By Sean Crose
“There’s a lot of names out there and we want them all.”
So trainer Freddie Roach told me during a Tuesday conference call to promote Saturday’s Frankie Gomez-Humberto Soto match in Texas. The fight will appear on the Canelo Alvarez-James Kirkland undercard and may well be a coming out party for the super lightweight.
Indeed, Roach feels that Gomez, his protégé, is primed for the big time. “I think he’s ready for Amir Khan right now,” he claimed. Roach made it clear that Gomez has worked with plenty of big names in his star studded “Wild Card” gym and that he’s proven his mettle against the best.
“He does really well with all my top guys,” the trainer claimed.
Gomez himself, who boasts an 18-0 record with 13KOs, was quick to concur. “I’ll fight anybody,” he told me. “It’s just really up to the matchmakers, the promoters.”
First, though, Gomez will have to get past Soto, a man whose 65-8-2 record can be deceiving. For here’s a hardened, hungry ring vet with 35 knockouts to his name. It’s also worth noting that Soto’s last outing, against John Molina in September, proved to be a very impressive showing (he walked away with a unanimous ten round decision victory).
“I’m not in a position to pick and choose opponents,” Soto conceded through a translator. Still, the man exuded confidence. “I’m ready,” he said. “I think I have the experience.”
That experience will have to come into play, for Gomez is seen as a rising star. There’s no denying the 23 year old has youth, energy and a burgeoning reputation on his side. “Definitely one of the best prospects in the world today,” Roach said of the East LA native. “He’s just a great fighter.”
Gomez, however, is going to need to prove that himself on Saturday. Perhaps Soto summed up boxing best when he responded to a reporter’s question. “Talk is cheap,” he claimed. “What really matters is the hard work and effort you put in the gym.”
Roach would undoubtedly agree with that sentiment. “Frankie’s always in the gym,” he said of Gomez, adding that the time he’s had to spend with one Manny Pacquiao recently has not been detrimental to his young super lightweight.
“Marvin (Somodio) has been a great assistant,” Roach claimed. “It’s not a problem at all.”
Roach’s fighter agreed. “He’s been there every day,” Gomez said of Roach. “When I was there, he was training me at a different time (than he was Pacquiao).” Being a part of camp Wild Card undoubtedly had its advantages.
“He’s sparred with all the best fighters,” Roach stated. “He does very well with them.”
That’s something Soto is undoubtedly aware of. Not that he’s panicking.
“Every fight’s an opportunity,” he claimed. Clearly Saturday will present an opportunity that Soto aims to make the absolute most of.
Provided the ring vet pulls it off, however, what will Soto plan on doing next? “Well it’s a matter of sitting down with my team,” he told me. “If there’s a world champion out there whose willing to give me the opportunity, then I’d like to fight for the title.”
Without doubt, both fighters have a lot riding on Saturday’s match (which will be aired on HBO). Then again, boxing as a whole may have a bit riding on it, as well. There’s some bad blood out there after Saturday’s less than thrilling (though overly-derided) Mayweather-Pacquiao bout.
“The real winners of this fight,” says Soto, “are going to be the fans.”
HUMBERTO “LA ZORRITA” SOTO, Former Three-Division World Champion:
“Everything is really good and I am ready to go. I am relaxing right now. I am focusing on making weight.
“Every fight is an opportunity and I want to keep moving up the ladder to get to a world title fight.
“It is a matter of sitting with my team, but if there is a world champion out there willing to give me the opportunity, then I would like to fight for the title.
“The important thing is your mind and mentality and to condition your mind to win. We will both have that – physically and mentality. But the real winners will be the fans. This will be a good fight.
“Talk is cheap. What really matters is the hard work and effort you put in the gym. I have worked really hard for this fight and I think that will be what makes the difference.
“I can adjust against anything that Frankie throws at me. I think I will be victorious.
“I want to let the fans know that I appreciate them and thank you for the support. It will be a great fight and a great night of boxing. It is an important fight and I am just appreciative of all the support.”
FRANKIE “PITBULL” GOMEZ, Super Lightweight Top Contender:
“Thank you Golden Boy Promotions, HBO, my manager, and everyone for this opportunity.
“On May 9, there is going to be some good fights. I have been training hard and on Saturday we will se seeing good results.
“Soto has a lot of experience. He has been through a lot of fights. I have a lot of experience from my amateur career. I am not concerned and I am ready for this fight.
“Freddie has been there every day for training. It was a very good training camp and I am ready to show fans what I can do.
“I will fight anybody. It is up to my promoters, matchmakers, and team. I am not afraid of anybody.
“Fight against someone with more experience is a lot of pressure but I like working under it. It motivates me more to do better in the fight.
“I will fight anybody. They gave me Soto. I know he has more experience but I think I am ready and I have trained hard. I think I can win.
“I am planning to go all 10 rounds. I am not going to look for the knock out. He has a lot of experience with combinations, but I think I can handle him. I think my youth and power will help me overcome him.
“Don’t miss Saturday. It will be a good fight. Make sure to tune in.”
FREDDIE ROACH, International Boxing Hall of Fame Trainer and Trainer to Frankie Gomez:
“Frankie Gomez is one of the best fighters in the world today. He has potential to be a world champion. He is really going to shine here and it will open a lot of doors for him.
“Gomez is one of the best fighters in the world and spars at the best in our gym, like Manny Pacquiao and all of those guys.
“There are a lot of names of future opponents for Frankie and we want them all. He is ready for Amir Khan now. We will go against anybody. He is one of my top guys and people should be afraid. If you go against Frankie Gomez, you will get beat. I promise.
“It will be a great fight for Frankie and good step up in the right direction. He will be champion really soon. I guarantee that.”
ERIC GOMEZ, Senior Vice President of Golden Boy Promotions:
“This is a big opportunity for Frankie Gomez to shine. He is developed, and with such a developed prospect, there is no one better than Freddie Roach to train him. A victory over Soto will put him in a great place. This is his coming-out party.
“Frankie has the speed and the power. You can’t help but see him go to another level when he teamed up with Freddie. Freddie has really brought the best out of him, helping him get stronger and stronger. Every fight is a step in the next direction. He needs these kinds of fights to define himself and he is definitely becoming his own person.
“Soto is a dangerous fighter with lots of experience.. It will be a great fight. It is one of those fights will that could be a main event at any other show. With Canelo and Kirkland, it will be a huge night.”