Eric Gomez never sought to navigate the perils of boxing promotion without the near daily access to his longtime mentor Don Chargin. Now he’ll have to. But first, on Sunday, he’ll celebrate what he’s achieved under Chargin’s guidance.
Gomez, 45, will be among the inductees at the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony at The Garland hotel in North Hollywood. Other inductees include the late light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore, Philippines flyweight “Flash” Elorde, welterweight Hedgemon Lewis, late manager Jackie McCoy and longtime publicist John “Johnny Bey” Beyrooty.
Chargin, California’s longest-licensed fight promoter (69 years), died at 90 last week following a battle against lung and brain cancer. Chargin hoped to attend the ceremony honoring the man he groomed, and his business partner, Paco Damian, said they’d planned to drive from Chargin’s home in Cambria on Saturday.
“Chargin made me. He was kind enough to take me under his wing, and Don has touched many people in this sport,” said Gomez, who rose beyond matchmaker to become president of childhood friend Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
Gomez befriended De La Hoya from kindergarten on at Ford Boulevard Elementary in East Los Angeles.
“When things became so hard-core and disciplined for him with his dad and boxing, I brought normality and some joy to him,” Gomez said.
Chargin groomed Gomez while serving as an advisor to Golden Boy. Gomez’s role in making matches with his partner, Robert Diaz, led De La Hoya to make him president upon the departure of former Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer.
Gomez had his hand in three consecutive fights of the year: Lucas Matthysse-John Molina Jr. at StubHub Center in 2014, Francisco Vargas-Takashi Miura in 2015 in Las Vegas and Vargas-Orlando Salido at StubHub in 2016. Most recently, Gomez presided over the lucrative Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin middleweight title fights.
“When you think about Hall of Fame, you think of someone retired, being much older, but thinking back, I’ve been in this business for 20 years,” Gomez said. “So this is very nice, very humbling, doing something I love, and it’s nice to know that people recognize the madness I go through.
“The business can be crazy, tough, cut-throat with a lot of sleepless nights, but I’m glad it’s all paid off.”
Due to the sexual assault charges filed against former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz this week, his scheduled fight against fellow Southland foe Molina in the main event Sunday in Ontario has been replaced by a featherweight bout, with Molina promised another date soon.
The FS1-televised card at Citizens Business Bank Arena will now be headed by unbeaten featherweight Brandon Figueroa (16-0, 11 knockouts) in a test of experience against 34-year-old recent title-challenger Oscar Escandon (25-4, 17 KOs) of Colombia. The bout is scheduled for 10 rounds.
Following preliminaries that start at 3:15 p.m., the televised portion of the card begins at 6 and boasts two unbeaten heavyweights that veteran promoter Schaefer is excited about: England’s Joe Joyce and Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba. Joyce (5-0, 5 KOs), a super-heavyweight who fought in the 2016 Olympics, meets Iago Kiladze (26-3, 18 KOs) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds.
Ajagba (6-0, five KOs), who was scheduled to fight last month in Minnesota until his opponent walked out of the ring just after the first bell, meets Nick Jones (7-0, 5 KOs).