Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
A year and a day since he appeared to have thrown away his once-promising career, Frankie "Pitbull" Gomez showcased the skill and aggression that had marked him down as a future star as he dominated veteran Mauricio Herrera over ten rounds in a welterweight contest.
On May 8 last year, Gomez weighed in a staggering six and a half pounds overweight for a scheduled junior welterweight contest against Humberto Soto, forcing the bout’s cancellation and causing many of those guiding his career to warn him of the need for a drastic and immediate shift in his approach to the sport. It was not his first transgression: he had been jailed in 2012 for theft and sentenced to probation two years later. Yet his promoter Oscar De La Hoya stuck with him, clearly seeing something in his troubled protégé; and on Saturday, Gomez finally demonstrated what that was.
Herrera had lost before, five times in fact, but rarely decisively. Indeed, his most recent two reversals, to Jose Benavidez and Danny Garcia were, depending on your perspective, anywhere from debatable to larcenous. But he was never in this bout with Gomez (21-0, 13 KOs), who swarmed him from the opening bell on his way to winning all ten rounds on all three judges’ scorecards.
Herrera sought to establish a conventional offense, stalking forward behind a stiff jab, but Gomez was having none of it, pivoting away from his opponent and launching power punches in bunches from every angle. His lead left hooks to the body and the head repeatedly doubled Herrera over, leaving him in range for a tremendous right uppercut that Gomez landed over and over.
The veteran Herrera (22-6, 7 KOs) was marked under the left eye as early as the second round, and under the right not long afterward. He was unable to resist the younger Gomez, who one minute fired three straight left hooks to Herrera’s head, and then brutalized his body along the ropes. This latter form of assault became the dominant theme of the fight, Herrera frequently retreating to the ropes of his own accord, unable or unwilling to expend the energy to stay off them, and awaited an attack that Gomez was happy to provide.
Generally, after launching a flurry, Gomez would step back, looking to reset; it was at these points that Herrera would have been well advised to counter with an attack of his own, but far too often he stayed rooted to the spot, conceding the inevitability of more incoming artillery.
Herrera stepped up his punch output in the second half of the bout, as Gomez perhaps tired just a little, but it was to no avail, as Gomez simply sidestepped most of his attacks and responded with vicious counters. A determined last-round stand from the veteran resulted solely in his walking into a violent buzzsaw that rocked his head in multiple directions, and although he made it to the final bell, the reading of the scores was a formality.