By Derek Bonnett: Losing to Miguel Cotto can actually be good experience for one’s career. After their respective losses to Cotto, Carlos Quintana, Paulie Malinaggi, and Ricardo Torres each fought once before claiming world championships. Alfonso Gomez, a fifth round knockout loser to Cotto in April, has yet to step back into the ring, but has similar aspirations to get right back into the thick of things as a welterweight or, need be, a junior welterweight. Gomez, 18-4-2 (8), is younger than both Quintana and Torres and only a month Malinaggi’s senior.
Gomez, 27, should have the time to rebuild, but will he have the skill, the fortitude, and the opportunity? The last time I spoke with Gomez, he was in a darker place. He had many questions, but was without answers. He dared to believe in himself and still came up short. The issues that perplexed Gomez in April seem to have been sorted through and perhaps put into a better place for the time being. Like a flesh wound, injuries to one’s psyche can also heal with time and time spent on self-reflection often yields the answers we have been looking for.
“It’s always sad when you get the “L” on your record, but it’s true when they say that each loss is a learning experience,” Gomez reasoned earlier this week. “In this case, it wasn’t so much about the technical aspect of the sport or my skills. It was more of a rude awakening for my lifestyle and dedication to the sport. Now that my mind is clear, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m heading towards it with more fervor than ever. Now, I can’t wait to be back in the ring and see for myself who I have become after my loss and how much better I am after it.”
Gomez’ place within the welterweight division, often considered the sport’s most talented, may not be that far off from where he was before the Cotto defeat. Sure, he’s coming off of a loss, but that defeat was to Miguel Cotto. Thanks to Antonio Margarito, Cotto is in a position to have to rebuild and will probably be asking himself some of the same questions Gomez wrestled with these last several months. Margarito just might be the world’s best welterweight, but prior to beating Cotto was only two wins removed from losing to Paul Williams. Williams is only one fight removed from his loss to Quintana. Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron, and Quintana have yet to step into the ring since their most recent defeats.
“After my loss, I thought my career was over,” Gomez admitted. “I was blinded by that illusion for weeks, but as the fog began do dissipate before my eyes, I realized that losing against the best isn’t too hurtful for your career.”
So, where is the silver lining?
“A fight with Kermit Cintron has been mentioned; also a mouth-watering match against Chavez Jr. has been brought up. With the fight between Clottey and Judah [on August 2], a possible opponent is waiting for me. I’m going to push myself hard to try and campaign at 140 lbs where fights against Paul Malinaggi, Ricky Hatton and, soon, Manny Pacquiao, aren’t out of the question. Also, with Sergio Mora’s recent win over Vernon Forrest, a match-up against him would satisfy ’The Contender’ fanatics as well as boxing fans around the world. Nothing is set in stone yet, but the possibilities are many and very probable.”
The recent history of the division tells us it only takes a fight or two to find oneself back into the mix. But, what removes the blinders? How does a vanquished fighter finally get his head on straight? What are the support systems?
“[My] fans have never disappointed me in the support they provide me with,” Gomez acknowledged. “Every single one of them understood the situation and encouraged me to look forward to bigger and better things. They all saw that I tried my best, and they all saw that during the process, my mind and my heart never quit, which is what fans appreciate the most.”
Gomez offered his take on two upcoming bouts the last time we spoke; he was correct on both predictions. Now, the two victors are possible opponents for him down the road should opportunity decide to knock on his door again.
“I predicted Paul Williams would win because true champions come back stronger and harder after a loss,” Gomez explained. “I’m happy for Sergio’s victory because we have similar backgrounds growing up in a one-bedroom apartment with family. Now, if he’s able to capitalize on that victory, the future is set for him and his family. I wish him all the best.”
Much of the welterweight division’s prominent status has to be credited to Floyd Mayweather Jr., but he is no longer fighting…for the time being, some feel. Gomez had this to say about the former P4P best fighter.
“I think he is a smart person. Not everyone has the balls to say goodbye in their prime,” Gomez said with great candor. “I don’t think it’s either bad or good; I just think he is going to be remembered as one of the best of all time, and more champions will come and go as they have so far.
In regards to the epic battle between Cotto and Margarito, Gomez was equally frank.
“I just want to say that I’m glad to be Mexican, because Mexicans never quit.”
We will see Alfonso Gomez again. Hopefully, we will see him soon. As long as he identifies with his identity of being a non-quitter, he’ll be on the right path. After all, had Quintana, Torres, Malinaggi, Margarito, and Williams not felt similarly after their recent defeats, the heights they climbed afterward would have never been realized.
August 3, 2008