Michael Gomez Junior interview
If Michael Gomez Junior can deliver a small fraction of the excitement that his father of the same name generated during a hell-raising 48 fight, 14 year career – which brought British and WBU super-feather titles and saw him duel future world champions Alex Arthur, Amir Khan and Ricky Burns – he’ll have given us a career to remember.
After a promising amateur apprenticeship, the thrilling 19 year old from Moston, Manchester debuts on the Fury-Chisora undercard at the Phones 4 U Arena – where his warring father was such a star – on July 26th.
And he’s promising to rekindle the assembly of sombrero wearing bandidos who provided so much colour and passion each time ‘Pops’ popped between the ropes.
Tickets and VIP packages are available through Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or eventim.co.uk
Watch the whole card – headed by Fury-Chisora, also featuring Billy Joe Saunders challenging for the vacant European middleweight title, plus title action involving Liam Smith and Liam Walsh – tune into BoxNation, the Channel of Champions (Sky Ch.437 (HD490)/Sky Ch.546).
Recently boxing writer Glynn Evans interviewed the touted featherweight to gather some background information.
Name: Michael Gomez Junior
Born: Crumpsall, Manchester
Family background: I’ve three younger sisters and they’re all crazy. I live with my dad in Moston, Manchester. No kids of my own just yet.
Trade: Full time professional boxer.
Nickname: Gomez Junior
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? I knew my dad was a boxer but I didn’t really follow his career. I can’t remember going to too many of his fights and the only one I recall watching on tape was the Alex Arthur fight. His belts were never around the house – they are now – and his career sort of passed me by. I really weren’t that interested and dad never encouraged me to get into the boxing.
In fact, I didn’t get actively involved until I was about 14 or 15 and I’d had a fight at school. I splattered the kid so I thought I’d try out at the boxing gym for a couple of nights and the bug bit. Plenty of my mates boxed but I was much more into me football. I had trials at (Manchester) City when I was a kid.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I had about half a dozen clubs. I wasn’t really enjoying the amateur game because of all the naff politics and crap decisions so I’d constantly swap gyms hoping I’d find a new buzz.
I started under Jimmy Lewis at the Fox ABC. (One-time British lightweight champion) Anthony Crolla used to help out with the coaching there. Then I moved to the Northside club where the main coach was Joe Pennington. After that, I joined Bridgewater and was trained by (ex pro heavyweight) Lee Whitehead.
After that I was coached by Steve Maylett who was sort of affiliated to the Pool of Life gym before moving back to Lee at Bridgewater. Me dad gave me plenty of pointers and attended my fights but was never involved in actively coaching me.
I was a pretty quiet, passive kid. My first spar I just tried to walk the other kid down, steaming forward ‘square on’ and I was getting hammered. But towards the end of the spar I started getting on top so thought I might have something. I really enjoyed it.
I boxed under the name of Michael Armstrong in the amateurs but everybody knew I was Mike Gomez’s son because he attended most of my fights. I think I had 49 bouts and probably lost about a dozen. I got to a few national quarter finals and semi finals but always had a professional way about me.
If the amateur judges decided they didn’t like your style, you weren’t winning the bout. I was pretty straight forward; tried to put every opponent away. I’d always have a slow first round, begin to find my rhythm in round two then swarm all over them late on. I probably stopped about eight or nine – which isn’t too bad with the headguards and big gloves on – and it’d always be in the last round.
I was meant to enter the senior ABAs for the first time this year but opted to turn pro instead. I never got involved with the international set-up but I boxed in Finland twice plus over in Ireland, all with the Bridgewater club.
The highlight was possibly stopping a lad from Liverpool called Blane Hyland in the CYPs when we were both about 17. He got to the Senior ABA semis last year.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? The politics of the amateurs pissed me off and I didn’t really enjoy the amateurs. I always had a pro style so thought I’d be better off in the pros.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed and promoted by the Warrens and coached by Dave Murray who I first got to know when I was at the Northside club. We train over at Bobby Rimmer’s gym in Denton, the one Kerry Kayes owns.
Dave’s superfit and does all the running with me. He can go on the pads all night. Dad’s starting to show an interest again. He’s started training back at the gym.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I train at the boxing gym Monday to Friday in the morning. I’ll start with a couple of rounds skipping, shadow box for four or five rounds then do a 12 round circuit and pad session. That’ll include some bag work. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I’ll finish off with a weight session supervised by Dave.
Monday evening I have a run, Tuesdays and Thursdays I go the track, Wednesday night I have a swim and Friday I’ll do a weight loss circuit. Saturday morning I have a six mile run which includes hill work.
I’ve been around the gyms sparring some good lads. I helped Paul Butler for his (IBF) world title fight with Stuey Hall recently. I’ve also sparred Scotty Quigg and Stephen Swift from Joe Gallagher’s gym plus Ryan Burnett who’s with the Hattons. I never sparred the old man. I don’t want to hurt his feelings! He’d get out of his head and try to knock me out.
I actually enjoy the running. I’m pretty decent at the longer stuff. I least like the bar-bag. I keep knocking me knees on the bar.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I like to think I’m a fan friendly crowd pleaser. I can use my feet and box but generally choose not to. I prefer to fight inside, throwing hooks and uppercuts. I’m a pretty good body puncher.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Stay calm and use me jab more. I can get a little bit carried away.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The pros really know how to use the three minutes of a round. In the amateurs it’s a constant rush. The pros know how to pick up the pace and when to drop it.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? I can’t really split Paul Butler, Scott Quigg and Stephen Smith. Butler’s got this horrible, awkward ‘in and out’ style which makes him very difficult to nail. Quigg’s ‘non stop’ in your face, won’t leave you alone. ‘Swifty’ (Smith) is technically very good.
All time favourite fighter: Right now, I’d say Manny Pacquiao. He’s constant, non stop.
All time favourite fight: I suppose I better go with me dad stopping Alex Arthur up in Edinburgh. Better keep him sweet! It was a great fight though.
What is your routine on fight day? I don’t really have one, if I’m honest. I just get up as and when and do normal stuff. In the amateurs, I was usually tight at the weight so wouldn’t eat much and I might be weighing in on the day, early in my pro career so that probably won’t change.
I’ll probably watch boxing tapes but I do that almost every day anyway. I just do normal stuff. I don’t really worry about the fight or the opponent, I just look forward to it. It’s only once the gloves go on that I start getting my mind ready to fight. My dad is always far more nervous than I am.
Ring entrance: We’ll have the sombreros and, once I start establishing myself, I’m sure Dad’s old crew will get on board and start supporting me too.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? I’m still a teenager so I’m in no rush at the minute. After about two years I’d like to be around British title level. I believe I’ve the determination and ability to do it.
How do you relax? Just generally hang around with me mates and maybe have a kick about over the field. I used to play a lot of football plus had a go at tennis, swimming and most other sports when I was at school.
Football team: Man City. I used to have a season ticket, back when they were rubbish and never won anything. I’m going to get another one next season, hopefully.
Read: Not much. I look at the sport’s section of the newspaper and pick up the Boxing News now and again.
Films/TV: I enjoy gangster type films. Bad Boys II is a favourite. On TV I watch Two and a Half Men plus the Sports Channels. I watch a lot of boxing.
Aspiration in life: That people enjoy my career. It’d be great in later life to be stopped in the street by people telling me that I was a good fighter who’d entertained them.
Motto: Get rich or die trying!