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Hard-hitting Yuriorkis Gamboa plots future

LAS VEGAS -- Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward has a message for anyone at 130 pounds: Watch out for Yuri Gamboa.

“He is so gifted and coordinated, it’s phenomenal,” said Steward, who was hired to replace Ismael Salas as Gamboa’s trainer last month. “He can be electrifying. He has the makeup of a champion, and I like that.”

Over the years, Steward has developed a reputation as a jab master, built largely on the success of heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. Though Steward says he will work on Gamboa’s jab, he doesn’t expect to make any major changes.

“I like knockouts,” Steward said. “I got that [jab master] label because of Wladimir but as a rule I like knockouts. You need a jab, I don’t care how old you are or tall you are. I want to improve his left hook a little. I want to get him to turn it like Miguel Cotto or Julio Cesar Chavez. I’ll show him a few trick moves and then leave him alone. Anything I can dream of, he can do. Some guys you dream of them doing things and they can’t. Not him.”

Steward says Gamboa’s next fight will be in January at 130 pounds. Steward says he would like Gamboa (21-0) to stay at 135 for a few fights before making the jump to 135.

“I think 135 is about it,” Steward said. “He’s only 5-5. And when you fight at 135, a lot of guys come in at 150.”

One fight that Gamboa’s promoter Top Rank has said they are interested in is a matchup with 135-pound champion Brandon Rios. However Steward says he is not interested in that fight.

“I don’t like that fight right now,” Steward says. “Gamboa needs a few fights at 130. Besides, they are both big stars in the sport. We have such a shortage of young fighters. All of the stars are in their 30’s. We need to take time to develop young superstars and not just run them out and have them fight each other so quickly. It’s not good for the business.”

There is a big fight for Gamboa at 130 pounds: Adrien Broner, the former U.S. amateur standout who will fight for a vacant super featherweight title on Nov. 26. Both Gamboa (16 knockouts) and Broner (17 KO’s) have tremendous power. A matchup in the spring of 2012 would be a spectacular fight.

-- Chris Mannix