Wilfredo Gomez Rivera (born October 29, 1956), sometimes
referred to as Bazooka Gomez, is a Puerto Rican former professional
boxer and three time world champion. He is frequently mentioned among
the best Puerto Rican boxers of all time by sports journalist and
analyst, along with Felix Trinidad, Miguel Cotto, Wilfred Benitez,
Hector Camacho, Edwin Rosario, and Carlos Ortiz. His seventeen consecutive
knockouts in championship defenses is a record for all boxing divisions.
was born in a poor area of Las Monjas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He
has admitted to newspapers that, as a little child, he had to fight
off bullies on Las Monjas' streets. He constantly fought in school
as per his family members remember. He has told some Puerto Rican
newspapers that he felt he was born to fight because of that situation.
Gomez's father was a taxi driver and his mother was a homemaker. Gomez
himself reportedly used a bicycle as means of transportation when
he was young, and he sold candy to earn pocket money before becoming
an amateur boxer.
Amateur career and professional debut
won the gold medal at the 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games
held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and 1974 World Championships
in Havana, Cuba before turning professional. He also competed in the
1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany, getting eliminated by an Egyptian
rival in the Olympic's first round of bouts. He compiled an overall
record of 96 wins and 3 defeats as an amateur boxer. Because of his
family's economical situation, he decided not to wait for the 1976
Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, opting to begin making money right
after the Cuban competition instead. Coming from Puerto Rico, he settled
for less money and exposure from the American media, and moved to
Costa Rica, where he began to tour all of Central America in hopes
of finding matches. His professional debut came in Panama City, Panama,
where he fought to a draw with Jacinto Fuentes.
After this inauspicious debut, he reeled off a streak of 32
knockout wins in a row. Including wins over Fuentes, who was dispatched
in 2 rounds in a rematch, and future world champion Alberto Davila,
who lasted 9 rounds before being defeated. His 32 knockout wins in
a row make him one of two world champions with the longest knockout
streak in history, placing him in a third place tie behind Lamar Clark
(44) and Billy Fox (43) for the all time knockout streak, and tied
with Dontay Wilder. Among world champions, Gomez had the longest knockout
winning streak; neither Clark nor Fox won world titles. After Deontay
Wilder defeated Bermane Stiverne for the WBC world Heavyweight title
by unanimous 12 round decision on January 17, 2015, Wilder, who had
won his first 32 fights by knockout, tied Gomez for the longest knockout
streak by a world champion in boxing history, but at the same time
had his own knockout streak snapped, ending his hopes to break Gomez's
record and become the world champion with the longest streak.
knockout streak caught the eye of the WBC Super Bantamweight champion
Dong Kyun Yum of South Korea, who travelled to San Juan, Puerto Rico
to defend his crown against Gomez, Yum had a promising start, dropping
Gomez 30 seconds into the bout, but Gomez picked himself up and eventually
won the crown, his first world title, with a 12th round knockout.
His first defense took him to the Far East, where he beat former world
champion Royal Kobayashi in 3 rounds in Tokyo. Kobayashi had lasted
5 rounds vs Alexis Arguello. Next was Ryu Tomonari in a small city
of Thailand. He lasted 2 rounds.
Gomez's streak reached 32 knockouts
in a row. Those 32 knockouts in a row included what is generally considered
to be his biggest victory ever, a five round defeat of world Bantamweight
champion Carlos Zarate, who was 55-0 with 54 knockout wins coming
into their San Juan bout. also included in that streak was future
world champion Leo Cruz, beaten in 13 rounds at San Juan and Derrick
Holmes, knocked out in five rounds in a fight attended, among others,
by Sylvester Stallone, Carl weathers and Alexis Arguello. After recording
his 32nd knockout win in a row, he moved up in weight to face the
world featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez of Mexico. He lost to
Salvador Sanchez by 8th round TKO.