BOXING: A ONE-TIME stablemate of Runcorn's Robin Reid is making a first defence of his world title in Widnes this Saturday.
Michael Gomez, once handled by Reid's trainer, Brian Hughes, puts his WBU world super-featherweight championship on the line at the Kingsway Sports Centre in Widnes.
Gomez was scheduled to face Bouziane Oudji, but the Frenchman withdrew due to injury, leaving the Mancunian a much tougher assignment.
He will be up against former Commonwealth Champion Justin Juuko.
Originally from Uganda, but now based in Las Vegas, Juuko has defeated a number of top domestic names, including Charles Shepherd and Gary Thornhill.
Gomez said: 'Juuko is a dangerous fighter and is one of the roughest and toughest out there.
'He did a number on Thornhill and Shephard over here, but he won't be doing the same to me.'
He continued: 'This is a make-or-break fight for Juuko. He knows that if he gets beaten, he's finished and if he beats me then he can go on to another big fight.'
'That's why I believe he will be the most dangerous he's ever been against me. This time I will show that I can be a smart fighter and not just a brave one.
'I have work hard on improving my jab, head movement and footwork and people will see a new Michael Gomez.'
Gomez, currently ranked number five in the WBO and WBA, is chasing a showdown with WBO world super-featherweight champ David Corrales and will be looking to make a firm statement by stopping Juuko.
'Corrales stopped Juuko in the tenth round. I will be looking to stop him earlier than that.
'Corrales is the one I want and I aim to get to the mandatory challenger position so he has to face me.'
Gomez finally claimed the WBU title last month with a third-round stoppage of Ben Odumattey at the MEN Arena.
He previously challenged for the title in June 2002 against Londoner Kevin Lear, but a below-par Gomez retired on his stool.
A switch of trainers from Hughes to Billy Graham has seen Gomez go on to five stoppage wins, including a victory over Edinburgh's Alex Arthur to reclaim the British title.
Gomez is now setting his sights on the big names of the 130lb division.
'I am back to where I should have been two years ago,' he said.
'The loss to Lear really drove home the importance of my career to me and I have really knuckled down to serious training.
'The Arthur fight was a real crossroads fight for me and I came through it victorious when a lot of people didn't give me a chance.
'I've proved that I'm the best in Britain and after this fight I'm looking to face the best in the world.'
The Kingsway undercard features Preston welterweight Michael Jennings, Pontypool light-welterweight Tony Doherty and Liverpool trio Derry Mathews, Mark Moran and Tony Quigley.
Tickets, priced £25 and £60, are available from the Seatem Box Office on 0870 906 3839 or Kingsway Sports Centre on 0151 495 2200.