New Mexico Boxing

HolmSandersGomez plans to bang it out with Garcia

Story & photos by Chris Cozzone

Not only does Joe Gomez plan to win Saturday night, against rival Four Corners area headliner, Elco Garcia, but he plans to do it in a way no one would guess.

“I’m going to bang it out with him,” says Gomez.

Gomez, 16-1-1, 8 KOs, of Bloomfield, N.M., known for slick boxing rather than slugging, is in for the biggest test of his career, when he takes on “The Animal” Garcia, 20-7, 9 KOs, of Durango, Colo., Saturday night at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colo.

In a bout that pits the top two draws in the Four Corners area from the last ten years, Gomez-Garcia is a showdown that rivals a rivalry from the ‘30s, between Farmington’s Abie Chavez and Durango’s Chuckers Hildebrand.

“He’s been the top dog for years, but now I’m coming up,” says Garcia.

“I do consider this my biggest fight . .. but every fight is my biggest. Still, since the day I turned pro, I had a hunch this fight was going to happen.”

Gomez, 24, turned pro in 2004; Garcia, nearly 38 and a pro since 1997, was working on his 20th fight at the time.

“Still, it wasn’t like a rivalry because we sparred a lot.”

Gomez hasn’t sparred with Garcia for two years, but considers his cross-state rival a friend.

“It was an even sparring session,” says Gomez. “But actually I dropped him in sparring—he’ll probably deny it. He never hurt me, though.”

Gomez says he’s never been hurt like he was in his classic ten-rounder with the late Vicente Garcia, in 2005. In that bout, Garcia not only floored Gomez twice, but broke his jaw. Gomez, however, went on to win a split decision.

“It’s the hardest I was ever hit,” admits Gomez. “He had heavy hands and hurt me every time he landed.”

After experiencing Vicente Garcia, Gomez says he’s not worried about Elco.

“He’s big, but he doesn’t hit hard,” says Gomez. “He also doesn’t have fast hands. He’s got long arms and I know it’ll be a better fight to be on the inside with him.

“I’m just that confident.”

Gomez says he’s already on weight, but doubts that Garcia is going to be at full strength at the 155-pound contract limit.

“He’s used to fighting at middleweight,” says Gomez, “and hasn’t been at 154 in a couple years. I think it’ll be like De La Hoya draining himself to fight Pacquiao.”

Now a free agent, his contract with Albuquerque promoter Lenny Fresquez at an end, Gomez says he’d like to fight outside New Mexico—unless a match can be made with Joaquin Zamora. Austin Trout, considered the top 154 pounder in the state, is also an option, “if it happens.”

“Right now, it’s Elco Garcia. We’re friends, but once the bell rings, there’s no such as friendship.”