ON October 28, 1978 two future Hall of Famers clashed in a famous Mexico vs Puerto Rico brawl. Puerto Rican hero Wilfredo Gomez defended his WBC super-bantamweight belt against Mexican bantamweight champion Carlos Zarate at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan.
GOMEZ needed five rounds to get the better of Zarate, knocking him down three times in the process, to retain his belt. The fight boasts the highest knockout percentage shared between two fighters in a world title fight.
GOMEZ entered the ring with after knocking out 21 of his victims, although he drew his first professional fight, while Zarate, who held the WBC bantamweight title going into the fight, had knocked out 54 of his 55 opponents.
BOTH men went through gruelling camps, with international bragging rights on the line, as well as the title, with both men wanting to give their country something to cheer.
THE Mexico – Puerto Rico remains one of the most intense rivalries in boxing today as it was back then, and this fight captured the imagination of both countries.
THE day before the fight, tensions were high, and both men failed to make the weight. Both came in at 124lbs, 2lbs over the limit and whilst “Bazooka” Gomez made it at the second attempt, Zarate toiled and drained himself down, making it at the fourth time of asking.
WHEN they entered the ring, anticipation for the fight was at fever pitch. The power shots landed at will and a brawl was on the cards. But Gomez had other ideas and decked Zarate in the fourth.
THE Mexican champion was up, but Gomez pressed forward, knocking him down again at the end of the round, just after the bell sounded. Roared on by a partisan crowd, Gomez went out to finish the job and 44 seconds later it was all over.
AS referee Harry Gibbs waved the fight off, Zarate’s corner simultaneously threw in the towel. Gomez retained his title, which he would hold until vacating in 1983, before securing two more world belts at two more weights.
BOTH men are rightly considered all-action heroes, with both inducted into the Hall of Fame, Gomez in 1995 and Zarate the year previously in 1994.
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