- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Frankie Gomez, perhaps the most sought-after amateur in the United States, signed a multi-year promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions on Wednesday, company president Oscar De La Hoya told ESPN.com.
Gomez, 18, was a 2009 U.S. national champion at 141 pounds, defeating highly touted Top Rank prospect Jose Benavidez 11-9 in the final. Gomez also received a silver medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Milan, Italy, in September. He lost an 8-2 decision to Cuba's Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo in the gold medal match, but was the only American to reach the finals, quite an accomplishment considering it was Gomez's first open tournament.
Other than being a top amateur like De La Hoya was, Gomez is also from East Los Angeles. He also shares the same birthday -- Feb. 4 -- with his new promoter.
"It's really exciting that we signed him. Now I have to break it to my wife that we will be spending birthdays with him," joked De La Hoya, who won his Olympic gold medal the year Gomez was born.
The 5-foot-8 Gomez is scheduled to make his professional debut on April 3 on the undercard of the Roy Jones-Bernard Hopkins rematch at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. After that, De La Hoya said Gomez would fight roughly once per month with regular appearances on Golden Boy's "Fight Night Club" series at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles.
"I believe a perfect fit for him will be the 'Fight Night Club' shows," De La Hoya said of the series, which begins its 2010 schedule on Thursday night. "We're there once a month and we can also have him fight on whatever other big shows we have. But we want to build him up in Los Angeles."
De La Hoya said he was impressed watching videos of Gomez and when he watched him spar recently.
"I saw him spar about three weeks ago and I haven't seen something like that in a long, long time," De La Hoya said. "This kid was in control. This kid just has it. You can feel it in the air. He has that explosiveness, that ring generalship. I haven't seen it in a long time. I am very happy we signed him.
"He sparred 12 rounds with three different pros, not anybody known, but he just impressed me. It reminded me of myself. I used to spar pros all the time. That's how I made the transition from amateurs to the pros. He is so strong and fast."
Although Gomez fought at 141 pounds in the amateur ranks, just one pound over the professional junior welterweight limit, he may fight in the 135-pound lightweight division as a professional.
"He said he can make 135, so what we discussed was if he can make 135 with no problem, why not shoot for a title at 135 when the time is right and then go up to 140 and 147," De La Hoya said.
Terms of Gomez's deal were not disclosed, but he received a six-figure signing bonus.
"He is the No. 1 amateur in the U.S. and one of the best in the world and as such, he deserved a package in line with what his credentials are," Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. "Golden Boy is the leading promoter and when we see talent, we have the financial resources to pay for it and we do. He's a very, very talented fighter and I think there are tremendous opportunities for Frankie to make a name for himself as a pro."
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.
13hEthan Sherwood Strauss