Frankie Gomez flattened Pavel Miranda in less than 50 seconds in his last fight. The undefeated prospect expects a much tougher fight against Lanard Lane on Saturday. Photo / Harry How-Golden Boy Promotions
Frankie Gomez was expected to go a few rounds in his last fight, a scheduled eight-round bout against Pavel Miranda on the Amir Khan-Carlos Molina undercard last December in Los Angeles.
Miranda had gone the eight-round distance with undefeated welterweight prospect Jose Benavides just two months earlier and even managed to badly rock Gomez’s amateur rival in the final round. So, Gomez’s promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, figured the durable Tijuana journeyman would be a good test to see how the 20-year-old East L.A. native was progressing under new trainer Freddie Roach after sitting out the first 10 months of 2012 due to repeated run-ins with the law.
The junior welterweight/welterweight was arrested twice last January for a number of infractions ranging from traffic violations to driving with a suspended driver’s license to the serious felony of narcotics possession. Many in the industry wondered if Gomez was a lost cause, even with Roach guiding him.
But Gomez let the industry – along with the fans and boxing media inside the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena – know how well he’s been working with the hall-of-fame trainer with an electrifying one-punch (a booming overhand right) first-round KO of Miranda.
“I love the guys over at Top Rank, but they told me that Gomez was just a gym fighter when I started training him,” Roach told RingTV.com during a Tuesday workout with his latest pupil. “After he knocked out Miranda in one round, I told them he’s not a gym fighter anymore.”
Gomez is clearly more than a “gym fighter,” but the jury is still out on whether the 2009 world amateur championships silver medalist, who signed with Golden Boy to much fanfare in 2010, deserves to be called a “prospect.” The aggressive boxer-puncher has gotten the job done so far in the ring, winning all 14 of his pro bouts (11 by knockout), but his out-of-the-ring troubles have brought his maturity and common sense into question.
Once again, Golden Boy seeks to get answers by putting him in tough, this time against Lanard Lane in the main event of a Fox Sports Net/Fox Deportes-televised card on Saturday at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Lane (13-2, 8 KOs) is a 30-year-old Philadelphian whose only losses are eight-round decisions to a then-undefeated Mike Dallas Jr. in 2010 and once-beaten Joseph Elegele last June. The majority decision loss to Elegele – a 6-foot-tall southpaw with good power – could have easily been a draw or scored in favor of the Houston-based firefighter.
“Golden Boy isn’t babying Gomez,” Roach said. “This is a tough fight, but from what I’ve seen of Gomez in here (the Wild Card Boxing Club) I think he’s ready for a good, but part-time fighter.”
Gomez, who started training at the Wild Card last summer, is expecting a good fight from Lane, who has fast hands, solid fundamentals and decent power.
“He looks sharp from what I’ve seen on YouTube,” Gomez said. “He knows what he’s doing. I think he’s going to give me a good fight.”
Gomez says he wants quality rounds since his first “comeback” bout last year – a third-round TKO of journeyman Manuel Leyva in November – didn’t go long and the Miranda fight only lasted 48 seconds.
“I was hoping to get rounds in against Miranda,” Gomez said. “I wasn’t expecting to drop him. I wanted to go the full eight.
“I need rounds. That’s why try to get as many as I can in sparring. I got up to 11 rounds (a sparring session) in this camp.”
Training with Roach at the famous Hollywood-based gym has clearly been a positive influence on Gomez, who not only stayed out of trouble over the holidays but also kept his weight below 152 pounds with daily running and exercise. In the past, Gomez would often balloon to 165 pounds – and get into trouble – between fights.
“It’s been a good experience training here,” he said. “Freddie has taught me a lot and there’s always good sparring here. You got brawlers who can take everything you dish out and keep coming at you, and you got guys who can box you from a distance. It’s all good work here.”
Gomez says he’s also benefitted from training around world-class fighters who care currently training at the gym, such as WBA/WBO flyweight beltholder Brian Viloria and WBO middleweight titleholder Peter Quillin.
“When you’re around champions you can’t expect to do anything else but get better and more motivated,” he said.
Last year Gomez sparred with Manny Pacquiao and some of Roach’s best up-and-comers, including undefeated welterweight puncher Wale Omotoso (23-0, 19 KOs).
“50 Cent came by to watch him spar with Manny and he looked so good that 50 wanted to sign him,” Roach laughed. “I told 50 to leave him alone.”
Roach believes Gomez has a lot of raw ability and underrated ring smarts.
“He’s got quick hands and power but what I like is that he’s very clever,” Roach said. “He knows how to get angles when he’s on the inside and he knows how to escape when he’s pressed to the ropes. He’s puncher and he’s a boxer. He can do both but I think he’s more of a boxer.”
Roach plans to continue Gomez’s boxing education after Saturday’s fight with the help of more quality sparring. The veteran trainer has been working with Denis Shafikov, THE RING’s No. 8-rated junior welterweight, for the past two weeks.
He says he’ll put Gomez in with the unbeaten (31-0-1) Russian veteran, and maybe, if things work out, another RING-rated fighter when the time is right.
On the same day Gomez spoke with RingTV.com, Victor Ortiz – who is currently looking for a new trainer – dropped by the gym to workout with Roach.
“After Victor left the gym, he whispered to me ‘When do I get to spar with him?” said Roach, who chuckled at, but also admired, Gomez’s attitude.
“When he first came to the gym he was very shy, no talking, no smile. It’s taken some time but he’s opening up, he’s progressing. His confidence is growing.”
It’s a start.
Photos / Harry How-Golden Boy Promotions-Getty Images
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer