By Jake Donovan
Frankie Gomez is set to make his HBO debut this weekend, taking on his toughest test to date as he faces former three-division champ Humberto Soto. The bout serves as the televised co-feature to a highly anticipated slugfest between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and James Kirkland, live from Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
Upwards of 35,000 fans are expected to pack the ballpark for an event carrying a Cinco de Mayo theme, in honor of the Mexican holiday that precedes fight week. Gomez—an unbeaten contender of Mexican descent from East L.A.—is not only up to the task, but views the opportunity as a chance to prove he belongs with the best in a loaded 140 lb. division.
“If it were up to me, I’d have fought for a title five fights ago,” insists Gomez (18-0, 13KOs), who has been out of the ring since a wide points win over Vernon Paris last July. “That part is up to my team—Golden Boy (Promotions), my matchmakers, they decide who I fight and I go out and fight them. But I’ll fight anybody.”
It says a lot that the 23-year old Gomez is willing to take on Soto following an inactive stretch of more than nine months. The layoff doesn’t seem to bother the young boxer, nor does his team seem particularly concerned about its thoroughbred looking anything but stellar this weekend against a tough competitor.
While nobody is looking past Soto, this weekend represents the litmus test for how soon Gomez can move to the next level.
“Frankie’s ready,” believes Eric Gomez (no relation to the boxer), vice president of Golden Boy Promotions. “He’s been ready for a while. It was about a year-and-a-half ago, he sparred with (top 140 lb. contender) Lucas Matthysse and was handling him.
“We will see how he comes out on Saturday. If he is to become the superstar we believe he will be, he’s gotta have these fights. It’s a hot division, but he can fight anybody. It’s a strong division… but there’s nobody (at 140 lbs.) that scares us.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox