benitezhearnsccposter0206San Francisco, CA– We have talked about how Larry Holmes had a hard road to hoe in following Muhammad Ali. That being said, if there was ever a main event that could not live up to the semi-main, it was Thomas Hearns & Wilfred Benitez having to enter the ring after Wilfredo Gomez and Lupe Pintor. The exact date was December 3, 1982, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, with the wirehaired wonder Don King promoting this card at the Louisiana Superdome.

Before we get to the fight, let’s water the plant first. Lupe Pintor was a “rugged” Mexican fighter who went 12-1, 9 KOs in Mexico before coming to the Great Western Forum and meeting Albert Davila in February 1976. In a battle of bantamweights that would both go on to win World titles, Davila prevailed via unanimous decision.


Losing a couple of decisions along the way, Pintor was matched with the great Carlos Zarate (54-1, 53 KOs, only loss to Gomez) in Las Vegas on June 3, 1978. I believe they were both managed by Cuyo Hernandez, and Zarate a top five P4P guy at the time was not going to re-sign with Hernandez. After 15 rounds, judges Harold Buck and Art Lurie both saw it 143-142 Pintor, while Bob Martin scored the fight, are you ready, 145-133 for Zarate. That’s 12-3 in rounds! Feeling he had been screwed, Carlos would retire and not fight again for seven years.


Six months later, Pintor in what his people thought was just a non-title “work” fight, got worked and ended up a TKO 6 loser to 18-14 Manuel Vasquez. Still champ in 1980, this after besting Alberto “Superfly” Sandoval (TKO 12) he had to face Johnny Owen (19-2) at the Forum. The thin as a rail Owen, a Brit, down twice in the 12th, the last from which he never got up from. Owen would die afterward. The referee in that fight, chastised by writer Jack Fiske for going to Puerto Rico the next day to work a fight, this as Owen lay dying, was none other than Marty Denkin.


After getting revenge on the aforementioned Albert Davila, beating him on points, again in the then home of the L. A. Lakers, the truly Great Western Forum, Pintor began a roll. Five wins later, three being title defenses, Pintor moved up to 122 lbs. to face the then 37-1-1, 37 KOs, Wilfredo Gomez.


A Puerto Rican of iconic status, Gomez had massacred Mexican fighters, one of which was an ascending bantamweight champ named Carlos Zarate, whom he stopped brutally in five fistic frames in 1978. Gomez had claimed the WBC 122 lb. belt at just 16-0, 16 KOs with a KO in 12 of Dong-Kyun Yum (50-2-6) of Korea. With 14 straight defenses, all KOs, Gomez was matched with Salvador Sanchez in August 1981.


Whether he trained, had sex the night before, did Cocaine, all of these things were bantered about after he failed to make weight (126) for Sanchez, Gomez fought gamely considering Sal broke his cheekbone when he dropped him in the opening stanza. Losing a TKO 8, Gomez, who claimed to not be able to make 122 anymore, was back at the weight defending three fights later stopping future WBC 122 lb. champ Juan “Kid” Meza in six.


Two fights later, Gomez is matched with Pintor. Now that I’ve brought you up to date on these two Hall of Fame fighters, tomorrow we’ll go through 14 rounds of pugilistic mayhem. Remember, you are at www.RingTalk.com Come back for Part III Wednesday night for Thursday morning.

Pedro Fernandez


  • The fighters of the past had great technique and showed so much will and determination. The championship rounds determined who was the real champion. I am convinced that many of the modern fighters are on some sort of enhancement. Their technique is not as tight and in the later rounds they don’t show any sign of exhaustion. The 70s and 80s were a great time for boxing.

    Pedro you should consider running for Mayor. You listen to your constituents!
    Great writing! Looking forward to part three.

  • @ Carol: I beg to differ. Diego Corrales had lost twice going into the first Castillo bout. First to Floyd Mayweather and then to Joel Casamayor. In those losses, Corrales didn’t take anywhere near the level of punishment that he endured against Jose Luis Castillo. That was the fight that effectively ended Chico’s career.

    @ Garfios: Sickness or not, Gomez would have still beaten Zarate @ 122 lbs.

  • Zarate has his own excuse, he was sick the night of the fight with fever.

  • Saw the fight, and for the record Hector Duarte jr, Corrales had already bean through many wars, and the Castillo fight was the one that put him, half a step into a stepping stone fighter.
    Gomez and Pintor, was and continues to be one of the greatest fights ever!! These two fighters were at the time, in their prime, and considered pound for pound top 10 fighters. The fight was brutal, and they didn’t even get paid half of what they deserved. I to this date continue to talk about this fight, and those who’ve never seen it, should!!

  • And Bones, you’re still not welcome here.

  • Cant wait to read the rest of the story … good write up on some exciting history of our favorite sport Mr. Fernandez, thank you.

  • In his loss to Sanchez, Gomez showed he had “stones” despite being on the receiving end of a beatdown from the late Sanchez. Any lesser fighter could have easily quit after the first round Gomez had just experienced.

    The loss to Sanchez was the kind of defeat that can effectively ruin a fighter. It happened to Diego Corrales, who despite rallying back to KO Jose Luis Castillo in their legendary first meeting, never again won another fight. Corrales’s final one-sided loss to Joshua Clottey was particularly hard to watch.

    My point is that when you factor Gomez’s loss at the hands of Sanchez, his performance against Pintor becomes that much more amazing! You ask yourself, “What will it take for either of these two to just go down and stay there?!!”

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