What could have been one of the great fights in recent times was scuttled on Wednesday when Top Rank filed suit in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas against boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, ending the potential classic lightweight title match between the 2004 Olympic flyweight gold medalist and Brandon Rios.
Instead, Rios will fight Richard Abril on April 14 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said he is attempting to secure a new television network for the deal, and expects to have something "by the end of the day" on Wednesday.
Yahoo! Sports reported on Feb. 16 that the Rios-Gamboa fight was finalized. Top Rank president Todd duBoef flew to Miami last month to meet with Gamboa and later confirmed he had a deal reached.
"I just had to do it to push the ball over the goal line," duBoef told Yahoo! Sports on Feb. 16.
But Gamboa skipped both stops on a press tour designed to promote the bout with Rios, on March 6 in Miami and the next day in Los Angeles. He turned up at Floyd Mayweather's gym in Las Vegas and told Ring that he was unhappy with his $1.1 million purse for the bout.
"Whenever everything is clear with my contract, that's when the fight will happen, but right now I'm not under the terms that I want the fight to happen. I don't have a problem with HBO, and I hope that HBO doesn't have a problem with me either, because everything that's happening with me, I didn't choose to be in the position I'm in right now.
"But this is the time to do this, because if I don't stand up for myself, nobody else is going to do it. I never thought that things would wind up this way, but there was never a contract and there was never a signature from Gamboa agreeing to fight with Brandon Rios on April 14."
Arum said Wednesday "we have emails confirming" that Gamboa had agreed to terms. But Gamboa wouldn't budge and Arum said he felt he had no option but to sue.
"This would have been a hell of a fight, but what can we do?" Arum said. "We had a deal and he's not living up to the deal. We've sued him, but at this point, we have not made any claims against whoever may have induced him to breach his contract. We'll see about that."
That was clearly a veiled reference to Mayweather, the pound-for-pound king who used to be promoted by Arum. The two, though, have a very poor relationship.
Sekou Gary, Gamboa's attorney, did not return a call from Yahoo! Sports seeking comment on the suit. Neither did Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's manager.
Abril caused a scene -- and may have gotten himself the fight -- after slapping Rios at the Miami news conference. Rios was speaking with reporters when Abril walked into the scrum and started speaking to Rios in Spanish.
Rios said in English, "You want to fight me? That's my manager right over there. Tell him. I don't give a [expletive]."
Abril, 17-2-1, defeated former lightweight champion Miguel Acosta in his last fight. Rios won his lightweight title from Acosta on Feb. 26, 2011.
Arum said full refunds would be available for those who want them through March 23. He said he was unable to lower ticket prices at this point.