The re-creation of Alfonso Gomez
Story & photos by Chris Cozzone
He might’ve been his most devastating conqueror, but Alfonso Gomez owes a lot to Miguel Cotto.
Two years ago, Gomez, in his sole world title fight, was systematically broken down by Cotto through five rounds. The loss ended a four-year win streak for the Guadalajara, Mexico native.
In hindsight, however, Gomez says it’s the best thing that could’ve happened to him.
“It was a wake-up call to go back and relearn,” says Gomez, who is on a three-bout win streak he hopes to extend to four Saturday night.
This weekend, in one of the PPV-televised co-features under Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey, Gomez, 21-4-2 (10 KOs), will seek what could be a final roadblock to another world title shot when he faces Mexican legend Jose Luis Castillo, 60-9-1 (52 KOs), in a 10-round fight for the WBC Continental Americas welterweight title.
“Before Cotto, we were fighting, more and more, for the Mexican crowd,” says Gomez. “I was coming forward, trying to please the crowd and give a good fight.
“I forgot how to do what I do best – I forgot how to box.”
Back under his original trainer, father Alfonso, Sr., Gomez has since started over in the gym.
The re-creation took nearly a year. Gomez returned last May to TKO Juan Manuel Buendia in Las Vegas. Three months later, he KO’d Raul Munoz in one. In his biggest win yet, Gomez finished off 2009 in blazing fashion when he scored one of the biggest upsets of the year by defeating No. 1 Contender Jesus Soto Karass on the Pacquiao-Cotto card.
“No one expected me to beat Soto Karass,” says Gomez. “They thought I was a tune-up. They expected me to lose in a Mexican war – but I used lateral movement, I used my jab to win.
“Beating him was so important, but I counted on that upset. I knew it would get me another big, another important fight.”
Though he is open to a rematch with Soto Karass in the future – if the right opportunity appears – Gomez says the doors opened for Castillo.
“Castillo is getting up there in age, but he’s still a dangerous fighter,” says Gomez. “He wants to win – he has hopes of bigger paydays, of more world titles, and I know that. I know the risk.
“But I will be careful and fight with strategy. I hope to take him in the later rounds.”
Castillo has been out of the big picture since losing to Ricky Hatton in 2007 – but he is also on a four-bout win streak over journeymen on Mexican turf.
“I’m bigger, taller and younger,” says Gomez. “But you can’t count out Castillo’s experience. I’ve seen him fight many times – I’ve seen the Castillo that fought Diego Corrales and Floyd Mayweather. I’ve also seen the Castillo who fought Sebastian Lujan.
“I’m counting on fighting the version that fought Corrales. And I’m ready for that one. It’s very important not to lose – a win will bring me one step closer to a world title shot. A win will show the world that I’m ready to fight the elite fighters.”
Gomez’ career, it seems, has been made up of fights he’s hoped will prove his quality.
“I got a stigma from fighting on ‘The Contender’ reality show,” admits Gomez. “Since then, I showed that I went from a TV contender to a real contender.
“Now I want to prove that I’m an elite fighter by winning a title.”
Unlike the fight camp in 2007, when he lost to Cotto, the current operation in Oxnard, Calif., has been injury-free, says Gomez.
“There’s been no health issues. It’s been a smooth ride, this camp.”
What’s also changed with Gomez’s career, is his outlook. Instead of fighting merely for fun, the prizefight business has become a serious job.
“It’s still fun, but I’m taking things much more seriously,” says Gomez. “I’m a husband and father to a six-month-old daughter, so I’m much more responsible now.”
When he’s not fighting, Gomez is making music with his two brothers, with whom he has started a website, www.hy3rid.com.