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04-15-2007, 12:35 PM
A fairly recent, objective article on Juan Carlos Gomez.

Is Heavyweight Gold Still Possible for Juan Carlos Gomez?
By Antonio Santiago-March 25, 2007

Hispanics have been known for being prolific in boxing, pretty much like Americans, Asians, and Europeans have also been. Unlike their American and European colleagues and much like their Asian ones, however, Hispanic boxers have left their mark in the lighter weight classes. It could be called one of boxing's traditions, and rightfully so. Who would want to miss a war between two Mexican Bantamweights? And had they been in the same era, Ricardo Lopez against Miguel Canto at flyweight, Wilfred Benitez versus Felix Trinidad at Welterweight and Nicolino Locche against Juan Martin Coggi at Junior Welterweight would have been must see mega fights.

Well, almost everywhere. In the Heavyweight division, Hispanics have had as much success as the SST Concorde jet did globally with airlines. Luis Firpo put Jack Dempsey down for a nine count, but Dempsey got up and knocked the Wild Bull of the Pampas in the second, closing the envelope as far as Hispanic luck among boxing's giants. When Joe Louis defeated Chile's Arturo Godoy by a close (some historians even say controversial) 15 round decision in their first fight to retain the world Heavyweight title, he stamped the same envelope Dempsey had closed and sent it.

For sixty years after that, it was one failure after the other for Hispanics in the Heavyweight division. Cuban Nino Valdes was very good and noteworthy, but far from special. Mexican Manuel Ramos was shown the door by Joe Frazier in two rounds. Argentine Oscar Bonavena was good, but also crude. Uruguayan Alfredo Evangelista failed miserably in trying to dethrone Champions: Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes. Puerto Rican Ossie Ocasio also failed against Holmes, and another Puerto Rican, Jose Roman, became boxing's laughing stock when he lasted all of two minutes with world Heavyweight Champion George Foreman in Tokyo. Until John Ruiz claimed the WBA Heavyweight Title for the first time in 2001, the Hispanic heavyweights did not fair well.

Cuban Juan Carlos Gomez, the former WBC Cruiserweight Champion, offers a fresh hope for Hispanics to shine in the heavyweight division. An accomplished if unknown in the United States boxer, Gomez had a long amateur career and established himself as a solid Cruiserweight Champion before moving up in weight. He set foot in Paraguay after his amateur career, but never fought there professionally, finding fights, and a home, in Germany instead. After a meteoric ascent that saw him go 22-0, 19 KOs, he faced Argentina's Marcelo Dominguez, a decent Champion, for the WBC Cruiserweight Belt, which Gomez annexed with a 12 round decision in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Gomez, as WBC Cruiserweight Champion, had numbers that would have many talking about him as a future Hall of Famer, had it not been precisely because he reigned at cruiserweight, not precisely the largest social hangout place of all time great fighters. He had ten defenses, including wins over former Champions Dominguez, Jorge Castro, and Imamu Mayfield, who was easily dominated in three rounds. The sky was the limit for Gomez. So he decided to go up.

Gomez was doing fine as a heavyweight until another fellow Hispanic Heavyweight, Yanqui Diaz, scored the mother of upsets by knocking Gomez out. Not only did Diaz knock Gomez out, but he did so in the first round. Having said adios to his undefeated record, the Cuban settled on regaining his status in boxing, but it would prove harder than he imagined. Over the next two years, he would box sporadically, and when he did, it was usually against unknown boxers. One exception was former WBC Heavyweight Champion, Oliver McCall, a faded version of the man who twice fought Lennox Lewis at that and with whom Gomez fought to a ten round no-contest, in a fight that Gomez had won. The no contest was a result of a positive drug test that Gomez would deny and attempt to protest.

On February 10 of this year, Gomez scored a mildly significant victory when he blew by Adenilson Rodrigues in round one to conquer the WBC Latino Heavyweight Title, in only 33 seconds.

Will Gomez enjoy similar success against other heavyweights? It would be safe to say that for now, it looks unlikely. Not precisely because of his loss to Diaz, although that does have a bit to do with it. But Sonny Liston was out-pointed by Marty Marshall way before he became Heavyweight Champion of the world, and George Foreman was used as a punching bag by Jimmy Young in the last five rounds of their fight, by Evander Holyfield throughout a good portion of theirs and by Tommy Morrison, losing to those three on points before regaining the heavyweight title and securing a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. As you can see, one loss does not mean the end of one's days as a contender. Just ask current IBF Champion, Wladimir Klitschko.

There are two aspects to Gomez's candidacy as a heavyweight challenger. One is his age. At 33, a person is young enough to be considered a cool parent, to participate successfully in most sports, and have a bright future in business. But in boxing, 33 is sometimes ancient. We are talking about boxing geriatrics here when we talk about guys and girls past their thirties who go on putting on gloves and trunks to make a living. But Gomez only has one loss and, if well managed, we may actually see him challenge one of the major champions in the future. Whether he will win a major title or not may depend on which champion he faces.

Another aspect is his WBC Cruiserweight Title belt. I know what many say about boxing belts, especially ones earned at the cruiserweight division. Nevertheless, because he was a champion, his belt would produce the illusion that he has a chance at beating any champion at any time, just because the moment someone says that a fighter is a former champion. People will think he or she may have a chance, so, in theory, he could get a title shot only by being what he already is, a former WBC Cruiserweight Champ.

Against Klitschko and WBO Champion Shannon Briggs, Gomez would probably lose, and he may have a better chance against WBC Champion Oleg Maskaev or WBA Champion Nikolay Valuev. But then again one remembers Foreman, Liston and all those other guys who recovered from upset losses to win championships, and one can't help but think that maybe there is still time, and a chance, that Gomez will join those guys, and not the number of Hispanics whose heavyweight dreams backfired them on their faces.

04-15-2007, 12:48 PM
Against Klitschko and WBO Champion Shannon Briggs, Gomez would probably lose,

I don't necessarily agree with this part, especially not Briggs, but the article is objective and pretty good.