Eddie Gomez to return on May 20 with new outlook
Eddie Gomez has had plenty of time to think about his career and future during his 13 months out of the ring.
The 23-year-old welterweight, who headlines this Friday against John Karl Sosa at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, wasn’t recovering mentally from a loss or healing from injury but rather making sure his paperwork was in order as he re-signed with Golden Boy Promotions.
During that time he bonded with his daughter, who turns two years old in September, and thought about the life he wants for himself and his family. He thought about how to get it and, so, he committed himself to the gym.
Gomez (18-1, 11 knockouts), Bronx, New York, has bigger goals in mind as he heads toward his 10-round fight against Sosa (13-1, 6 KOs), which will broadcast live on Estrella TV (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) and online at RingTVLive.com. (The stream begins at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT.)
“Basically to prove that I’m ready for that next phase of my career, I just gotta go in there Friday night, whether it’s a spectacular knockout or a good well-polished 10 rounds of boxing, that’s what we’re gonna have to do,” said Gomez, who has won two fights since his lone defeat, a decision loss to Francisco Santana in June of 2014.
Gomez, who was described by Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya as “one of the top fighters to emerge from New York in several years” in a press release after inking a new deal in February, will be seeking a statement-making win against his Puerto Rican opponent Sosa, who is coming off a sixth round technical knockout loss to Alan Sanchez in November.
Trainer Alex Devia is confident that their preparation on the West Coast has had a positive effect on Gomez, both physically and mentally.
Gomez, who now lives in Hackensack, New Jersey, where he trains at Devia’s Garden State School of Boxing, accompanied Devia and Glen Tapia to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where Tapia fought David Lemieux in support of Canelo Alvarez’s RING middleweight championship defense against Amir Khan earlier this month.
In Los Angeles, Gomez trained at the Wild Card Boxing Club, sparring against Raymundo Beltran, before moving out to Las Vegas and sparring Shawn Porter, on top of work he received in New Jersey against Devia’s son, unbeaten welterweight Julian Rodriguez.
“When a fighter sees different scenery, it excites them. They see different runs; they see different gyms. They see different sparring and it picks you up. That’s exactly what it did for Eddie,” said Devia.
“When we did the run that Manny Pacquiao does to the Hollywood sign in Griffith Park, it all excited (Gomez) even more. Then being in the mix with the Canelo card. He saw with his own eyes. He sees that it’s there and it’s in his grasp and all he has to do is put the work in because the kid is talented. He can fight.”
Gomez turned pro in 2010 at age 18 to high expectations after winning the New York Daily News Golden Gloves and winning a pair of Junior Olympic national championships. He won his first 16 fights before losing to Santana. Gomez knew adjustments had to be made and began by switching trainers to Devia and changing the way he approached his craft.
“Going into that fight, I had a lot of things going on in my life; I had a lot on my mind. It was too much on my plate,” Gomez said of the Santana fight.
“I had to make some adjustments and get back to boxing and moving my head and just the basic fundamentals that I had thrown out the window because I was just getting through these fights with my natural ability. I just had to go to Alex and get cleaned up. We’re gonna be a force to be reckoned with.”
Signing a new deal with Golden Boy reinvigorated Gomez, Devia says, and it’s been evident in his gym work and lifestyle.
“Once he re-signed, he changed completely. His diet, his training and I saw it in him. He was coming back home in New Jersey to the gym three times a day, doing the runs, taking the strength and conditioning. The weight was coming off. He’s been so low that he could’ve made 147 two weeks ago because he’s just been training,” said Devia.
Gomez hopes an impressive win leads to a busy 2016 before a step-up fight in 2017, which proves he belongs among the top welterweights.
“Hopefully, with this fight here, we move into a good spot in the rankings once again and, from there, we’re rocking and rolling and we’re taking it straight to the top,” said Gomez.
No need to wait, says Devia. He believes his fighter is ready for the best and is confident the public will agree after Friday.
“We’re there already; there’s no reason to drag our feet because, at 147, I believe we can fight anybody. We will beat or give a great fight to any 147-pounder,” said Devia.
“He knows that the first 18 fights was to be a contender. He slipped up in one of the fights and he said right here, ‘This is the part of my life that I change my life.’ He wants to buy a house for his family; he wants to make a name for himself. He knows that this is the time to do it.”
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to THE RING magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.