By Jake Donovan
The thing about starting young and showing early promise is that there’s plenty of time to learn from your mistakes should things go wrong on the way up the ladder.
For Frankie Gomez, the only deterrent in his promising career to date has been run-ins with the law. The period surrounding his 20th birthday was spent in California courtrooms, forced to withdraw from scheduled fights (including a planned Shobox headliner) as he was forced to respond to—and eventually serve time for—outstanding warrants.
Once again full steam ahead with his career, the 23-year old Gomez (18-0, 13KOs) is ready for his biggest stage yet. The fighting pride of East L.A.—his roots drawing comparisons to his promoter and mentor Oscar de la Hoya—prepares for his HBO debut, which comes May 9 in a scheduled 10-round bout with veteran Humberto Soto.
The bout takes place at Minute Maid Park in Houston, where an estimated 35,000–40,000 fans are expected to pack the ballpark. Most will be coming for the main event, as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez faces James Kirkland in a bout that marks the wildly popular Mexican icon’s celebrated return to HBO.
It will be Gomez’ big step, but a necessary progression in his career as he believes even bigger fights are well on the horizon. As a fighter who can make 140 lbs. or 147 lbs., Gomez finds himself hitting his prime at a time when his desired weight classes are the most lucrative the sport has to offer.
With the line running plenty deep for a dream showdown with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, more realistic goals are set on the divisions’ other top fighters. Among them, World junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia surfaces to the top of the list, a fight Gomez would love to see happen anytime within the next 12 months.
“I think he’s a tremendous fighter,” Gomez said of the reigning 140 lb. king, who faces Lamont Peterson in a non-title fight next weekend in Brooklyn. “Hopefully one day I get to fight him. I think I’ll be ready by the end of his year or maybe next year. It’s just up to my manager and Golden Boy Promotions.”
While Gomez is fine with whatever is offered, his handlers would rather live in the moment than to offer thoughts on what remains at the moment a hypothetical situation.
“We’re just going to take it one fight at a time,” insisted Oscar de la Hoya in a well-crafted effort to deflect talks of advancing his rising young prospect at the desire of others. “We can talk about how he’s on top of the world, and that he’ll do this and that. For now, we’re going to take it one fight at a time.
“Obviously if he’s wiping everyone out, we’ll step it up. We’re not going to say we’ll be careful but we are going to be strategic. But we don’t want to have other champions watching fights and then run away.”
Gomez has been out of the ring slnce last July, when he scored a 10-round shutout over Vernon Paris. The upcoming showdown with Soto (65-8-2, 35KOs) marks his most experienced challenger to date.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox