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Wilfredo Gómez (born October 29, 1956) was a boxer who was a three time world champion. Nicknamed 'Bazooka', Gómez had, according to Ring Magazine, one of the highest knockout win percentages of all time, winning 88 percent of all his bouts by knockout. Ring Magazine placed Gómez at number thirteen of their all time greatest punchers list in 2003.
Gómez conquered the world amateur championship in 1974 in Havana, Cuba. Coming from Puerto Rico, however, meant that the big bucks and exposure of the American media would not come easy, and Gómez had to move to Costa Rica, from where he began to tour all of Central America in hopes of finding matches. His professional debut came in Panama City, Panama, where he fought to a draw with Jacinto Fuentes. After this un-auspicious debut, he reeled off a streak of 33 knockout wins in a row, including wins over Fuentes, who was dispatched in 2 rounds in a rematch, and future world champion Alberto Davila, who lasted 9 rounds before being defeated.
Gómez's meteoric rise through his knockout streak caught the eye of the World Jr Featherweight champion Dong Hyung Yen, who travelled to San Juan, Puerto Rico to defend his crown against Gómez Yen had a promising start, dropping Gómez 30 seconds into the bout, but Gómez picked himself up and eventually won the crown, his first world title, with a 12th round knockout. His first defense took him to the Far East, where he beat former world champion Royal Kobayashi in 3 rounds in Tokyo. Kobayashi had lasted 5 rounds vs Alexis Arguello and 10 rounds vs Roberto Duran when Duran was a Featherweight. Next was Ryu Tomonari in a small city of Thailand. He lasted 2 rounds.
Gómez kept on going until his streak reached 33 knockouts in a row.Those 33 knockouts in a row included his biggest victory ever, a 4 knockdown, 5 round defeat of Mexican world Bantamweight champion Carlos Zarate, who was 55-0 with 54 knockout wins coming into their San Juan bout. Also included in that streak was future world champion Leo Cruz, beaten in 13 rounds at San Juan. After recording his 33rd. knockout win in a row, he moved up in weight to face the dangerous champion Salvador Sanchez of Mexico. Not realizing Sanchez was a sensational champion on his own , Gómez undertrained and lost a brutal bout by a knockout in 8 rounds in Las Vegas. Puerto Rico was shocked by Gómez's defeat, and Gómez himself learned a lesson in life: to never underestimate a foe.
Hoping to get a rematch with Sanchez, Gómez went back to the Jr Featherweight division, where he got a dispense from the WBC to make 2 preparation bouts before defending his title again. He did so and won 2 non title bouts in a row , both by knockout in the 2nd round, one over the capable Jose Luis Soto, who was a stablemate of Julio Cesar Chavez back in Culiacan, Mexico. Wins over future world champ Juan 'Kid' Meza, knocked out in six in Atlantic City, and Juan Antonio Lopez, knocked out in ten as part of the Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney undercard followed, but all chances of a rematch with Sanchez were dashed when Sanchez died tragically in a car crash outside Mexico City the morning of August 12th , 1982. Mexico mourned their gone champion, and all of Latin America joined Mexico in their pain. Gómez, who was training to defend against Mexican Roberto Rubaldino only 5 days later, took a quick trip to Mexico to offer Sanchez flowers and then returned to Puerto Rico the same afternoon. He beat Rubaldino by knockout in 8 rounds and made 1 more title defense, against the great Mexican bantamweight world champ Lupe Pintor in the Carnival of Champions in New Orleans, winning by knockout in 14 in a wild and historic fight. The Pintor contest was the only time a Gómez fight was showcased on HBO.
By the time he was done with the Jr Featherweights, Gómez had established a division record of 17 defenses, and a world record of most defenses in a row won by knockout, all his defenses finishing before the established distance limit.
He then re-tried winning the Featherweight title and this time, he achieved his dream, winning his second world title by dethroning the durable Juan Laporte, a fellow Puerto Rican who had won the title left vacant by Sanchez's untimely departure. He beat Laporte by a 12 round unanimous decision. This time, however, it didn't last that long. Ahead on all scorecards, Gómez was the victim of a rally by Azumah Nelson of Ghana who knocked him out in 11 exhiliarating rounds in San Juan, December 8, 1984. Nelson himself proved a great champion and future hall of famer by making a string of defenses in the Featherweights and becoming a 3 time world champion himself later.
Gómez wanted either a rematch with Nelson or a shot at Jr Lightweight world champ Rocky Lockridge of New Jersey, whichever came first. Lockridge was first to knock on the doors, and the 2 battled an exciting 15 round bout in San Juan, Gómez being given an extremely close 15 round decision, which many experts have said Lockridge deserved, but also which in the opinion of most who saw it life, was a justified decision.
This reign also came to an end quick, Gómez being handed his 3rd loss at the hands of young Alfredo Layne by knockout in 9 rounds. Layne proved he wasn't an exceptional champion by losing the title in his first title defense, and it became obvious Gómez's best years had gone by, so he retired after this fight.
Gómez tried a comeback in 1988 and 1989, but after winning 2 more bouts by knockout, he realized boxing wasn't in his heart anymore and retired for good. He later moved to Venezuela, where he made a few wrong decisions and ran into trouble with the law. But, as a true champion, he rebounded and is now back in Puerto Rico, being an exemplary citizen and getting his life back on track, and helping the legendary 3 time world champion Hector 'Macho' Camacho with the training of Camacho's son Hector 'Machito' Camacho Jr, who is a prospect in the Jr Welterweight division.
Gómez is also a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and, during July of 2002, plans to take his life to Hollywood's big screen were announced. Bazooka: The Battles of Wilfredo Gómez will be released on April of 2004.
Gómez had a record of 44 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw, with 42 knockout wins.