Gomez wants to advance quickly
If Frankie Gomez easily defeats Jaime Orrantia in his second Fight Night Club appearance on Thursday, fans can expect the former amateur star’s pro career to progress in the same manner that he fights: Fast and furious.
Just how quickly Golden Boy Promotions, which signed Gomez in February, will move the East Los Angeles native remains to be seen. However, it’s clear that taking the slow and soft approach to Gomez’s pro development is a waste of everyone’s time.
Gomez’s blend of speed, power and a take-no-prisoners attitude ensures early knockouts of weak opposition. His last fight against Akeem Akinbode in his Fight Night Club debut is a prime example.
Akinbode, who had a 0-2 record (both losses by knockout), according to Boxrec.com, lasted only 46 seconds. Gomez (3-0, 3 knockouts) didn’t break a sweat, his trainers didn’t get enough time to have their fighter practice what they worked on in the gym, and fans watching on Fox Sports Net and RingTV.com only caught a glimpse of what makes the junior welterweight prospect special.
Orrantia (13-26-5, 4 KOs), Gomez's opponent in a scheduled four-round main event at downtown L.A.’s Club Nokia, figures to last longer than Akinbode did but he probably won’t be able to compete on any level or last the distance.
Orrantia, a 29-year-old journeyman who began his career at featherweight, was once known for his ability to trouble up-and-comers while taking them the distance. However, in recent years the native of Los Mochis, Mexico has been stopped by former prospects Isidro Granados, Nick Casal and Leonilo Miranda.
Orrantia, who has only won three of his last 15 bouts (and just four of his last 24), was stopped in three rounds by junior welterweight prospect Antonio Orozco in February.
Orrantia is a very late substitute for a much-better (on paper) fighter, Geoffrey Gaya (5-2, 1 KOs), but he’s not a bad opponent for an 18-year-old boxer engaging in only his fourth pro bout.
However, Gomez is ambitious as he is aggressive. If the matchmaking were up to him, he would be fighting Orozco on Thursday, not Orrantia. Gomez’s co-trainers Ronnie Rivota and Hector Ibarra believe he’s ready for more advanced prospects than the 7-0 (5) Orozco.
“If it were up to me I’d have him in there with Jose Benavides, Jesse Vargas and Danny Garcia right now,” Ibarra told RingTV.com. “We realize that things are different in the pros, that this is a business as well as a sport and that certain fights need to be built up, but that’s how we feel. We feel Frankie is the best of the 140-pound prospects and he will prove it one day.”
It won’t be proven during Thursday’s fight, which will be televised on Fox Sports Net and streamed live on RingTV.com. It won’t be proven on July 31, Gomez’s next scheduled bout, which is on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz II undercard. But it will happen sooner rather than later.
Golden Boy’s matchmakers believe that Gomez’s extensive amateur background will enable them to develop him faster than most prospects.
“It’s not difficult to advance a fighter like Frankie because he’s willing to fight anybody and his amateur experience has prepared him for just about anything,” said Eric Gomez (no relation), head matchmaker for Golden Boy. “If you have over 100 amateur fights, like Frankie does, you’ve already faced every kind of style. I don’t have to worry about putting him in with a tall guy or a mover or a southpaw. He knows how to fight them all.”
Gomez, who compiled a 120-8 amateur record, won a dozen junior titles, including the 2008 Under-17 World Championships, before winning the open U.S. amateur championship and taking silver in the AIBA world championship as a 17 year old last year.
“Frankie was a member of the U.S. national team,” Gomez said. “He was traveling to other countries and facing men in their 20s and 30s, so you can’t think of him the way you would a kid who only had 50 or 60 amateur bouts and maybe went to one or two national tournaments.
“There’s a big difference with international experience because when you travel with the U.S. team to Mexico, Russia, Italy, Thailand, you’re facing the best of the best.”
In boxing terms, Gomez is a lot older than 18.
“I never think about my age before a fight,” he told RingTV.com. “I don’t get intimidated fighting older fighters. Age is just a number to me.”
Golden Boy’s matchmakers believe Gomez is as advanced at 18 as his fellow amateur standouts Abner Mares and Daniel Jacobs were at 19 and 20, the ages they turned pro.
“We’ll bring him along like we did with Abner, who was 19 when we started working with him,” Gomez said. “We’ll be just careful enough. We won’t put him in with a big, big puncher any time soon, but other than that we’ll take more chances with him than we would most prospects.
“And we’ll keep (Gomez) very busy, like we did Danny Jacobs. He had 13 fights with us his first year. Now he’s fighting for a world title.”
Jacobs, who is still considered a prospect at middleweight, is fighting for a vacant 160-pound belt on the pay-per-view portion of the Marquez-Diaz undercard. It will be the New Yorker’s 20th pro bout. Mares challenged bantamweight titleholder Yonnhy Perez in his 21st pro bout.
Gomez wants his title shot before his 20th pro bout, which is fine with Golden Boy.
“If Frankie wants to fight every month, he will,” Gomez said. “This kid has so much ability and he’s sparred with the best pros out here. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself.”
Gomez has sparred with two potential future foes at Freddie Roach’s famous Wild Card Boxing Club recently. One is Jamie Kavanagh (1-0, 1 KO), who opens the televised portion of Fight Night Club on Thursday, and the other is his much ballyhooed amateur rival Jose Benavides (6-0, 6 KOs).
Kavanagh, who sparred with Gomez last week, said the squat pressure fighter’s physical strength is something to reckon with.
“He’s still adapting to the pros, just like I am, but you can tell that his style is better suited for professional boxing because he’s so aggressive,” Kavanagh said.
Some believe Gomez is too aggressive. They say his lust for the knockout and lack of a consistent jab might cause him to get knocked out one day.
“Frankie is still a little green, a little reckless,” Gomez said. “I keep telling him to work his jab but he’s a swarming kind of fighter, he likes to go toe to toe.”
Those who criticize Gomez’s form believe that Benavides, a patient, technically sound boxer-puncher, is the better pro prospect so far.
Gomez, who defeated Benavides four times in the amateurs, doesn’t care much for that opinion.
“I know people say I need to take my time and that I don’t jab enough, but my style works for me,” he said. “It works against tall fighters with a long reach like Benavides because I stay in their chest. The only national title Benavides won was the Golden Gloves and that’s because I didn’t go to that one.”
Gomez says the hype for Benavides, who Roach calls the most-talented fighter he’s trained since Manny Pacquiao, motivates him.
“It makes me train harder because I know I’m better than him,” said Gomez, who sparred with Benavides twice before he turned pro. “I wanted to let him know it when we sparred.”
Gomez is quiet, almost painfully shy, but when he talks about an eventual pro fight with Benavides, there’s an intensity in his eyes.
“Frankie is hard to read,” Ibarra said. “He’s very quiet and respectful, so he’ll never say that he’s out to get anybody. But if anyone gets the better of him in the gym, he stores that in his mind and then it’s only a matter of time before he gets the better of them.”
Ibarra and Rivota believe it’s only a matter of time before he gets the better of his fellow prospects.
“We’ll be watching Jesse Vargas,” Ibarra said of the 10-0 (5 KOs) prospect, who fights in Thursday’s Fight Night Club co-feature. “We’ll be watching Jamie Kavanagh and Javier Molina. Frankie might drops down to lightweight, so we’ll be watching the lightweight prospects, too. Good young fighters like John Molina, Adrian Broner and Karl Dargan are in our sights.”
Fights against one or more of the mentioned fighters will happen sooner rather than later, as will bona fide tests against seasoned contenders, according to Eric Gomez.
“We want to get these young guys a title while they are still young, when they are 22, 23 years old,” Gomez said. “Then they’ll have five to six good years of defending it, and that’s when they make their money, and we make our money back. You have to come out of the pocket to develop a good young fighter.
“Frankie is worth the investment. I think we got a good one with him. We got a kid who’s going to be exciting and special.”