Manuel Charr vs. Juan Carlos Gomez, December 22nd
The Diamond Boy (WBC #9) is coming back against bad-penny contender Pantera Negra (WBC #33) to embark on the road to his desired rematch with WBC heavyweight champion Dr. Iron Fist.
It's taking place in Charr's backyard. Der Vaterland is also Gomez's adoptive home, but the card is being promoted by Charr himself. Charr is stacking the deck for himself to shoot back up the rankings and count a laudable coup on paper, taking on a man who's the same size but eleven years older and in notoriously poorer shape than Charr, and growing long in the tooth even for heavyweight with once formidable skills well into deterioration. It's scheduled for twelve, so in spite of Gomez's low ranking making an eliminator unlikely - don't rule out some minor vacant WBC bauble (like the "Asia Boxing Council" piece of tin last defended by Chauncy Welliver in January) to wind up on the line, propelling Charr into an eliminator next time out assuming everything goes to plan. Charr was looking for an immediate rematch with Vitali Klitschko, so chances are he'll be keeping a very active schedule and skipping the rebuilding process against any unranked no-marks while racing the clock against Vitali's impending retirement. He'll probably be looking to make statements as well, hunting for knockouts to help plead his case for redemption, so expect a little more aggression than usual from him.
Gomez should arguably be undefeated dating back to his own loss to Vitali Klitschko in 2009. In the nearly four years since then he's competed eight times but only half of those outings have been remotely meaningful: blasting out Mazikin (a roughly Firtha/Gavern level Ukrainian), respectably shutting out professional gut-checker and fine-tuning practice-dummy Zack Page, and splitting a pair with former Cruiserweight KO artist and bubble man Ding-A-Ling Wilson. Gomez sustained an injury the first time and fought effectively one-handed, but still earned the nod in many observers' view (similar to Chambers vs. Adamek) - and then avenged the loss by stopping Ding on cuts. Over thirteen-plus rounds together he failed to really separate himself by too much from Wilson, a sluggish and ineffective heavyweight well past his best days. The smooth and perennially calm southpaw was at one time considered among the top h2h big men after K2, but that was long ago. He'll need to bring more intensity than he's shown in years to stave off the very hungry and obsessively determined (and much fresher) protagonist of the show. He can still out-jab Charr in a fencing match, but that might not be enough.