Willie Gomez, a Kent-Meridian High School senior-to-be, spars at the White Center PAL (Police Activities League) Gym in Seattle in preparation for his pro debut Aug. 3. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Willie Gomez, a Kent-Meridian High School senior-to-be, spars at the White Center PAL (Police Activities League) Gym in Seattle in preparation for his pro debut Aug. 3. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Ready to step into the pro boxing ring

After a 50-fight amateur run, Kent’s Gomez shaping his skills for the next step

Once a pudgy kid who wanted to fight but had no idea on how to throw a punch has become a skilled, determined boxer who is preparing for his first pro bout.

Meet Willie Gomez, a soon-to-be 18-year-old from Kent who has won 36 of 50 amateur fights and become a quick study of trainer Keith Weir’s early school of hard knocks to step into the pro ring next month.

“It’s not what I want, it’s what he wants,” Weir said of his pupil pugilist’s recent decision to turn pro. “He wants to take it to the next level. He has more of a pro style than he does as an amateur. We’ve had him spar against some pros, and he’s done really with them. His style is meant for the pro ring.”

Gomez will face a yet-to-be determined foe in a four-round bout between 138-pounders on the 2Pound Sports and Entertainment’s Aug. 3 fight card at the Clackamas (Ore.) Armory. The event will feature some of the top, young talent from the Pacific Northwest.

Gomez, a senior-to-be at Kent-Meridian High School, said he is ready for the challenge.

“I want to go as far as I can go,” Gomez said between sparring sessions at his training ring inside the White Center PAL (Police Activities League) Gym in Seattle. “I’m real excited. I’ve waited a long time. I’ve always wanted to go pro. It was the only thing on my mind.”

Boxing was second to soccer early on in his youth, but Gomez always wanted to try on the gloves. His grandfather and cousin were boxers. His family grew up around the ring.

Five years ago, Gomez and his family wandered into the gym. Weir eventually noticed the raw kid and took him under his wing. This kid was different.

“We’ve had more skilled fighters, but Willie has always had the heart and determination,” said Weir, a trainer, promoter and matchmaker for 13 years. “He’s always steady and consistent.”

Weir, a former fighter who trains youth in the White Center gym, taught Gomez the basics and the technical aspects of the sport. He listened and grew.

Gomez, a junior welterweight or lightweight, won the 2015 Junior Golden Gloves Nationals in Mesquite, Nev., finished second in one national outing in 2017 and was third at a national Silver Gloves event.

“He’s aggressive but he can box, too. He’s got pretty slick defense, good head movement. He can make you miss. He counters well,” Weir said. “He hits pretty hard for his weight.”

After absorbing a flurry of punches from Gomez in a sparring round, Miklo Arnold added: “He’s great with the combination (punches), definitely, and he’s accurate.”

Weir is in no hurry to develop the growing, 5-foot-9 Gomez. There is so much to grasp. He throws a strong left hook to the body, and other parts of his attack will emerge with time.

“We are going to learn and improve from each fight,” he said. “We might have two or four fights this year, who knows. We will determine that after each fight …. Is he world caliber right now? No, but who is when they’re first starting out? He has a lot of potential. We’ll see. We have a lot of years ahead of us.

“I’m excited about it, I’m excited for him.”

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