This Friday night on Estrella TV and streaming live online (we should have a stream for you, but if we don't, we'll have a link to a stream for you), Golden Boy Promotions returns to the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, for a doubleheader (and maybe more! a lot more! a really tall more!) in the welterweight and junior welterweight divisions.
Here's a look at what's coming on the card, so you can decide whether or not you want to spend your Friday evening with a bunch of bums on the internet, talking about fights.
Eddie Gomez vs John Karl Sosa
Record: 18-1 (11 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7" / 74" ... Age: 23
Thoughts: "E-Boy" was a pretty highly regarded prospect not long ago, and it's easy to see why. The Bronx native has a huge reach for a welterweight, especially considering he's not abnormally tall for the weight or anything like that. Gomez won the New York Golden Gloves in 2010 (with a reported amateur record of 90-1), and was pretty highly sought after coming out of the amateur ranks, signing with Golden Boy.
But after a pretty painless run through his first 16 fights, Gomez was upset by Francisco Santana in June 2014, dropping a clear 10-round decision in a fight that just got past him, more or less, as he couldn't find a way to neutralize what Santana could do.
There had been plenty of whispers about Gomez being potentially overhyped, or at least that he had too heavily bought into that hype, that he'd become overly cocky about where he was at, and that he was ripe for an upset loss to someone like Santana, a solid fighter who had given decent fights to guys like Julian Williams, Jermell Charlo, and Karim Mayfield before, and came in on a good winning streak.
So Gomez took the loss. All he could really do from there was come back. He did so, six months later, beating journeyman James Winchester over 10 rounds, and returned last April with a five-round stoppage of Jonathan Batista. He's not fought since then, so there could be some concern about ring rust here. He signed a new deal with Golden Boy in February, and the company has gotten him back in the ring and hope to keep him busy.
Gomez has terrific speed and decent power -- really a pretty good skill set overall, but the question is now whether or not he can win at a higher level than he has already. We won't really find that out on Friday, even if he wins impressively, because this is not a new level for him. But if he's put the loss and what may have led to it behind him, he remains a prospect to keep an eye on, a nice talent who could start to make waves by 2017.
John Karl Sosa
Record: 13-1 (6 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'8" / 68" ... Age: 23
Thoughts: Puerto Rico's Sosa built up a 13-0 record on the island (and one fight in the U.S.) before he was matched against Alan Sanchez last November in Las Vegas. Sanchez dropped Sosa three times in the sixth round, stopping him there, and giving him something of a reality check.
Alan Sanchez is a pretty decent fighter, but he does not have the ability or pure talent of Eddie Gomez. It's a totally different matchup -- Sanchez is a 6-foot tall welterweight, Gomez a speed merchant and boxer-puncher who fights with more of a slick style. But the level of competition on Sosa's résumé is so low, and he's coming in off of his first pro loss to the first decent fighter he faced, and it's hard to see him being a tough fight for Eddie Gomez here.
Matchup Grade: C-. On paper, and ignoring Sosa's winning percentage -- as you should, since it means nothing -- this is little more than a tune-up fight for Gomez to get back in the ring and get a win, and move on to something more challenging by the end of this year. Gomez remains a good prospect despite the loss, but he's not going to prove anything he hasn't already proven with this fight, unless he loses. And he doesn't want to prove what that would prove. I'll go C- instead of something lower because it is Gomez's first fight in 13 months, and a tune-up is the right idea, it just probably shouldn't be a TV main event.
Fidel Maldonado Jr vs Art Hovhannisyan
Fidel Maldonado Jr
Record: 21-3 (18 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 3-1 (1 NC) ... Last 10: 8-1 (1 NC) ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'7½" / 69½" ... Age: 24
Thoughts: Maldonado is an interesting fighter. He's taken a few losses, but he's still young, has a good punch, and has some skills. His biggest win came in 2013, when he beat Luis Ramos Jr, which came a year after back-to-back defeats against Fernando Carcamo and Michael Perez.
He was most recently seen on TV against Amir Imam in January 2015, a wild fight that saw Maldonado down in the second, twice in the third, and again in the fifth, where the fight was stopped. But he also dropped Imam in the third round. He's got grit and heart, has a crowd-pleasing style, and is dangerous. There's a lot to like about him. He's not a blue chipper, he's far from invincible, but he's a good action fighter who looks to knock people out, and if he can string together a few wins, he could get himself in position for something significant at 140.
Record: 17-2-2 (9 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 7-2-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7" / 67" ... Age: 34
Thoughts: Hovhannisyan is a pretty decent veteran fighter who is probably now best-known for being part of Ronda Rousey's Glendale squad. He hasn't fought since July 2014, when he lost a split decision to Jonathan Maicelo, and is 3-2 in his last fight, with another loss in early 2013 to Alejandro Perez.
Hovhannisyan is a solid scrapper, nothing really special about his game, but he's tough, comes to fight, and can handle himself. If he's the same fighter as he was when we last saw him a couple of years ago, this fight with Maldonado should be perfectly fun to watch.
Matchup Grade: C. Nothing to dislike here, really, other than the fact that Hovhannisyan hasn't fought in two years, and if you're tuning in to see top fighters (I don't know why you would, really, but let's say you are), you'll be disappointed. But on paper it's got action potential. Should be fine for what it is.
Taishan Dong vs Jonathan Rice
Record: 6-0 (3 KO) ... Streak: W6 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 6-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 7'0" / 84" ... Age: 28
Thoughts: He's really tall. He's also pretty terrible, but he is really, really tall. Probably doesn't have the skills of Nikolay Valuev, but it remains to be seen if he can live up to the legacy of Ewart Potgieter. Showdown with Zhang Zhilei would probably make trillions of dollars in Macau or Beijing.
Record: 3-1-1 (2 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 3-1-1 ... Last 10: 3-1-1 ... Stance: N/A ... Height/Reach: N/A / N/A ... Age: 29
Thoughts: Rice is the guy on the right up there. Has had two fights in Mexico, three in the United States, all at club level. He's fought twice this year, losing to Con Sheehan (making his pro debut) in January at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, then beating Mike Kyle on May 5 in Irvine, California, so you know he's ready to go, since he just fought two weeks ago. That'll be a positive here. Has weighed in between 251 and 279 pounds. Turned pro in February 2014. Wouldn't be getting this fight if he was perceived to be any kind of actual threat, not with Taishan so obviously suited for the higher levels of major boxing and such a can't-miss potential cash cow in the great mysterious nation of China. Not the Scottish-American singer-songwriter.
Matchup Grade: Z. This might make TV if there's time. It's a swing fight. But it's a TAISHAN! swing fight, and he is real fuckin' tall.