This Saturday (March 8th) former cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez (53-3) will be back in action in Kecskemet (Hungary) when he faces Ivica Bacurin (17-4-1) for the vacant WBO International championship on the undercard of Zsolt Erdei’s (33-1) last pro fight against Shalva Jomardashvili (36-6-2).
When you look at Gomez these days, you may get the impression that we are back in the year 2000. Back then – about 15 years ago – “The Black Panther” ruled the cruiserweight division and literally blew away every opponent that crossed his way. In 2001, Gomez moved up to heavyweight because he felt that he could make more money playing with the big boys. After losing to Vitali Klitschko in his only world heavyweight title fight in 2009 it looked like Gomez might retire before he decided to turn back the clock.
“At a certain point I felt that I still had it in me. There was this fire which just never stopped burning”, says Gomez. “At the same time I saw the cruiserweight division – my old kingdom – and felt that it could use some fresh, old blood.” When he turned 40 last summer, “The Black Panther” went back to the gym and worked harder than ever for his last chance. He returned with two easy wins last November before reuniting with his former world champion coach Fritz Sdunek.
“I felt great when I was back at 200 lbs. but there was still something missing until I started working with Fritz again”, adds Gomez. “He was the missing link. We have a great chemistry and I am sure that I will become world champion again with Fritz in my corner.”
By winning the WBO International Championship, “The Black Panther” is hoping to move up in the WBO rankings to chase world champion Marco Huck. “Huck is the best cruiserweight fighter in the world at the moment – until he will face me”, states Gomez. “He is a very active champion and I know that he never backs down from a challenge so I hope he hears me when I say: The Black Panther is hungry! I’m hunting you, champ. And I will not stop until I got your belt!”