14.10.05 – By Jeff Bastasini: On Saturday night in Dusseldorf, Germany, the south paw, Juan Carlos Gomez (39-1, 33 KO’s), will take on former heavyweight champion, Oliver McCall (45-8, 32 KO’s), who incredibly is still fighting effectively at the ripe old age of 40. Still more incredible than that, the winner of the bout will be setting himself up for a shot at the WBC heavyweight title, which will either be Vitali Klitschko, the current WBC title holder, or Hasim Rahman.
On August 13, 2004, Gomez was stopped in the 1st round by Yanqui Diaz, who basically bum rushed Gomez, while he was clowning around in the 1st round. In fairness to Gomez, he didn’t appear to take Diaz seriously, and paid for it in a big way, when Diaz suddenly stunned Gomez with a huge right hand, and then went right hand crazy, landing at will on Gomez, who was helpless against the ropes, before the referee stepped in to stop the brutal barrage of punches. Since then, Gomez has been much more serious in the ring in his last two fights, both winning efforts, stopping the heavy punching David Defiagbon in the 3rd round on January 15, 2005, and George Arias in the 4th round on May 28, 2005.
Skill-wise, Gomez has never had problems, as he has an abundant of ability, with an excellent jab and a powerful left hand. He originally fought as a cruiserweight, and was the WBC cruiserweight champion from 1998 to 2001, and was considered by many to be the best fighter at that weight. However, since moving up to heavyweight, Gomez hasn’t been as dominate as he was at cruiserweight, in my opinion, as his punches don’t have as much of an effect with the larger heavyweights, nor is his size (6’3”), as much of an asset as it once was while fighting at cruiserweight. Nevertheless, he has tons of ability, and appears to need a real challenge to keep him motivated. Oliver McCall, even at his advanced age, may likely bring out the best in Gomez.
Oliver McCall knocked out Lennox Lewis, way back in 1994. Following that victory, Oliver defended the title successfully against Larry Holmes, before losing it to Frank Bruno on September 2, 1995. After that, McCall fought Lennox Lewis for the vacant WBC heavyweight title on February 7, 1997. However, the fight was stopped in the 5th round when McCall suddenly stopped fighting. Needless to say, that loss put a bad stain on McCall’s reputation. However, he fought through his problems and returned to the boxing ring, mostly finding success. He reeled off a string of 13 victories in a row before recently losing a close decision to heavyweight contender Davarryl Williamson, on November 13, 2004, in a fight where he had both of Williamson’s eyes almost closed from massive swelling. (a testament to McCall’s power) However, McCall sprang back from that defeat and surprised many by stopping Przemyslaw Saleta in the 4th round on August 13, 2005. McCall may be 40 years old, but he has lost none of his awesome power in his right hand and is still a formidable foe for anyone in the heavyweight division.
Who comes out on top in this fight, is anyone’s guess. Gomez is the younger fighter with the better overall boxing skills. However, he has fought only limited heavyweight competition, and with McCall, he will be taking a big step up in competition. Gomez’s power will likely not have as much of an effect on McCall, who is used to trading with more powerful heavyweights than Gomez, so look for McCall to try and press the action. Gomez will probably stay away in the early rounds until he feels it safe enough to try and open up with his artillary. At that point, we’ll see what Gomez is made of, as he will have to be able to take punishment in order to give with McCall.
Prediction: Gomez by close decision.