By Jake Donovan
A year ago, red-hot newcomer Frankie ‘Pitbull’ Gomez was sitting on top of the world.
These days, he’ll merely settle for standing in a boxing ring.
The latter wish comes true for the troubled 20-year old prospect, who fights tonight after an 11-month hiatus mired in legal troubles. Gomez headlines tonight’s Telefutura Solo Boxeo telecast, as he faces Manuel Leyva in a scheduled eight-round bout at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, California.
Gomez weighed 145.6 lb for the bout, the second heaviest of his still promising career. Leyva (21-8, 12KO), who has lost seven of his last eight contests over the past two years, came in at 147 lb.
The fight marks the first time Gomez fights since Dec. ’11, when he stopped James Hope in the 3rd round of a non-televised bout against James Hope. The performance came on the undercard of a Showtime doubleheader, though two months before the network began airing select lead-in bouts on sister network Showtime Extreme.
It’s hardly all that Gomez has missed out on in recent times, though he only has himself to blame. The East LA native was forced to withdraw from the Los Angeles portion of last September’s ‘Star Power’ pay-per-view card after suffering an injury less than a week before fight night.
The setback was far more forgivable than the series of events which lead to his forced downtime for much of 2012. Gomez was slated to appear on the 2012 debut of Shobox in early January, but legal troubles slammed the brakes on that proposal. Two separate arrests in the span of four days included felony charges that resulted in Gomez spending time behind bars.
His release from prison earlier this year motivated a pugilistic makeover. Once labeled a lazy fighter on the verge of becoming wasted talent, Gomez resurfaced at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, training under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.
Saturday’s showcase against Leyva won’t put Gomez immediately where he left off, though still represents a step in the right direction. The prospect was signed by Golden Boy Promotions in large part to his career promise reminiscent of a young Oscar de la Hoya, whom Gomez views as a personal hero as a Mexican-American from his corner of the world.
The arrests earlier this year sadly put his career on hold, forcing his handlers to question the serious investment into his career. Gomez is now on the path to redemption, hoping that each win puts the past that much further in the rearview mirror.
Frankie Gomez, 145.6 lb vs. Manuel Leyva, 147 lb. – 8 rds, welterweight (televised main event)
Jamie Kavanaugh, 134.8 lb vs. Ramon Valadez, 134.2 lb – 8 rds, lightweight (televised co-feature)
Joet Gonzalez, 122.2 lb vs. Victor Serrano, 121.8 lb – 4 rds, super bantamweight (TV swing bout)
Juan Gonzalez, 160.8 lb vs. Yosmani Abreu, 155.7 lb – 4 rds, middleweight (TV swing bout)
Gerald Washington, 245.6 lb vs. Brandon Spencer, 297.2 lb – 4 rds, heavyweight
Ulises Sierra, 169.6 lb vs. Ricardo Pinell, 165 lb – 4 rds, super middleweight
The Telefutura Solo Boxeo broadcast airs live at 11:00PM ET/8:00PM PT (local time).
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox