Jorge Cota is prepared to advance from trialhorse to thoroughbred.

The hard-nosed junior middleweight from Los Mochis, Mexico has seen his number called many times, most often as a durable opponent for the division’s top tier talent. On paper, it appears to be the case this weekend, as the 34-year-old slugger is set to face Cuban knockout artist Yoelvis Gomez (5-0, 5KOs).

The scheduled ten-round junior middleweight fight is designed as a potential breakout fight for Gomez. The other side of the equation is here to permanently change the perception about his own role in the sport.  

“This is the type of opportunity where you kick the door down. I'm going to make sure they never view me as a stepping stone again,” Cota told “I’m flattered that my team has the confidence to put me in there with all the top guys. They know I am a quality fighter ready for any challenger. At the same time, it kind of pisses me off because I’m viewed by a lot of people as a stepping stone. I’m capable of a lot more than being a name on someone’s record.”

Cota’s bout with Gomez is the co-feature to the David Benavidez-David Lemieux interim WBC super middleweight title fight from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona (Saturday, SHOWTIME, 10:00 pm ET/7:00 pm PT).

For a long stretch, Cota (30-5, 27KOs) was groomed to be a player in the talent-rich junior middleweight division. The pinnacle of his career came in a ten-round win over Yudel Jhonson as part of the inaugural telecast of the now defunct Premier Boxing Champions (PBC): The Next Round series on Bounce TV in August 2015. The bout was intended as part of a four-man tournament, with Cota to have next faced second-generation boxer John Jackson who also won on the undercard.

Neither the fight with Jackson nor the balance of the tournament ever materialized. Cota was instead dealt a 17-month inactive stretch followed by a cold March 2017 assignment with a then-unbeaten Erickson Lubin, suffering a fourth-round stoppage loss. Three wins followed before coming up just short versus Jeison ‘Banana’ Rosario in April 2019, with Rosario going on to dethrone IBF/WBA junior middleweight titlist Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams one fight later.

Cota’s path was considerably different. He was thrown in as a late replacement for an injured Tony Harrison in an eventual third-round knockout in June 2019 to Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs), who has since emerged as the undisputed junior middleweight champion.

A modest two-fight win streak followed before suffering a fourth-round stoppage to Sebastian Fundora (19-0-1, 13KOs), who is now an interim titlist. Cota long contended that their May 2021 bout was stopped prematurely, that his unfair reputation as a gatekeeper was held against him in their Fox Sports Pay-Per-View undercard bout in Carson, California.

The 55-week gap between fights comes in part due to his fight with Gomez being delayed by nearly two months. That extra time has given the veteran boxer plenty of time to prepare for what he insists will be a long overdue breakout moment in his otherwise respectable career.

“I want to be viewed as a strong, physical fighter and who has the opportunity to go on to become an elite fighter,” vows Cota. “I definitely believe a win over Yoelvis Gomez will put me on the path to challenge for a title.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox