Former "Contender" contestant Alfonso Gomez is hyping up wins over past titlists Arturo Gatti and Jose Luis Castillo to sell himself as the September 17 opponent for junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. This from the Houston Chronicle:
[Gomez] stopped former world titleholders Arturo Gatti and Jose Luis Castillo in 2007 and 2010, respectively.
"So far, out of all the victories that I've had, the ones that have been the sweetest were the ones that I was expected to lose," Gomez said.
Alvarez knows better than to take Gomez lightly.
"I think Alfonso's one of the best, and I'm going to prepare very well for Sept. 17," Alvarez said.
I know this is basically preaching to the choir, and frankly it's not like it's terribly necessary to point it out, and I hope Alvarez and Gomez do a good house in Los Angeles and put on a hell of a fight, and even though I favor Alvarez so very, very heavily, I do think it will be a good fight, (deep breath), buuuuuuuut...
Let's get real here. First of all, Gomez was the betting favorite (-215) against Castillo (+175) in 2010, because Castillo had long since been a shot fighter, and while he was one hell of a lightweight, he was not by any means a welterweight. He hadn't notched a truly good win since coming in overweight and knocking out Diego Corrales in their 2005 rematch, and while some may have picked the veteran, it was mostly on name value. Those who knew the score took Gomez without hesitation, and he dominated Castillo over six rounds.
Then there's Gatti. Gatti was the betting favorite (-185), but Gomez was a live dog going in (+145) and the fight was an open question of just how far gone Gatti was. It turned out that he was very, very far gone. Gatti had been trucked in his last fight by Carlos Baldomir, and had taken a year off before fighting Gomez, who had his way with the Atlantic City hero. Gatti, like Castillo, was also not really a welterweight, and admitted as much himself after fighting Gomez.
This? Well, this is a different situation. It's Gomez going up from welterweight to junior middleweight, fighting a younger, bigger, stronger man. While you could make the argument, I suppose, that Gomez has fought better competition, I personally don't think that's actually true. Their levels of competition have been roughly similar. Gomez's two most famous wins (probably) were against old, shot, undersized fighters. Alvarez's best wins have been over undersized, often faded veterans like Baldomir, Jose Miguel Cotto. The physical advantages lean toward Alvarez. Gomez is a significant underdog in this fight for very good reasons, but he definitely should be expected to come to fight. He's never given less than a strong effort before, and shouldn't give any less than that this time either.