Boxing


Klitschko vs Gomez: Does Juan Carlos Gomez Have A Chance?

gomezPaul McCreath: Now that Juan Carlos Gomez and Vitali Klitschko have reached agreement for their WBC mandatory heavyweight title match tentatively scheduled for sometime this spring it is probably a good time to start talking about this fight instead of the mythical match between Vitali and David Haye that now appears to be dead in the water. Some fans may need a little education before they get excited about this one since Gomez is not exactly a household name in America.

Juan Carlos is a former top Cuban amateur who defected from his home country and went to Germany where he has been fighting as a pro since 1995. You would wonder how he could be a world class fighter for many years and still be unknown in America but that is how it is with all boxers who do not campaign in USA. I am not suggesting anything with this statement, just repeating what many fans,lots of them Americans, have said on these threads..

By 1998 Gomez had acquired the WBC cruiserweight title by outpointing the reigning belt holder,the veteran Marcelo Dominguez over 12 rounds. Over the next 3 years he would defend that title 10 times, all by KO except for the rugged Dominguez who again went the distance in a rematch in 1999. It is true that the challengers were not quite candidates for future hall of fame honors.

The names Alex Illin, Rodney Gordon, Bruce Scott and Napoleon Tagoe among others do not strike fear in the hearts of cruiserweight champions of any sanctioning body. At least Gomez knocked them all out.

In August of 2001 Juan Carlos moved up to heavyweight for one fight against former cruiser champ Al Cole and scored a 6th round KO in a bout held in Las Vegas. This was one of the few times Gomez has appeared in America. In December he dropped back to 200 pounds for one last appearance when he stopped Pietro Aurino of Italy in the 6th round of a title bout. The following February he vacated his title to move permanently into the heavyweight division.

At this point I should clarify one thing.Gomez is not a small heavy. He stands 6 foot 3 and 1/2 inches tall and usually weighs in the 220's. Last time out he was 233 and 3/4 pounds, perhaps a troubling trend if he continues to gain weight. While he will give away both height and weight to Vitali that is because the champ is really big. Gomez is about average size for a heavyweight.

Since moving up to fight the big boys Gomez has had a few inactive periods when he was idle for several months. Two of these were 14 and 11 months long. He has had frequent disputes with his promoters and has left all three of the major German firms at one time or another. He went back to the last one, Ahmed Oner who got him this fight. Juan Carlos has made a few enemies and has been accused of being a drug user. In fact his first bout with Oliver McCall was declared no contest after he failed a post fight drug test. Gomez had originally been awarded the decision. He still disputes the drug test finding and claims he was set up by the promoters who were angry because he had left their firm. Perhaps we will never know the real truth.

Overall Juan Carlos has a 44-1 record with 35 KOs. The lone loss came in August of 2004 by first round K0 against fellow Cuban Yanqui Diaz in a bout in Texas. Most fans consider this result a fluke. Diaz was pretty ordinary and Gomez has never shown any sign of a weak chin in his other fights. He just got clocked. It happens to all heavies once or twice. His 35 KOs suggest he is a much better puncher than is often credited. Although he is known more as a slick boxer with fast hands he hit hard enough to put the durable Sinan Samil Sam down in their fight in Buffalo in September of 2003. The fight did go the distance with the Cuban a clear winner.

Gomez qualified for this title bout by defeating Oliver McCall in a rematch eliminator then won a second eliminator by a clear decision over the big Ukrainian Vlad Virchis whose only other loss was a close one to the undefeated Ruslan Chagaev, the WBA champ in recess. Make no mistake about it Gomez is pretty much a complete package. He is 35 years old but still 2 years younger than Vitali. He will be the underdog but this is no mismatch.

That brings us to Vitali.He has a 36-2 record with 35 KOs. His only defeats came on injuries against Chris Byrd and Lennox Lewis. He was leading on points in both and in fact has never trailed on points in any fight. Only one man, Timo Hoffman has ever gone the distance with Klitschko. He won the WBO title from Hide then lost it to Byrd after two easy defenses he fought Lewis on short notice then later won the vacant WBC belt from Corrie Sanders after Lewis retired.

He dispatched Danny Williams in brutal fashion and was to meet Hasim Rahman next but after several postponements due to injuries he finally retired as the champion emeritus..After 4 years out he returned to the ring last October and destroyed Sam Peter in 8 rounds to win back his title. Whether Sam was that bad or Vitali was that good is still a subject for much debate. He is considered by most along with his younger brother Wlad to be one of the two best heavies in the world right now. He stands around 6 foot seven and one half inches tall and normally weighs about 250 pounds. He is always in top physical condition.

Some fans believe that Gomez' slick style will give Vitali trouble but he is not the first clever boxer to try his luck with Vitali. Herbie Hide was very fast and he went out in 2 rounds. Larry Donald made it to the 10th and of course Chris Byrd was trailing until Vitali's injury. Vitali seems to handle all styles.

As for the question in the title,does Gomez have a chance?Of course he does especially if Klitschko gets hurt again or suddenly gets old. Juan Carlos is a very good fighter but I suspect that by the late rounds Vitali's jab and his power will wear him down and cause a stoppage. What do you think?

Article posted on 13.01.2009



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