Gomez steps up to 10-round bout, tries to put sour 2012 behind him

As much as Frankie Gomez would like to accelerate his career and make up for lost time, he knows he has to remain patient to get where he wants to be – fighting for a world championship.

The 20-year-old welterweight, whose nickname is “Pitbull,” fights Lanard Lane to headline the Golden Boy Promotions boxing card tonight at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It’s the first 10-round fight of Gomez’s career, an important step for the East Los Angeles native, who at this time a year ago had taken a couple of steps backward after incidents with the law in California.

“It’s an important fight for me,” said Gomez (14-0, 11 knockouts). “I’m facing a good boxer, and this is my first time trying to go 10, so I trained for it.”

Gomez’s past three fights all ended early, mostly recently a first-round knockout of Pavel Miranda on Dec. 15 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

“I’m not going in there looking to knock guys out,” Gomez said. “But if the opportunity’s there, I’ll jump on it.”

Gomez, a former USA Boxing national champion and 2009 world championship silver medalist, signed with Golden Boy in 2010. His professional career began in Las Vegas with a third-round technical knockout of Clayvonne Howard at Mandalay Bay.

Gomez was making steady progress until January 2012, when his career was put on hold for 11 months. He was arrested in California for driving with a suspended driver’s license, followed by an arrest for drug possession, along with his failure to appear in court and a petty theft charge.

Gomez avoided jail time but lost valuable time in the ring. When he returned to action Nov. 3 against Manuel Leyva, he was a changed man. He was being trained by Freddie Roach. He was on a special diet. He was more dedicated to his craft than before his arrests.

“I want to show everyone that’s not who I am,” Gomez said. “Golden Boy stuck with me, and I’m very grateful to them for that.”

Tonight is Golden Boy’s first show at The Cosmopolitan, and the first card there since July 29, 2011. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said the company has wanted to hold a card at The Cosmopolitan for a while and hopes it does well enough to warrant a return engagement.

“It’s a wonderful property right on the Strip, and it caters to a younger crowd that we’re trying to attract to our fights,” Schaefer said. “It’s also a great place where we can showcase our young up-and-coming fighters like Frankie Gomez.”

Mickey Bey Jr. and Robert Rodriguez will meet in a co-feature, and former U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. will fight Jose Ruiz.

The first bell is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Fox Sports Networks and Fox Deportes telecast will begin at 8.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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