Local boxers return to fight in Ignacio June 9
Written by: Shirena Trujillo-Long
Four Corners boxing fans will be delighted when local fighters Joe Gomez and Victor Barela take center stage in the ring on Saturday, June 9 at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio.
Both Hispanic boxers are making comebacks – Gomez from a broken hand in May 2006, and Barela from a fractured back and broken hand after a car accident in Wyoming in July 2006.
“This is a comeback fight, “ Barela told El Valle News in a phone interview from his home between Bloomfield and Farmington. “I am looking forward to becoming the first world champion out of Farmington.”
Barela, 23, will box against Manuel Saravia, from Las Vegas, Nev., in what will be his ninth professional fight since he turned pro in a Sky Ute Casino match in 2001.
Gomez, the 22-year-old Hispanic boxer from Aztec, will fight in a 152-lb match against Rene Francisco Herrera from El Paso. This is his first fight back at Sky Ute since he defended his first international Mundo Hispano title in a match held in Ignacio in October 2005.
“I won the Mundo Hispano title at Sky Ute, and defended my title on my next fight,” Gomez said. “Then, I gave it up because I wanted to go for the next title higher than that.”
Gomez is ranked by the National Association of Boxing Federation (NABF) now, but wants to earn a title with the International Boxing Federation.
“I hope very soon to earn that title,” he said. “All I have to do is keep knocking these guys out and that will put me closer to that.”
Both boxers share a common background in that they were raised in Northern New Mexico. Gomez was born in Farmington, attended Aztec public schools, and trained in Bloomfield. Barela was born in Utah, raised in Chihuahua City, and then came back to Farmington when he was still a youth.
“I came to Farmington when I was really young because my grandfather lives here, and I have been here for a long time,” he told El Valle.
Barela started boxing at age 12. “I always liked to fight as a little kid, no matter who or where,” he said. “I was always fighting with my brother,my sister, I was really hardheaded.”
Gomez says he too always liked to fight, but he started earlier at age 8 when his uncle introduced him to the sport.
“My uncle brought me to the gym one day and I remember getting my belt on and sparring at the gym that day,” he recalls. “I just wanted to go back and back. I just stayed in the gym, learned the discipline of the gym and my Uncle Dom really took me under his wing.”
Today, Gomez’ uncle Dominic Martinez is his official trainer with Brian White as his cut-man. Both have helped Gomez through the transition of turning professional at age 19. He now has 12 professional fights underhis belt, and is fighting in a higher weight class than before.
“A lot of people think you go up in weight because I just slacked off training,” he said. “But, it’s really hard to keep the weight off the older you get, and I’m feeling stronger now that I’m at my natural weight class.” He has 3 percent body fat.
Gomez is making his comeback after he broke his hand in a May 2006 fight in Albuquerque. He said it’s taken a long time to recover, but he’s ready to fight.
“I’m still loving it,” he said. “Once you stop loving it, then it’s time to quit because that’s when you get hurt. For me, it’s still my Number 1 passion. I love to fight.”
Barela also has that passion for fighting. His first boxing match was at Brookside Park in Farmington, when his uncle took him to see what real, sanctioned fighting was like.
“At the time, I didn’t think I would stay with it that long,” he said.
Barela started training at 11th Street Boxing Gym with Jose Herrera, who stresses training, and discipline with conditioning. His trainer now is Danny Martinez, who helped him recover from a serious automobile accident last summer.
“It messed up by back and my left hand,” he said. “I thought I was done, but I said I’d get back in the ring no matter what.”
Both Barela and Gomez are anxious to fight in front of a local audience because they say it makes them fight harder. “It’s real exciting,” Barela said. “It makes you work harder to show that I’m one of the best fighters out there.”
Gomez says: “I love the energy fighting in front of a local crowd. The energy just rises me so much more when I’m in the fight.”
Professional bouts on Saturday, June 9 begin at 7 p.m., with amateur bouts starting at 4:30 p.m. Tickets range from $20-35, and will not be available at the door. To order, call (888) 842-4180.