International Boxing Hall of Fame

Wilfredo Gomez

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Statistics
Real name Wilfredo Gómez
Nickname(s) Bazooka
Rated at super bantamweight
Nationality Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rican
Birth date October 29, 1956 (1956-10-29) (age 51)
Birth place San Juan, Puerto Rico
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 48
Wins 44
Wins by KO 42
Losses 3
Draws 1
Medal record
Competitor for Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico
Men’s Boxing
World Amateur Championships
Gold Havana 1974 Bantamweight

Wilfredo Gómez (born October 29, 1956) is a former boxer and three time world champion. Nicknamed "Bazooka", Gómez had one of the highest knockout win percentages in professional boxing, winning 88 percent of his bouts by knockout. Ring Magazine ranked Gómez as thirteenth on a list of the all-time greatest punchers in 2003.

Contents

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 Biography

Gómez was born in a poor area of Las Monjas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He has admitted to newspapers that, as a little child, he had to fight off bullies on Las Monjas' streets. He has told some Puerto Rican newspapers that he felt he was born to fight because of that situation. Gómez's father was a taxi driver and his mother was a homemaker. Gómez himself reportedly used a bicycle as means of transportation when he was young, and he sold candy to earn pocket money before becoming an amateur boxer.[1]

Amateur career and professional debut

Gómez won the gold medal at the 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and 1974 World Championships in Havana, Cuba before turning professional.[2] He also competed in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, getting eliminated by an Egyptian rival in the Olympic's first round of bouts.[3] He compiled an overall record of 96 wins and 3 defeats as an amateur boxer. Because of his family's economical situation, he decided not to wait for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, opting to begin making money right after the Cuban competition instead. Coming from Puerto Rico, he settled for less money and exposure from the American media, and moved to Costa Rica, where he began to tour all of Central America in hopes of finding matches. His professional debut came in Panama City, Panama, where he fought to a draw with Jacinto Fuentes.

Professional career

After this inauspicious debut, he reeled off a streak of 32 knockout wins in a row.[2] Including wins over Fuentes, who was dispatched in 2 rounds in a rematch, and future world champion Alberto Davila, who lasted 9 rounds before being defeated. His 32 knockout wins in a row make him the world champion with the longest knockout streak in history, placing him in third place behind Lamar Clark (44) and Billy Fox (43) for the all-time knockout streak. Among world champions, Gómez had the longest knockout winning streak; neither Clark nor Fox won world titles.[1]

Gómez's knockout streak caught the eye of the World Junior Featherweight champion Dong Hyung Yen, who travelled to San Juan, Puerto Rico to defend his crown against Gómez. Yen had a promising start, dropping Gómez 30 seconds into the bout, but Gómez picked himself up and eventually won the crown, his first world title, with a 12th round knockout.[1] His first defense took him to the Far East, where he beat former world champion Royal Kobayashi in 3 rounds in Tokyo.[1] Kobayashi had lasted 5 rounds vs Alexis Arguello and 10 rounds vs Roberto Duran when Duran was a Featherweight. Next was Ryu Tomonari in a small city of Thailand. He lasted 2 rounds.

Gómez's streak reached 32 knockouts in a row. Those 32 knockouts in a row included what is generally considered to be his biggest victory ever, a five round defeat of World Bantamweight champion Carlos Zarate, who was 55-0 with 54 knockout wins coming into their San Juan bout.[4] Also included in that streak was future world champion Leo Cruz, beaten in 13 rounds at San Juan. After recording his 32rd. knockout win in a row, he moved up in weight to face the world Featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez of Mexico.[5] Not realizing Sanchez was the defending champion for this bout, Gómez went in allegedly ill trained and lost the bout by a knockout in 8 rounds in Las Vegas, and later said he had learned never underestimate a foe as a result.

Hoping to get a rematch with Sanchez, Gómez went back to the super bantamweight division, where he got a dispense from the WBC to make 2 preparation bouts before defending his title again.[6] He did so and won 2 non title bouts in a row , both by knockout in the 2nd round, one over Jose Luis Soto, who was a stablemate of Julio César Chávez back in Culiacan, Mexico. Wins over future world champ Juan 'Kid' Meza, knocked out in six in Atlantic City, and Juan Antonio Lopez, knocked out in ten as part of the Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney undercard followed.[6] But all chances of a rematch with Sanchez were dashed when Sanchez died in a car crash outside Mexico City the morning of August 12th, 1982. Mexico's boxing fans and general public mourned their gone champion, and boxing fans across Latin America joined Mexico in their tragedy. Gómez, who was training to defend against Mexican Roberto Rubaldino only 5 days later, took a quick trip to Mexico to offer Sanchez flowers and then returned to Puerto Rico the same afternoon. He beat Rubaldino by knockout in 8 rounds and made 1 more title defense, against the Mexican bantamweight world champ Lupe Pintor in the Carnival of Champions in New Orleans, winning by knockout in 14 rounds.[6] The Pintor contest was the only time a Gómez fight was showcased on HBO, which at the time exclusively showcased the largest boxing fights, much like the Pay Per View system does currently.

By the time he was done with the Junior Featherweights, Gómez had established a division record of 17 defenses, and a world record of most defenses in a row won by knockout, all his defenses finishing before the established distance limit.[7]

Featherweight division

He then re-tried winning the Featherweight title and this time, he achieved his dream, winning his second world title by dethroning Juan Laporte, a fellow Puerto Rican who had won the title left vacant after Sanchez died. He beat Laporte by a 12 round unanimous decision. This time, however, it didn't last that long. Ahead on all scorecards, Gómez was the victim of a rally by Azumah Nelson of Ghana who knocked him out in 11 exhilarating rounds in San Juan, December 8, 1984.

Gómez wanted either a rematch with Nelson or a shot at Junior Lightweight world champ Rocky Lockridge of New Jersey, whichever came first. Lockridge was first to offer Gómez a try, and the 2 battled a closely scored 15 round bout in San Juan, with Gómez being given a unanimous 15 round decision, which many experts have said Lockridge deserved, but also which in the opinion of most who saw it live, was a justified decision.[6]

This reign also came to an end quick, Gómez being handed his 3rd loss at the hands of young Alfredo Layne by knockout in 9 rounds. Layne lost the title in his own first defense to South Africa's Bryan Mitchell, and it became obvious Gómez's best years had gone by, so he retired after this fight.

Last fights and retirement

Gómez tried a comeback in 1988 and 1989, but after winning 2 more bouts by knockout, he realized boxing wasn't in his heart anymore and retired for good. He later moved to Venezuela, where he ran into drug problems, causing him trouble with the law and spending some months in jail.[8] He attended a rehabilitation center in Colombia. Gómez rebounded and is now back in Puerto Rico, where he has managed to stay off drugs. He has helped the Hector 'Macho' Camacho with the training of Camacho's son Hector Camacho Jr., who is a boxer in the Jr Welterweight division. In 1998, Gňmez became a born-again Christian. [9]

On May 18, 2003, Gómez returned to Panama, where he was received by Duran and Eusebio Pedroza, among others. In a message geared towards Panamanians, he expressed thanks to that country, calling it his second country and saying, among other things "I'm very motivated now that I will return to Puerto Rico, and no one should be surprised if I buy an apartment in Panama and move my family here".[10] However, he bought a house in Kissimmee, Florida in 2006, and plans to move there by May of that year. Gómez has three daughters Jennifer, Maria Helena and Linselina and one son Wilfredo Junior.[11]

Gómez had a record of 44 win, 3 losses and 1 draw, with 42 knock out wins. In 1978, he was named Boxing Illustrated's fighter of the year. He is now a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2003 a biographical film entitled Bazooka: The Battles of Wilfredo Gómez was produced by Cinemar Films, the documental was directed by Mario Diaz and was filmed in New York City.[12][13]

Professional Championships

Preceded by
Dong Hyung Yen
Super Bantamweight champion (WBC)
1977–1983
Vacates
Succeeded by
Jaime Garza
Preceded by
Juan Laporte
Featherweight champion (WBC)
1984
Succeeded by
Azumah Nelson
Preceded by
Rocky Lockridge
Junior Lightweight champion (WBA)
1985–1986
Succeeded by
Alfredo Layne