Salvador Sanchez vs. Wilfredo Gomez

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Sanchez floors Gomez.

Salvador Sanchez 126 lbs beat Wilfredo Gomez 126 lbs by TKO at 2:09 in round 8 of 15


  • Sanchez reportedly received $750,000 and Gomez $500,000.
  • The fight was shown on closed circuit television.
  • There was a capacity crowd of nearly 5,000 at the Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion. [2]

By Michael Katz | New York Times | August 22, 1981

LAS VEGAS, Nev., Aug. 21— Wilfredo Gomez, who almost lost the battle of the bulge this morning, was routed in the "Battle of the Little Giants" tonight when Salvador Sanchez of Mexico stopped the previously undefeated Puerto Rican at 2:09 of the eighth round of their long-awaited World Boxing Council featherweight title fight.

Referee Carlos Padilla stopped the fight after Gomez, with his right cheekbone broken, both eyes closed and his nose bleeding, bravely got up from his second knockdown in this confrontation of champions.

Sanchez, cool and calm as always in defending his title, almost scored a first-round knockout in a wild fight that more than lived up to expectations. He had Gomez down in the opening 30 seconds with a stunning left hook-right cross combination thrown with his back to the ropes. Sanchez then pulverized the cheekbone, which swelled gradually throughout the fight until Gomez's right eye was almost hidden.

Yet Gomez, who had a streak of 33 straight knockout victories - including 14 in title bouts - after starting his pro career with a draw in 1974, somehow survived the opening round and even went back on the attack at the start of the second.

Throughout the fight there were fierce toe-to-toe exchanges as Sanchez, who earned a reputation for an iron chin in stopping Danny (Little Red) Lopez twice last year, did not back away from the smaller man.

Trouble Making the Weight

Gomez, 24 years old, the W.B.C. superbantamweight (122-pound division) champion since February 1977, was moving up in weight class, but apparently not enough. He had to get up at 4:30 this morning, 4 1/2 hours before the weigh-in, to take off four pounds in order to make the featherweight limit of 126.

"There is no question the weight influenced the outcome immensely," said Gabriel Penagaricano, one of Gomez's lawyers, who represented the battered boxer at the post-fight news conference. "But that is absolutely no excuse. Sanchez proved tonight he was a formidable champion."

Sanchez, 22, trained for the bout, sparring 220 rounds, and was a solid 126 pounds when he entered the Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion ring. He also appeared supremely confident despite the 9-5 odds favoring Gomez.

Gomez Starts Quickly

Gomez quickly backed Sanchez against the ropes. A mistake. Sanchez, a marvelous counter-puncher, took a combination to the head and then fired back a left hook followed by a straight right that not only sent Gomez down, but dazed him.

Sanchez, better known for his right hands, scored heavily with more hooks as he calmly chased Gomez around the ring. It appeared for a while that Gomez would never survive such a battering. Along the way, Sanchez broke Gomez's cheekbone. Sanchez was unable to finish the fight in the first round, but the damage was done. By the sixth round, Gomez's left eye was also nearly closed and his nose was bleeding.

A few days ago, Sanchez had warned Gomez: "You had better take your picture before the fight because after I get through with you, you won't recognize yourself."

Sanchez carried out his prediction. But this was not as one-sided as Gomez's face, compared with Sanchez's unmarked one, looked. Gomez may have been weak from running at 4:30 in the morning and he may have been battered in the ring, but he never gave up.

And the three judges - the referee does not vote in Nevada - had the fight very close going into the eighth round. Judge Duane Ford had it 67-65, Henry Elespuru 67-66, and Charles Minker 67-65, all for Sanchez, on the 10-point scoring system.

Unification Bout a Possibility

Sanchez, in scoring his 40th victory against only one loss and a draw, must now be emphatically accorded a place as one of the finest boxers in any weight class. Don King, the co-promoter, said he was asked tonight by Eusebio Pedroza, the Panamanian who holds the World Boxing Association version of the 126-pound title, to arrange a unification fight. Sanchez said he would be interested, but he was more interested in going up to challenge Alexis Arguello for the W.B.C. lightweight championship.

Jose Sulaiman, the W.B.C. president, said after the fight he might fine Gomez for refusing to give a post-bout urine sample, as required by the sanctioning body's rules.

Only two years ago, Gomez was mentioned as Roberto Duran's chief rival for the mythical "pound-for-pound" title. Now he is a man without any title.

Gomez promised that, win or lose, he would relinquish the 122-pound title. Mike Ayala of San Antonio, Tex., and Juan Antonio Lopez of Mexico, the No. 1 and 2 W.B.C. contenders, are scheduled to fight for the vacant title.

The new champion's first defense was decided tonight when Juan (Kid) Meza of Los Angeles, the No. 3 W.B.C. 122-pounder, avenged a 1980 loss and stopped the No. 4 challenger, Carlos Mendoza, a Panamanian now living in Mexico, in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round contest.

Earlier on the undercard, Larry Holmes's little brother, Mark, continued as an undefeated middleweight, scoring his 13th straight victory with a unanimous eight-round decision over Fred Reed of Chicago. [3] [4]