[Criteria: Fighter theoretically enters weight category of choice]
SUPER-BANTAMWEIGHTS or JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHTS or LIGHT-FEATHERWEIGHTS 122 lbs: p1 Wilfredo Gomez p3 Jeff Fenech p4 Eder Jofre p5 Marco Antonio Barrera p7 Erik Morales p8 Guillermo Rigondeaux p9 Ruben Olivares p10 Wilfredo Vazquez p11 Daniel Zaragoza p11 Rey Vargas
[8.9] WILFREDO GOMEZ 48-44(42)-3-1 [Super Featherweight & Featherweight & Super Bantamweight]: Boxing Scene online - Boxing News online - Boxing.com online -
As many times as his name has already come up, could there really be any doubt. In many respects, no matter how good things get, the 1995 IBHOF inductee Gomez remains a shadow over everything accomplished after him at 122. He was that good. He was that devastating. He may well have been Puerto Rico’s greatest fighter in any weight class. After a career opening draw in November 1974, Gomez would see nothing but victory for almost seven years. That first loss, at Featherweight to the great Salvador Sanchez, would also be the only bout since his debut which didn’t end with a knockout victory. Astoundingly, it would take from that first fight until he captured a Featherweight belt from Juan Laporte in 1984 for a Gomez bout to last the distance. In between, he amassed one of the nastiest title reigns ever. After knocking out Dong Kyun Yum in twelve to seize the WBC honors on May 21, 1977, Gomez would post seventeen knockout title defenses. Sure, there were some lesser lights in those seventeen. There was also some exceptional quality. Former WBC champ Riasco … out in three. Cruz TKO13. The 52-0 best bantamweight in the world Carlos Zarate? TKO5 in an epic showdown on October 28, 1978. The numbers mounted on the way to the ill-fated challenge of Sanchez but Gomez wasn’t done yet. He’d return down the scale to stop Juan Meza in six and in his final defense win what, until Israel Vasquez-Rafael Marquez III, was probably the division’s greatest fight. For fourteen rounds on the undercard of Thomas Hearns-Wilfred Benitez, Gomez warred with Bantamweight and future Junior Featherweight titlist Lupe Pintor. Pintor’s future 122 reign was still just future when Gomez was done. There would be only eight fights after Pintor, and Gomez was never very good above 122 outside the LaPorte win. Outside ring living and the rigors of time made him an easy mark for the great Azumah Nelson at 126 and, while the cards read out to a win, he was extremely lucky to skate by Rocky Lockridge for a 130 lb. title. It was all but over when the unexceptional 13-5 Alfredo Layne stopped him in his first defense there but the end didn’t really matter.
Gomez’s place was already set in stone as a standard set so high in the young 122 lbs class it will be unlikely any fighter ever surpasses him. Boxing Scene online article Cliff Rold, ‘The Top 20 Junior Featherweights of All Time’
On This Day: Puerto Rico’s finest son, Wilfredo Gomez, was born: Puerto Rico has produced many outstanding fighters, but arguably the best is Wilfredo Gomez – and that’s ahead of Wilfred Benitez, Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto.
Gomez held the WBC super-bantamweight title from May 1977 to early 1983, making a record 17 defences for the division. He didn’t lose the title in the ring, but relinquished to move to featherweight, where he became WBC champ. And he would eventually hold the WBA belt title in a third weight class, super-feather, when clearly past his best.
If he didn’t become a global superstar, it was probably because the 8st 10lbs class was still only a year old when he first became world champion, and many took it lightly as an ‘in between’ weight. And when Wilfredo first stepped up to 9 st, against Mexican Salvador Sanchez in 1981, he was dropped and stopped in eight rounds. But at his best he was a formidable fighter. His nickname of ‘Bazooka’ suggests one-punch knockout power, but in fact Gomez overwhelmed opponents with blazing combinations of hurtful, accurate blows.
In 1978 former Boxing News editor Graham Houston described Gomez as, ‘a boxer-puncher with the feline quality of a smaller Jose Napoles. He’s very dangerous because he always seems poised to strike. He’s got the sloped shoulders of a puncher and his power’s combined with a very high degree of accuracy.’
Gomez was a precocious talent. He competed in the 1972 Olympics as a 15-year-old flyweight and lost first time out. Two years later, when still only 17, he struck bantam gold at the inaugural World Amateur Championships in Havana, destroying a Cuban in the final. His pro debut saw him held to a draw, but then Wilfredo won his next 32 bouts inside the distance. He so dominated the super-bantams that he had to seek other challenges, most notably in October 1978 when he defended against WBC bantam king Carlos Zarate. It was a superfight: the Mexican had won all his 52 fights, 51 inside the limit, while Gomez had 21 wins (all early) to go with that initial draw.
Yet Gomez made it one-sided, flooring a flu-weakened Zarate three times and stopping him in five rounds.
The Sanchez setback kept him down in the 8-10 division and in 1982 he figured in a breathtaking battle against Mexico’s Lupe Pintor at the New Orleans Superdome. Both slammed away non-stop until Pintor, a former unbeaten WBC bantam champion, wilted to be rescued in round 14.
That was on the Thomas Hearns-Wilfred Benitez bill, and six months earlier Gomez had retained in the chief support to the Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney world heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas.
In the end, Gomez’s talent proved a burden as well as a blessing. It was said that he didn’t bother training specifically for an opponent, rather just worked out to shed weight. And in retirement he suffered drug problems, putting on so much weight that he was hardly recognisable. But nobody can mistake how good Wilfredo was in his prime. Boxing News online article 29 October 2018 Nick Bond
Wilfredo Gomez: A Will to Destroy: Wilfredo Gomez’s career paints a fierce picture. A not so subtle nickname of Bazooka leaves no chance for misunderstanding; this Puerto Rican pygmy could dig. He could also box, though the artful stuff was more like the restaurant equivalent of an aperitif. Nobody remembers him for handcuffing his prey with subtle moves; in everyone one of those 122-pound defenses the target was wrecked.
Knockout streaks will never fail to smitten, but Gomez did something very few punchers can claim. He never stopped hunting; brain cells be damned.
Every now and then you’ll see something which burns itself into the memory. One such instance unfolded in Las Vegas March 12th 1982. Twelve rounds into his blistering war with Lupe Pintor and Wilfredo Gomez was hoisted from ring center. Plonked back onto his stool the champion didn’t look so hot. Some fighters just swell badly and Gomez’s cheekbones could puff up like he’d been using a hornet’s nest as a speed ball. Staring right back at him, Lupe’s face was without a mark, but that didn’t stop Gomez trying to level the Mexican.
I saw the same thing against Salvador Sanchez.
Up a weight and on the wrong side of beating, Gomez stormed into no man’s land as if he was the one dishing out the lumps. There was no tell in his body language, just another tenderized mug. Disaster was in store on this occasion but, even when outgunned, Wilfredo stuck to his belligerent philosophy. Usually when knockout artists fail to destroy they lose the plot. Gomez reloaded.
His career is best read backwards, from retirement to debut, because only when you see how Wilfredo met defeat can you appreciate the dynamo that pulverised a division.
Out on the weary streets of Las Monjas, one may wonder how such a powerful figure could arise. Houses are small, ill-equipped and full of family. Pa isn’t going to be making such a great wage and so many are forced to relocate. Even as an amateur sensation, at a stage when Amir Khan was sickly groomed by the British media, Gomez slept on a worn mattress and dreamt big. Surely locals are poor of spirit. Conversely hard times strengthen the will, and when Gomez made the bold decision to turn professional he packed his gloves for Panama. Out there they ‘teach boxers how to move inside the ring’ figured manager Yamil Chade.
Plain old nerves may have tainted his pro debut, drawing with Jacinto Fuentes, but there was some much needed polish before Gomez opposed the world’s elite. Just how a puncher makes his gift the deciding factor is a subtlety lost to casual fans. Chade recognized a diamond in the rough when he saw one, and just as they’re formed under high pressure some high intensity training was in store for his protégé.
Damp plaster, minimal equipment; there is something severe about Latino gyms. They’re the kind of place you’d expect to see abandoned pets. Taster sessions are a laughable notion. You can’t dismiss advancements in sports science, but it’s no lie that modern gym protocol suffers from gimmicks. When Gomez got down to business he did so with an intensity which made sure nothing pointless weaselled its way into the daily grind.
Versus the mitts Wilfredo would punch through the target, and not with singles but high-volume bursts. There was no posturing or light tapping, even when shadowboxing Gomez had a nasty air about him. To hone his agility he would stand against a wall and have a rubber ball thrown at his head. Instinctively he slipped and ducked out of the way, choosing his angles, demonstrating great awareness.
When everything clicked Gomez worked his way into the ranks like a disease.
Fifteen stoppages brought Puerto Rico’s wonder kid to his first world title. Exposure hadn’t been great as an amateur; not so any more. At twenty Gomez was favored to rip the title away from South Korea’s Dong-Kyun Yum. It was more wrestled away. Yum may have been up against a nation as well as his opponent but he wasn’t spooked. A counter hook dumped Gomez on his pants in the opener and he was rattled by the same punch in round two. Wilfredo pressured in the third but got it right back. He committed a bit of a naughty in round six, ramming his shoulder under Yum’s chin to escape a clinch, eager to do damage. With a pair of springy legs he darted in and out, firing hurtful punches. The champion was ultimately forced into survival mode but fifteen rounds were three too many.