Derrik Holmes underwent surgery today at Valley Hospital to repair a broken jaw suffered Friday night in a nationally televised championship fight.
Holmes was down eight times, once without being hit, five times in the fourth round, before his manager, Gil Ware, tossed in a towel and referee Joey Curtis stopped the bout.
Holmes' mother Charlene and Denise Harley, his fiance, were at the hospital while the boxer was being examined.
Mrs. Holmes said her son told her that he knew he suffered the broken jaw in the second round, from an overhand right to the chin by Gomez, because it hurt so much.
"He kept going," Mrs. Holmes said, "because he felt so sure he could finish off Gomez."
Holmes had staggered Gomez with a short right to the jaw earlier in that second round.
"He said the pain was so bad that every move he made after that even sent the pain down through his legs. He knew he had to get the bout over fast," Mrs. Holmes went on.
"He kept going down in hopes, in one sense, that the bout would be stopped, but he kept getting up because he didn't want to quit."
Mrs. Holmes quoted the surgeon as saying the boxer's jaw would heal just about perfectly in six months.
Holmes had only 15 professional bouts prior to Friday, winning 14, 10 by knockouts, and drawing in one. Unbeaten Gomez, of Puerto Rico, was a veteran of 30 previous pro bouts, including a draw, and his knockout over Holmes was his 30th straight.
Holmes was examined between the fourth and fifth rounds by Dr. Donald Romeo of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but was permitted to continue.
Referee Curtis justified letting the bout go on until the towel was tossed in the ring by noting that there was no regulation in effect automatically ending the bout after three knockdowns in one round.
"I made sure he knew where he was every time he got up," Curtis said, "by asking him where he was, and he would say 'Las Vegas.'"
But Holmes was in obvious distress, slipping to the canvas four times in addition to the knockdown. He sagged down from the delayed effect of a series of punches in the fifth round and was cleanly knocked down after that.
He appeared to slip down in the second round after being hit, but there was no count. However, there had been a punch, a right to the chin, which was believed to have fractured his jaw.
Holmes appeared for a group interview before being taken to a hospital. The NBC network, at the suggestion of Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, director of boxing and analyst at the microphone, had hired an ambulance for $150 to stand by in case of just such an emergency.
Pacheco, who once worked the corner of Muhammad Ali and nine other champions, convinced NBC that many serious injuries could be prevented from developing into something worse by quick diagnosis, emergency treatment and a quick trip to a hospital.
Brent Molovinsky of Rockville, Md., business manager for Holmes, said he owns the boxer's contract with his brother Gene Molovinsky and Holmes' manager of record Ware, of Washington.
Molovinsky said Holmes' purse was $40,000 and that he will receive about $20,000 after repaying previous loans and a management fee of 33 1/3 percent.
Roy F. Tennison, executive director of the Nevada commission, was asked today if he had any regrets about a three-knockdown rule not being enforced. He said, "Personally, yes, we are going to take up making it mandatory at the next WBC convention. it was in our Nevada rules but was waived for this right. It will be in our new rulebook permanently."
Tennison was asked if Romeo had any regrets about permitting Holmes to continue after being knocked down five times in the fourth round. Tennison said, "No, because he checked Holmes' eyes, they were clear and he was lucid. Holmes did not complain to him about his jaw. Romeo found out about the broken jaw when he checked Holmes after the bout and sent him to the hospital."