Speaking of reclamation projects, Vernon Paris (28-1, 16 KOs) is attempting to make a comeback tonight when he takes on Frankie Gomez (17-0, 13 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, CA on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes. Paris states he now has a new mentality and trainer, and is ready to become a force at 140lb.
This fight spells the end of a 14-month layoff for Paris. When most of us last saw him on television, he was a brash 24 year-old who was talking a lot of shit before he was completely thrashed and knocked out by Zab Judah in March 2012. That loss proved to be a very embarrassing and humbling experience for Paris, who had expected walk through an aging Judah.
"Leading up to the Zab Judah fight, I was an unfocused fighter. My discipline wasn't too good," said Paris. "I had a lot of personal issues that I was letting bother me outside of the ring...but even though I had a raggedy camp, I thought that I couldn't lose."
Due to the brutality of the Judah loss, Paris was then given a pushover by the name of Guy Packer (4-38-2, 1 KO), who himself has been knocked out 23 times. That was followed by Manuel Perez (20-10-1, 4 KOs) whom he outpointed in May 2013. Paris now has a renewed confidence and believes he's a different fighter and had much to say on the matter:
"Nowadays, I've gotten rid of all of the outside problems and issues and Kenny Johnson and Johnny Gant are two amazing coaches and they're also two amazing friends."
"I've been in Atlanta for about eight months and I've been training and my discipline has been amazing and my eating regimen has been amazing. My running, my training, it's all been great."
"We're going to come into this fight and I'm 100 percent confident that it's not going to go the distance. I'm not going to say that I'm going to knock him out or stop him," said Paris. "But I'm very confident in my skills and I'm confident about the work that I've put into the gym and I'm very confident that he's not going to go the distance with me."
So you're basically saying you're not going to knock him out while simultaneously saying you are going to knock him out? As confounding as that statement was, Paris then went on to acknowledge that there were times he didn't take his career so seriously:
"There was a time where I fell out of love with the sport and didn't have respect for the sport but things have changed these last few years," said Paris. "I'm in love with the sport again and I'm focused. We'll see what will happen after this fight. I'm going to go ahead and knock this dude out and look good doing it and take it from there."
"I don't have the time that I used to have to wait any more. I'm in a very rich weight class that has a lot of amazing fighters in it, and right now, I'm hoping that this fight right here will shoot me into a real good fight with an Adrien Broner or any of them guys. But I'm focused on this one fight because it means a lot to my career."
From what I've seen of Paris, he's already peaked into what best could be described as a fringe-contender. Perhaps he can prove me wrong, but that remains to be seen. His opponent, Frankie Gomez, has been considered a blue chip prospect since turning pro, but this is still a pretty decent step up for him in his young career. I suppose we'll see whose really heading in what direction later tonight.