. The second time came in 2012, at which point Lopez's career as a top fighter was over; Gamboa would soon follow with long layoffs, a lack of focus and a knockout loss to Terence Crawford in a 2014 lightweight world title fight.
But Gamboa and Lopez have not gone quietly into the night. They have hung around, fighting lower-level fights, winning and losing. But with little else to do to make a buck, the long-overmarinated fight is on their minds.
Gamboa and Lopez will fight in separate 10-round lightweight fights on the same Integrated Sports pay-per-view card Nov. 10 (9 p.m. ET, $24.95) outdoors on the West Plaza at Marlins Park in Miami, New Champions Promotions announced at a news conference attended by both fighters Thursday.
If Gamboa and Lopez each win their respective bouts, they would face each other next, nearly a decade after a fight between them was one of the hottest in boxing but now would come at a time when many probably don't realize either is still boxing.
Former unified featherweight titlist and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Gamboa (28-2, 17 KOs), 36, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, will face former two-time junior lightweight world title challenger Miguel Beltran Jr. (32-6, 21 KOs), 29, of Mexico, in the main event.
In the co-feature, Lopez (35-6, 32 KOs), a 35-year-old southpaw and 2004 Puerto Rican Olympian, will face Cristian Ruben Mino (19-2, 17 KOs), 21, of Argentina.
"I am happy to be on the big stage again, one that I have been used to being on," Lopez said through an interpreter. "This is a pay-per-view event and that merits a lot of attention. Obviously, most important to me personally is to win this fight and potentially set up the next fight against Yuriorkis Gamboa, which has been a fight that has kind of eluded both of us, but as long as I take care of business and he takes care of business there is no reason for that not to happen for the next fight.
"On the other hand he is talking about fighting [pound-for-pound king and lightweight champion Vasiliy] Lomachenko. If he wins this fight and skips me and wants to keep running, let him run, but hopefully he does not run. This fight was done with the idea and the plan that we both get featured on a card and we fight and win and fight each other, but now he's talking a different language -- fighting Lomachenko -- so maybe he is having second thoughts. It's a fight that the public wants but it is all up to him. Hopefully he sticks to the plan."
Gamboa, once one of boxing's most electrifying fighters, has eked out two wins in a row by majority decision and will be coming off a one-year layoff. Lopez has been knocked out in three of his past four fights, including a 12th-round knockout loss to Jayson Velez in an all-Puerto Rican grudge match March 3, but he still carries a big punch.
Gamboa said he has no intention of doing anything but facing Lopez next if they both win Nov. 10.
"The comment that Juanma had made earlier that I may be running or I may be ducking -- that is false," Gamboa said through an interpreter. "He knows he is contractually obligated to New Champions for two fights -- the second fight would be, if we both win, a fight between me and him. The fact that my goal is to fight Lomachenko or someone else in the division does not mean that I am trying to duck him. By all means, I know my obligation and I know his obligation. My obligation right now is to win on Nov. 10. After winning Nov. 10, I want Juanma.
"Mr. Beltran, I understand the challenge that he poses, but I don't see him as too much of an obstacle towards the goals that I have set for myself in the near future -- Juanma and then after Juanma, going up against Lomachenko. Those are my objectives, and I want to share this ride with Miami and that's what I am doing coming into this new arrangement with New Champion Promotions and making it a must to do the pay-per-view here in Miami, because I know the people of Miami are going to support it."
Gamboa and Lopez are not being matched particularly tough since the goal is for them to fight each other.
Beltran has lost two of his past three fights, including a 10-round unanimous decision to Casey Ramos in his last fight, in April 2017.
"I respect Gamboa but I came here to fight and I came here to win, so let's get to it," Beltran said. "I came here to win and I will give everything in the ring to make that happen, and that's the way it's going to be."
Mino has lost his past two fights, including a fourth-round knockout to Alfredo Santiago on Aug. 18.