ALTHOUGH HE stood just 5-5 and fought at a weight no more than 130 pounds during his prime, Wilfredo Gomez is one of the most prolific punchers in boxing history.
Of Gomez' 44 wins, 42 came by knockout. At one point of his career, he won 32 consecutive fights by knockout and his first 40 victories all came inside the distance. Although he was a talented boxer, Gomez was capable of rendering opponents unconsious with either hand. Having won world titles in three weight classes and having established a division-record 17 title defenses at junior featherweight, Gomez is considered one of the greatest fighters to ever emerge from Puerto Rico.
Gomez won a world amateur title in 1974 and turned pro later that year. His first fight ended in a six-round draw, but the pint-sized puncher wouldn't allow a judge to decide the outcome of his next 32 victories. A knockout loss ended the streak but Gomez immediately embarked another streak, scoring eight straight knockouts until he decisioned iron-jawed Juan LaPorte in 1984.
Initially, Gomez campaigned as bantamweight, but his inability to secure a title fight led him to the junior featherweight division. In 1977, in just his 17th pro fight, Gomez climbed off the canvas to win the first of his three world titles by knocking out WBC junior featherweight champion Dong-Kyun Yum in the 12th round. En route to making 17 title defenses, Gomez knocked out Royal Kobayashi, Carlos Zarate, Juan (Kid) Meza and Lupe Pintor, before relinquishing his title in 1983.
Gomez was lured into a fight against great featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez during his impressive run at junior featherweight. Sanchez knocked out Gomez in the eighth round of their 1981 fight but Gomez would make a successful return to the featherweight division. In 1984, he won the WBC featherweight title by decisioning LaPorte. His reign ended one fight later when Azumah Nelson wrested the title from Gomez with an 11th-round knockout.
Another climb in weight followed the loss to Nelson and Gomez quickly earned his third title. This time it was accompanied by controversy. Fighting in Puerto Rico, in 1985, Gomez won a close majority decision over Rocky Lockridge to win the WBA junior lightweight crown. But again, his reign ended with his first defense. Gomez was knocked out in nine rounds by Alfredo Layne and retired shortly after.
Gomez made a one-fight comeback in 1989. He knocked out junior welterweight Mario Salazar in two rounds but retired again.