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Gomez Decisions Virchis

gomez4535.jpgBy Erik Schmidt: In the WBC heavyweight title eliminator bout between number #1 ranked Vladimir Virchis (24-2, 20 KOs) and the number # 2 ranked fighter Juan Carlos Gomez (44-1, 35 KOs), Virchis was soundly defeated in a 12-round unanimous decision loss to the 35 year-old Gomez at the Color Line Arena, Altona, in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday night. Virchis, 35, was knocked down in the 4th round, and appeared to lose every round except for the 10th, and the 11th.

Gomez, also 35, was deducted a point for hitting low in the 11th, otherwise he would have likely won that round as well. With the win, Gomez is now the mandatory challenger for the WBC heavyweight title, which means that he’ll be facing either Vitali Klitschko or Samuel Peter, whoever comes out the winner between them in their WBC title match on October 11th. Gomez was much too fast for Virchis, having little trouble with out-boxing the much slower, plodding Virchis. It seemed as if Virchis had a lot of problems with Gomez’s movement and fast hands, and was unable to come up with a plan B to get into the fight. Virchis came shuffling forward continuously in the fight, walking into jabs, and a ton of lefts from Gomez, who found it easy to hit the slow-moving Virchis. Through most of the rounds, Virchis rarely landed anything at, and it stayed that way largely until the 10th round when he suddenly began showing a lot more urgency by pressuring Gomez.

It was unfortunate that Virchis waited so long, because if he had seen any of Gomez’s previous fights, he’d have noticed that Gomez has a shaky chin and can be hurt if he’s pressured hard and hit with a lot of punches. This was the case with Gomez’s first round knockout loss to Yanqui Diaz four years ago in August 2004. However, Virchis didn’t seem comfortable with fighting all out, and instead seemed to want to trade back and forth at close range. With Gomez, that wasn’t going to happen because he moved constantly around the ring, and when he would stop, it would only be long enough to throw several shots and then get moving again.

In the 4th round, Virchis was knocked down by a left hook from Gomez moments after Virchis hand landed a big right hand to his midsection. Virchis was unhurt, however, and continued fighting as before, taking punishment.

In the 6th round, both fighters began throwing harder shots, looking as if they were trying to knock each other out. Initially, it was Virchis that started punching harder, but Gomez then increased the power on his own shots, except that he was hitting him much more often. By the end of the round, Gomez was pummeling the slower Virchis repeatedly with blows to the body and head, causing the fight to look even more one-sided than it had already been up to this point. As far as I could tell, Virchis had come close to winning none of the rounds, and was looking positively terrible, like he didn’t belong in the same right with Gomez.

The beating continued in rounds seven and eight, with Virchis looking red-faced, tired and badly beaten by the faster, more highly skilled Gomez. The domination continued until the 10th, when Virchis started throwing hard combinations and applying a lot of pressure on Gomez. Unable to fight well going backwards, Gomez began to take a lot of right hands to the head and looked really uncomfortable. Luckily for him, Virchis didn’t have quite enough power or speed to hurt him, because Gomez looked ripe for a knockout in the round if Virchis had a little more power.

In the 11th round, Gomez was penalized for throwing a low blow. The deduction caused Gomez to fight with more urgency, and he once again started battering Virchis around the ring at will. This continued into the 12th, although Virchis did land a couple of good right hands as he desperately tried for a knockout. However, he was unable to summon enough strength to take him out, despite hitting Gomez with a couple of good shots.

The final judges’ scores were 117-110, 117-109 and 115-111.

The scary part about this win is that Gomez looked good enough to beat either Klitschko or Peter, showing better skills than both of them put together. I doubt that Klitschko will fight him, however, because I can see Vitali retiring rather than giving Gomez a shot at the title. A likely scenario would be Vitali being stripped of his title instead of taking on the dangerous Gomez, who is like a busier Chris Byrd.

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