Erik Morales, Wilfredo Gomez and Carmen Basilio SIGNED International Boxing Hall of Fame 2006 Induction Programme.
Although Gomez stood just 5-5 and fought at a weight no more than 130 pounds during his prime, Wilfredo Gomez is one of the most prolific punchers in boxing history.
Of Gomez' 44 wins, 42 came by knockout. At one point of his career, he won 32 consecutive fights by knockout and his first 40 victories all came inside the distance. Although he was a talented boxer, Gomez was capable of rendering opponents unconsious with either hand. Having won World titles in three weight classes and having established a division-record 17 title defences at junior featherweight, Gomez is considered one of the greatest fighters to ever emerge from Puerto Rico.
Gomez won a World amateur title in 1974 and turned pro later that year. His first fight ended in a six-round draw, but the pint-sized puncher wouldn't allow a judge to decide the outcome of his next 32 victories. A knockout loss ended the streak but Gomez immediately embarked another streak, scoring eight straight knockouts until he decisioned iron-jawed Juan LaPorte in 1984.
Initially, Gomez campaigned as bantamweight, but his inability to secure a title fight led him to the junior featherweight division. In 1977, in just his 17th pro fight, Gomez climbed off the canvas to win the first of his three World titles by knocking out WBC junior featherweight champion Dong-Kyun Yum in the 12th round. En route to making 17 title defences, Gomez knocked out Royal Kobayashi, Carlos Zarate, Juan (Kid) Meza and Lupe Pintor, before relinquishing his title in 1983.
Gomez was lured into a fight against great featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez during his impressive run at junior featherweight. Sanchez knocked out Gomez in the eighth round of their 1981 fight but Gomez would make a successful return to the featherweight division. In 1984, he won the WBC featherweight title by decisioning LaPorte.
His reign ended one fight later when Azumah Nelson wrested the title from Gomez with an 11th-round knockout.
Another climb in weight followed the loss to Nelson and Gomez quickly earned his third title. This time it was accompanied by controversy. Fighting in Puerto Rico, in 1985, Gomez won a close majority decision over Rocky Lockridge to win the WBA junior lightweight crown. But again, his reign ended with his first defence. Gomez was knocked out in nine rounds by Alfredo Layne and retired shortly after.
Gomez made a one-fight comeback in 1989. He knocked out junior welterweight Mario Salazar in two rounds but retired again.
Carmen Basilio, two-division champion was one of the most popular fighters or his era. His tough, gritty style not only won him World titles, but it was the heart and desire he displayed in the ring that won him a place in the hearts of 1950s boxing fans, as well as two "Fighter of the Year" honors (1955 and 1957) from the Boxing Writers Association of America. So it's not surprising that his enduring legacy prompted his fellow townsmen of Canastota, New York, to honor him with a statue -- more than two decades after he retired -- which gave them the impetus to found the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
After his Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps, this son of an onion farmer turned pro in 1948. For the first four years, most of his fights were in central or western New York. A series of three consecutive tough contests, a draw and a loss to Chuck Davey and a loss to Billy Graham, catapulted him to prominence, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.
In 1953, he decisioned former lightweight king Ike Williams and later beat Graham for the New York State welterweight title. He then defended the title with draw, again against Graham. Basilio's fist World title bout, against Kid Gavilan was a grueling contest. He dropped Gavilan in the second round. The Kid barely beat the count and recovered to win a 15-round decision.
Undeterred, Basilio continued his quest for a World championship. He went 9-0-2 in his next 11 bouts. In that string, he won rematches with the two opponents he drew with. His dream of winning a World title was realized on June 10, 1955. Before a hometown crowd in nearby Syracuse he went toe-to-toe in a bloody affair with welterweight champ Tony DeMarco. The champ had the best in the early going but Basilio came on strong, dropped DeMarco twice in the 10th round pressed the issue until the referee stepped in and halted the bout in the 12th.
Basilio beat DeMarco in his first defence, but lost a 15-round decision to Johnny Saxton in his next fight. But he regained the title from Saxton in a rematch (KO 9) and stopped him in two rounds in the first defence of his second reign. As 1957 moved on, Basilio set his sights on the middleweight crown and its owner, Sugar Ray Robinson.
That bout took place Sept. 23, at Yankee Stadium. Giving away advantages in height and reach, he sustained heavy punishment and a badly cut left eye, and won the title in one of the most action-packed bouts of the decade.
But in the rematch on March 25, the following year, Robinson regained the title in an equally taxing bout. He peppered Basilio's face, which this time succumbed to Robinson's repeated jabs and right crosses. Basilio fought most of the bout with his left eye totally shut. With this dogged pursuit of victory under such conditions he garnered even more respect.
After two wins, he twice unsuccessfully challenged champion Gene Fullmer, who had dethroned Robinson. He was stopped via 14th-round kayo Aug. 28, 1959 and via 12th-round kayo June 29, 1960. He won two more decisions before losing a 15-round decision to middleweight champion Paul Pender on April 22, 1961. Although he left the ring vanquished, it's only fitting that Basilio's last fight was for a World title.
In 1974, Basilio's nephew, Billy Backus, became the second Canastotian to win a World title, when he wrested the welterweight belt from the legendary Jose Napoles. The gregarious Carmen, as well as fellow Hall-of-Famer, Willie Pep, is a frequent visitor to the Hall.
At the age of 30, Erik has been successful at the highest levels of competition for almost a decade, and universally recognized as one of the best boxers in the World at any weight, "pound-for-pound." He has also been one of the most exciting, and fought in several of the most sensational battles of recent years.
The former WBC super bantamweight, two-time featherweight, and super featherweight World champion, Erik became only the second fighter from Mexico to win World titles in three weight divisions, Julio Cesar Chavez was the first. Like Chavez, Erik is a certain future Hall of Famer.
He is also one of the very few fighters to have two epic trilogies in his career. Erik is coming off his third fight against former two-time World champion Manny Pacquiao, and he had a spectacular three-fight series with five-time World champion Marco Antonio Barrera, as well.