Michael Rosenthal

Fight Night Club: New trainer, new location, new Frankie Gomez?

 

Frankie Gomez faces Jason Davis in the main event of Fight Night Club on Thursday at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. The card will be televised at 8 p.m. live on Fox Sports Net and streamed live on RingTV.com. Also, tickets starting at $18.50 are available. Tickets may be purchased by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000 online at www.ticketmaster.com or through any TicketMaster outlet or the STAPLES Center box office. Group tickets are also available by calling 1-877-AEG TICKETS (1-877-234-8425).

 

Frankie Gomez has been caught between wanting to be a normal teenager and the next great boxer.

The talented 19-year-old, one of the top amateur fighters of his era, acknowledged that he has allowed distractions – i.e. hanging with friends – to get in the way of his training. He admitted that he has given less than 100 percent at times “because I just wanted to get through workouts.”

That’s bad news for a young fighter who wants to make his living as a professional boxer.

There’s good news, though: Gomez and his handlers recognized after a few less-than-stellar performances that the young man needed a change, which led them to veteran trainer Abel Sanchez.

Gomez has kept lifelong mentor Ronnie Rivota in camp but trained for his fight against Jason Davis on Thursday in the mountain town of Big Bear, Calif., where Sanchez lives and trains his fighters, far away from Gomez's distractions.

Gomez, who was at high altitude for about six weeks, is pleased with his progress and Sanchez is convinced he has something special in Gomez.

“Ronnie could only take me so far,” Gomez said. “I needed a trainer to take me to the next level. Ronnie’s the one who started me out (at 5 years old) and everything and is still in my corner. Abel is teaching me new things, though.

“Things have been going good. I like training up there.”

Gomez (8-0, 6 knockouts) is a fierce fighter, one who’s mission seems to have been to decapitate his opponent as soon as possible. Hence six KOs in his first six fights.

The junior welterweight seemed to struggle in his next two fights, though, at least by his standards. He fairly easily outpointed journeymen Ramon Montano and Jose Alfredo Lugo but had a harder time than he should have. He looked raw.

Gomez said he was merely fighting, not boxing. Technique had ceased to become an important part of his arsenal.

Sanchez can see through that, however. He has been bowled over by Gomez’s natural gifts, which he believes he can develop.

“For a young man who is 19 years old … what a talent!” said Sanchez, who isn’t prone to hyperbole. “… He came up to Big Bear to train [with Rivota] in March of last year. I saw a young man who worked hard but didn’t have a sense of direction. He was just a talented kid who was smart but didn’t know what to do with his talent.

“Now, coming up to Big Bear, I’ve laid out a system. He’s really caught on to what it takes to be at the level he wants to be, which is champion. And his development will be a lot quicker because he has that talent.”

Sanchez said Gomez has all the physical tools – speed, power, strength and the meanness of one of Sanchez’s former fighters, Terry Norris.

“The ferociousness Terry had is what made him a great fighter. Frankie has that,” he said.

Gomez seems to have adapted resonably well living away from family and friends.

He said it’s “very hard” to be too serious about anything at his age but is determined to make the most of his gifts, to box for a living and become a world champion one day.

Is he bored sometimes being isolated? Sure. Is it worth it? Yes. He understands that he’s in an unusual position.

“What 19 year old wouldn’t want to be in my shoes?” he said.

Sanchez sees a change in Gomez’s approach to training.

“I think he needed the change of address,” he said. “I think he’s re-dedicated himself. If you saw his last fight [in January] and saw him now, you’d see a big difference. That’s no knock on his trainer. A fighter has to give you effort. If he doesn’t, it’s not going to happen.

"Going to training camp, getting away from the norm, I think has been eye opening. I think he can be the best 140-pounder in the area.”

That’s was Gomez and everyone around has in mind.

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