If you've been here for Big Fight Week coverage before, you know we work fast and around the clock. Late last night, the first Know Your PPV Undercard fight preview was posted for the John Duddy-Michael Medina bout. We continue now with part two of three.
Jose Luis Castillo (60-9-1, 52 KO) v. Alfonso Gomez (21-4-2, 10 KO)
Welterweights - 10 Rounds
(Photos by John Gichigi and Al Bello / Getty Images)
Though this fight likely has no major impact on the boxing world at large, it could potentially be a decent scrap.
Gomez, 29, was popular on the first season of "The Contender," but will probably always be best-known as the guy who retired Arturo "Thunder" Gatti in 2007. Gatti was coming off of a year-long break after being battered by then-welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir, and Gomez was penciled in as a beatable HBO opponent for Gatti at Boardwalk Hall. Instead, the younger man overpowered and thrashed the old warrior, busting his lip wide open on a stoppage-worthy 1-2 in the seventh round.
Since then, Gomez has seen ups and downs. He took a fight with Ben Tackie three months after beating Gatti, and the difference was night and day. He didn't look nearly as good with the durable Tackie as he did against the defenseless Gatti, but still won a ten-round decision, which put him back at Boardwalk Hall in April 2008 against Miguel Cotto, who came in 31-0 with the WBA welterweight title. Cotto mercilessly hammered Gomez for five rounds, until finally the fight was stopped. It was one of the biggest major network mismatches in recent memory.
Gomez took 13 months off after Cotto wiped him out, and signed with Top Rank. He's gone 3-0 since, including a technical decision win after six rounds and change against Jesus Soto Karass in the PPV opener for Pacquiao-Cotto.
Castillo, 36, is on one final run. His 2005 epic with Diego Corrales was a watershed moment for modern boxing. Castillo has never been the same fighter since, and his career has been marred by weight problems on multiple occasions. First, he failed to make 135 pounds for the rematch with Corrales, who fought him anyway. The heavy Castillo knocked Chico out in four rounds.
A third fight was first called off when Corrales came up injured training for the original February 2006 fight date. Castillo fought and beat Rolando Reyes (still a contender at 135) instead. Rescheduled for June, the rubber match with Corrales got to the scales and went no further. Again, Castillo failed to make weight, and this time Corrales refused to fight him. That has been a financial pain for Castillo over the years.
In 2007, he moved to 140, with HBO setting up a fight with Ricky Hatton. The two faced Juan Urango (Hatton) and Herman Ngoudjo (Castillo) in January. Hatton dominated Urango. Castillo squeaked by Ngoudjo. In June, Hatton blasted Castillo with a left hook to the body that counted him out in the fourth round.
Since the loss to Hatton, Castillo has gone 5-1 (5 KO), but all five wins were over iffy competition, and he was dominated at welterweight by Sebastian Lujan in 2008. He also failed to make 140 pounds for a proposed fight with Timothy Bradley, not even stepping on the official scales he was so far north of the limit.
For Castillo, the question is, "What does he have left?"
For Gomez, it would be, "Even if Castillo doesn't have much left, does he have enough to beat him?"
Castillo has settled in at 147 in his last couple of fights, knocking out Christian Solano and Carlos Urias, a couple of veterans not near even a faded JLC's class. The fact of the matter is, Gomez is really not very good. He's a hard-working, likable fighter, and he generally comes to fight.
But if Castillo is in shape, is Gomez so much better than the likes of Urias and Adan Casillas that he's going to do a whole lot better than they did? Even up at 147, Castillo can bang, and since the failure to make weight against Bradley and the awful performance against Lujan, he's quietly been taking his career seriously again.
We know Gomez can be hurt. I'm not comparing the 2010 Castillo to the 2008 Cotto by any means, but Cotto massacred Gomez. It wasn't even a contest. Castillo was used in November by Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach to spar with Pacquiao and prepare him for Cotto. Roach had his doubts from the word "go" and made no secret of them, but seemed genuinely impressed by the veteran after all was said and done.
As for wear and tear, Gomez isn't much of a puncher, and if Castillo could handle Lujan's attack at 147 without crumbling, I don't think Alfonso will much bother him either. But boxing is indeed a young man's game, and not only is Gomez seven years younger, but the gap in punishment taken and boxing miles makes that even bigger.
Somehow, though, I can't shake the thought that we might actually be seeing a recommited Castillo who might make just a little noise soon enough. A win over Gomez would be a fairly credible first step. Not the biggest win in the world, but enough to get him another fight with a second-tier welterweight, and then you move forward and see what's what.
Even though conventional wisdom says to pick Gomez in this one, I'm going with the old dog. Keep in mind I also picked Gatti to beat Gomez in 2007, but I think Castillo now is better than Gatti was then. Castillo UD-10