Boxing: Alvarez hammer blows put Gomez career on ropes

It all went wrong for Michael Gomez here in Manchester last night.

It all went wrong for Michael Gomez here in Manchester last night.

Gomez was stopped on his feet in the sixth round of a fight that he never once looked like winning by the relatively unknown and untested Argentinian Javier Osvaldo Alvarez.

The defeat cost Gomez his World Boxing Union super featherweight title but that is nowhere near as serious as the problem he must face regarding his future. Last night Gomez, who is just 27, looked like a totally shot fighter.

When it was over and the referee, Mickey Vann, had sensibly decided that enough was enough, Gomez looked like he had fought 15 torrid and savage rounds and not just five-and-a-half relatively easy rounds against a boxer rather than a puncher.

Alvarez did nothing special for two rounds but he seldom if ever left himself exposed to any of Gomez's jabs or wild rights. At the start of the third round Alvarez suddenly shifted gears, moved a few inches closer and started to let his punches flow. Even then he looked like a stylish boxer rather than a ruthless slugger, but sadly Gomez simply had no reply.

By the fourth round it was obvious that the 5-1 odds against Alvarez leaving Manchester with the title were an enormous mistake by the bookies. There was nothing that Gomez could do to get his back off the ropes or his head clear of Alvarez's fists.

In the sixth round the pace slowed and settled, which clearly suited Alvarez, who picked his shots with precision. Gomez did try to take the initiative and move forward but his punches fell short and his head was repeatedly thrown back by his opponent's counters.

With less than one minute to go a short right sliced with ease through Gomez's fists and landed flush on his bloody jaw. He staggered back and then two more punches sent him tumbling to the canvas.

He smashed the canvas with his fist in anger which, considering his dreadful performance seemed perfectly justified. Gomez fought like a stranger to the boxing business last night and not like a man having his 38th contest in the 10th year of his professional career.

He did beat the count but there was nothing left in his legs and as he tried desperately to block and move away from Alvarez's final assault he left the referee absolutely no alternative but to jump forward to end the contest.

In theory a rematch could take place, but for that to happen Gomez would have to somehow convince everybody, including himself, that last night was a fluke. However, it certainly never looked that way.

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