Saturday night at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England, former British and WBU Super Feather Champ Michael Gomez gave Commonwealth Lightweight titlist Amir Khan a tremendous fight before being controversially stopped in the fifth round of a thrilling contest.
Gomez came out in his characteristically aggressive manner, surging forward behind the jab and forcing Khan onto the backfoot immediately. Khan attempted to pick off his opponent but Gomez bobbed and weaved his way inside, lashing the Bolton starlet to the body whenever close enough to do so.
Khan showed his quality early as well, dumping the Manchester hard man on the seat of his pants at the end of a multi-punch combination to the head at close quarters but Gomez was up at once, resuming his pressure as if the knockdown never happened.
The second frame saw Gomez cutting off the ring, forcing Khan to throw more punches in an attempt to stem the tide. As Gomez gained ground, he backed Khan onto the ropes and Amir let loose a blindingly fast flurry but the man born Michael Armstrong walked through it and unleashed a right hook, left hook combination to the head that made Khan go down on his knees from the force.
Khan was up almost at once, beating the count easily, and had to back-peddle furiously to avoid the lunging hooks of Gomez but soon again the furious Mancunian pinned Khan to the ropes and the pair traded bombs.
Returning to the center of the ring, Khan tried to once again pick off the oncoming Gomez but the combatants were still trading on even terms. Khan shoves Gomez away a few times when the shorter man gets in close.
Gomez is putting tremendous pressure on Khan, launching hard shots to both head and body while Khan tries desperately to catch his antagonist with well placed counters. It looks like Gomez has picked up a cut above his left eye.
Khan then hits the target and forces Gomez on the ropes and lands a few more but the veteran bobs and weaves his way out of trouble until he catches Khan and backs off the younger man.
All the efforts so far have tired both men and they try to gain a few moments of rest between wrestle. The action becomes sporadic with Gomez chasing a bit slower now as he and Khan hurling big shots at each other.
Khan is winning the brief exchanges and he staggers Gomez with a peach of a right hand but the Irish born "Predator" won't relent and he bangs Khan hard to the body in clinches.
Khan fights his way out but soon they are head to head again, trading body shots and the second round ends with Khan landing a few as Gomez closes the distance.
Gomez starts the third by pinning Khan on the ropes and each man tries to hold with one arm and bang away with the other until Khan breaks free. Gomez lunges with left hooks but can't find the range as Khan dances away from trouble.
Gomez is back to a lot of bobbing and weaving on the way in but is disrupted by a six punch salvo that finishes with a hard left that finds the target. But Gomez doesn't let his quarry rest and forces Khan back with a left hook aimed at the head and right that scores to the body.
After the pair each miss big haymakers upstairs, a weary looking Gomez clinches Khan until Amir throws him off and unleashes a torrent that mostly misses at the weaving Gomez. They're at loggerheads again and Gomez rams home a right uppercut but it's a hard left to the ribs that has Khan shaken and backing off before he grabs Gomez by the head and falls back into the ropes.
They exchange in the middle of the ring with both landing scoring blows but Khan throws more. Gomez is slowing down again and Khan responds by teeing off with both hands, shoving Gomez back when he gets close.
Khan is outworking Gomez and appears more comfortable with the slower, less active version of his rival until the former British Super Feather Champ again digs in a good left to the ribs that has Khan backing off and looking a bit more cautious about throwing punches.
As Gomez comes forward, Khan lets his hands go with a quality combination to both head and body before cracking the Commonwealth challenger with a full-blooded left uppercut. They both grab hold in the center of the ring until Khan shoves Gomez off.
Gomez begins to chase more earnestly and opens up his offense only to absorb a lot of punishment from his quick-handed fellow northerner. Gomez ratchets up the pressure in true Manchester style as the round ends but can't get much onto the fleet-footed Khan.
The fourth opens with a refreshed Gomez throwing himself at his opponent but Khan seems to have gained the timing of these rushes and is nimbly avoiding much of the danger while popping in shots to the head and body.
Khan tries to shove Gomez off but the hard as nails veteran won't be moved and he lands a series of left hooks to Khan's side and it looks to be taking a toll as Khan gets on his bike. He slows down just enough to trade on even terms with Gomez until he's again hit in the ribs with a left.
Khan responds by driving Gomez across the ring and into the ropes with what must be a 20 punch rapid-fire sequence, most of which land on the bewildered challenger. The referee takes a long look at Gomez as he breaks the two.
Khan shells up and gains a bit of rest as Gomez tries in vain to open up his target before Amir dances away to the other side of the ring. Khan is using the jab on the backfoot to try and keep Gomez at a distance but soon they clinch, evidently tired from the mostly torrid pace so far.
Gomez manages to get close and they trade big shots until Gomez thrown an uppercut that misses and then a left hook that doesn't to the ribs. Khan immediately clinches and seems to be hurt from the body shot as he pins Gomez to the ropes until broken by the referee.
Khan is on his toes, looking to keep Gomez at a distance until they get to close quarters again and trade upstairs and down until Gomez lands good left uppercut to the head before whipping in the same to Khan's side.
Khan is spurred onto action and erupts with both hands, some missing, some not. Gomez continues to come forward and snaps in a right uppercut that Khan takes well before the round ends in a clinch.
They start the fifth in the center of the ring and like the first round, Gomez chases Khan around the ring with the jab. Khan stops and gets in a couple good shots but gets it back from his adversary.
Khan lets Gomez in close and snaps off a good combination that ends with a vicious left to the body. Gomez backs off before sinking to the canvas on a knee, getting up at the last second and gaining a few moments by walking away from the referee.
When the action resumes, Khan walks up and batters Gomez with both hands before the challenger nails Khan with a left hook. Gomez goes forward and while he's landing a few body shots, he's also eating a lot of leather as well. He ties up Khan on the ropes and they're knotted for a bit before being broken by the referee.
The pair trade at center ring and Gomez looks wobbled by another digging left to the body but still he surges forth with gloves held high. Khan rips him from both sides to head and body including two hard rights to the head in quick succession before he once again shoves Gomez away.
Undeterred, Gomez lifts Khan's head high with a right uppercut as they stand shoulder to shoulder before digging in a left under Khan's elbow. As Khan cups Gomez's head with both gloves, the challenger bangs to the body with both hands before Khan just shoves him away.
Khan gives ground behind the jab while Gomez tries to find the target with his own jab and body shots until Khan ties him up in the corner. They both look tired again but after the clinch is broken, Khan rakes Gomez with both hands.
Gomez comes forward behind a couple of left hooks but his shots no longer are carrying their previous weight. Khan isn't troubled and skewers Gomez with three stiff jabs up top before missing a few uppercuts followed by another two-handed shove.
They trade good left hooks to the body before Gomez pops Khan with one upstairs and Khan misses with his replies. Gomez pressures again and they both miss a few jabs before Khan scores with a good combination.
Gomez looks gassed but he digs to the body again before getting knocked around by another Khan combo that snaps his head back and he backpedals to the center ring. Khan punishes Gomez with both hands, driving him back onto the ropes.
The Bolton lad continues to unload with all he has in an effort to end matters but while a few shots find their mark, Gomez either ducks or blocks the next salvo. Nevertheless, referee Keane decides he has seen enough and jumps in to call off the contest at 2:29 of the fifth.
Gomez actively protests the stoppage with Keane while Khan celebrates with new trainer Dean Powell.
Khan successfully retains his Commonwealth title for the first time and improves to 18-0 (14). Gomez falls short for the second time over his last three chances and his record now stands at 35-9 (24).
Also on the bill, Commonwealth Light Middleweight Champion Bradley Pryce, 27-6 (17), ended the challenge of Marcus Portman, 19-7-1 (3), in the sixth and Steve Bendall, 29-4 (13), took the English Middleweight title from previously undefeated Paul Smith, 23-1 (13), over ten rounds 96-94.