Juan Carlos Gomez: "I am sorry for not keeping my word - Vitali Klitschko is a great champion!"
All photos by Pavel Terekhov -- click here to view huge Klitschko-Gomez photo gallery --Former world cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez failed to fulfil his great dream of becoming heavyweight champion of the world in his first shot at the crown against WBC titlist Vitali Klitschko Saturday night in Stuttgart, Germany..
"Dr. Ironfist" proved to be too much for "The Black Panther" who came out strong but lost by t.k.o. in round 9. Still Gomez showed great heart and a good chin taking some huge right hands from Klitschko. Although his right eye was swollen and he suffered a cut in the early rounds Gomez kept attacking and putting pressure on Klitschko who was out of breath when the fight was finally stopped by referee Daniel Van de Wiele from Belgium in round 9.
Gomez went down after some brutal shots in round 7 but beat the count to survive some hard blows in round 8 as well. After another knockdown and a point deduction to Vitali due to an unintentional headbutt the fight was stopped when the Cuban was defenseless in the ropes. Klitschko was clearly ahead on all three scorecards as well.
24 hours after the fight "The Black Panther" returned from Stuttgart to Hamburg by train instead of driving in a ‘Maybach’ his promoter Ahmet Öner had promised him in case of a win. Of course, Gomez was a little disappointed but also pleased with his own performance: “I have to apologize to my daughter for not keeping my word to bring home the world championship belt. I was convinced that I had a chance to beat Vitali. I tried very hard but he has been the better man last night. He is a great champion. That's life: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But 'The Black Panther' will definitely be back. It's still Showtime!"
WBC champion Vitali Klitschko showed his challenger respect for his great effort: "This was a hard piece of work for me. We knew that Juan is a very good boxer. Today he proved that he also is a very tough man. He was definitely a worthy challenger. I think we both showed a great fight although I feel that I was a little bit too hectic in the beginning."
“I was surprised that Juan was this well prepared”, added champion Coach Fritz Sdunek. “You can tell that he really came here to win and fight. Vitali overpaced in the 5th but finally did what he had to do.”
ARENA-CEO Ahmet Öner is already planning the next steps for Gomez: "After this fight Juan deserves to take a short break and recover from all the stress and the hard work. He proved to be one of the best heavyweight boxers in the world today. It's no shame to lose to the best and Vitali showed that he is the best right now. I am sure that after this great heavyweight fight Juan will still appear in the top spots of the world ratings. We will try to match him with a top ranked man - maybe from the WBA ratings - in his next fight so we can hopefully get another shot at a world title. I think Juan would easily beat Nikolai Valuev or Ruslan Chagaev. He definitely has what it takes to become heavyweight champion of the world and he still has time to make his dream come true!"