SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO- The World Boxing Organization (WBO) honored today former three time world champion and International Boxing Hall of Famer, Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, in the 37th anniversary of the first world title he won in his career.
“We want to honor the career of one of the best in history, not only of Puerto Rico, but the World, Wilfredo Gomez, and do it with him here today. Today we commemorate 37 years of that fight, when he won his first world championship as a professional boxer and we want to remember that achievement”, WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said. “But there are other great events in Gomez’ career we want to celebrate this year. We at the WBO always remember and hono our great athletes”.
Gomez, who is suffering from his throat and didn’t speak on the microphone, thanked for the tribute and shared with a group of former Puerto Rican world champions, world ranked fighters and prospects, who along with Valcarcel, gave him a commemorative WBO belt as part of the celebration.
On May 21, 1977, Bazooka Gómez, with only 20 years and 15-0-1, 15 KOs, challenged the WBC super bantamweight (122 lbs) champion, Dong-Kyun Yum, who was making his second defense and a record of 50-2-6, 21 KOs. The fight was at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum and before his people, Gomez recovered of a fall early in the first round to knock out the Korean in the 12th round.
Born on October 29, 1956, Gomez started boxing as a child, and represented Puerto Rico at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany when he was just 15 years old losing to Egyptian Mohamed Selim 4-1 in the first round.
In February, 1974, Gomez traveled to Dominican Republic with the Puerto Rico Boxing Team and at the Central American and the Caribbean Games, he won the gold medal fighting at 54 kilograms. Seven months later, in August, 1974, Gomez represented Puerto Rico in the first World Amateur Boxing Championships held in Havana, Cuba. There the Puerto Rican won all his fights by knockout and in the finals beat that way the Cuban Jorge Luis Romero to win the gold medal. There are 40 years of that medals at the Central American Games and the World Championships.
Then, in November 16, 1974, Gomez debuted with a six round draw against Jacinto Fuentes in Panama. But after that draw, Gomez won 15 fights in a row by knockout (including Fientes in a second fight) to challenge Kyun Yum and win his first world title on May 21, 1977.
Gomez made 17 successful defenses of this 122 pounds title, all won by KO, which is a record in boxing.
On March 31, 1984 (30th anniversary in 2014) at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Gomez challenged his countryman Juan Laporte, then WBC featherweight (126 pounds) champion. Gomez beat Laporte by unanimous decision to become a world champion in a second weight class.
Gomez won his third world belt, the WBA junior lightweight (130 pounds) title on May 19, 1985 when he won in a majority decision over Rocky Lockridge at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum.
Gomez ended his career with a record of 44-3-1, 42 KOs, world titles at 122, 126 and 130 pounds, a record on world title fights of 20-3 , 18 KOs and 17 title defenses at 122 pounds, winning them all by knockout.
For his great career, Gomez was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, in 1995. At that time becoming only the third Puerto Rican coming to it.
In the activity, the WBO, with it commitment to the young boxers too, brought the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Jose Alberto Silva, who spoke to the boxers on the importance of knowing how to handle the money they generate in their careers. Silva works with several Major League Baseball players, including former MLB pitcher Javier Vazquez.
Former world champions who were in the event were Ivan “Iron Boy” Calderon, Wilfredo Vazquez, Samuel Serrano, Alfredo “Salsero” Escalera, Alex “El Nene” Sanchez, Angel “Cholo” Espada, Juan Manuel “Juanma “Lopez, Rafael del Valle, Manuel Alejandro Siaca and Julian Solis. Also contenders Cesar Seda Jr., Jesus Rojas, Victor Bisbal, Thomas Dulorme, Rey Ojeda and prospects like Felix Verdejo, who turned 21 years on Monday, Prichard Colon, John Karl Sosa, Emmanuel Jesus and Israel Vazquez, among others.
Also in the tribute were WBO Executive Committee members Luis Batista Salas, Jose Izquierdo, Manuel Marrero Hueca, Alberto Rodriguez, Luis Perez and Adolfo Flores Monge, and referees, judges, trainers, managers and promoters.
Remember the WBO 27th Annual Convention to take place at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, from October 27 to October 31, 2014. More information at www.wboboxing.com.