1. Wilfredo Gomez
Record: 44-3-1 with 42 knockouts
Years Active: 1974-1989
Title Reign: May 21, 1977-December 3, 1982
Style: Classic boxer-puncher
Strengths: Boxing skills, one-punch power in both hands, unbreakable will
Why Is He Ranked? Although Barrera gave it a mighty run, Gomez remains the division’s gold standard more than two decades after he voluntarily ended his five-year reign. Holds the divisional record with 17 defenses, but more impressively his 17 consecutive title-defense KOs is the longest in boxing history, far surpassing Roberto Duran’s then-record of 11. Used speed, guile and some dirty fighting to end Carlos Zarate’s 52-fight winning streak via fifth round TKO and concluded his reign in historic style with a monumental 14th round TKO of Lupe Pintor. In this era of division-hopping Gomez’s records will likely stand forever but the fact he achieved them despite nightmarish weight-making difficulties makes his accomplishments even more mind-boggling.
Best Opponents at 122: Dong-Kyun Yum (KO 12), Royal Kobayashi (KO 3), Leo Cruz (KO 13), Carlos Zarate (KO 5), Nicky Perez (KO 5), Juan Meza (KO 6), Juan Antonio Lopez (KO 7, KO 10), Roberto Rubaldino (KO 8), Lupe Pintor (KO 14)
Also Faced in Other Divisions: Albert Davila (KO 9), Salvador Sanchez (KO by 8), Juan LaPorte (W 12), Azumah Nelson (KO by 11), Rocky Lockridge (W 15), Alfredo Layne (KO by 9)
Honorable Mentions: Kennedy McKinney, Welcome Ncita, Antonio Cermeno, Juan Manuel Lopez and Sergio Palma.
Lee Groves can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, West Virginia. He is a full member of the BWAA, from whom he has won five writing awards, and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc. and the author of “Tales From the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics.” To order, please visit Amazon.com or e-mail the author to arrange for autographed copies.