Pawel Wolak replaces Alfonso Gomez
When Alfonso Gomez's manager, Gary Gittelsohn, went to watch him work out a few days ago, Gomez had very little zip on his punches and pain in his left arm.
This was a worrisome development because Gomez was deep in his training camp getting ready to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a middleweight fight in the headliner of a Top Rank's "In Harm's Way" pay-per-view card (9 p.m., $44.95) on Dec. 4 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Gomez wound up going to the doctor for an MRI exam and on Tuesday the results came back. He had a torn ligament in his left elbow.
Up in smoke went the $100,000 payday as Gomez withdrew from the fight and was replaced by Pawel Wolak (27-1, 17 KOs) on Wednesday.
"I give Alfonso Gomez credit because he could have been like a lot of fighters getting a big payday and gone in there and gone two rounds and then said, 'Oh, my shoulder hurts,' and quit," Top Rank's Bob Arum said. "But Alfonso owned up. He was very honest about the situation. It's a credit to him. He's not in any condition to fight through no fault of his own. ... When he's ready to come back, he'll get a fight. Will it be against Chavez? Probably not, because you move on with Chavez. That's boxing."
Rafael's Boxing Blog
Get the latest scoop and analysis on the world of boxing from ESPN.com's Dan Rafael in his blog.
Wolak, 29, a native Pole living in Mount Arlington, N.J., had been tapped to fight Chavez in September before Mexico's Chavez (41-0-1, 30 KOs), the son of the all-time great with the same name, elected not to fight while he worked out some issues with co-promoter Fernando Beltran.
An aggressive, pressure fighter, Wolak is riding a two-year, six-bout winning streak, with three of those victories coming by knockout, although he went the 10-round distance in a hard-fought battle with James Moore in his last fight, which was on the Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman undercard at Yankee Stadium in June.
"Wolak was scheduled to fight [Dec. 16] in New York on the Dmitriy Salita-Mike Anchondo undercard, so he's been in the gym and will be in shape," Top Rank's Carl Moretti said. "It was a fight we had put together in September, so it's not like the fight is a stretch. The best thing is that he was training for another fight, so he should be ready."
In the co-feature, former flyweight titlist and interim junior bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire (24-1, 16 KOs) of the Philippines moves up to bantamweight to face former titlist Wladimir Sidorenko (22-2-2, 7 KOs) of Ukraine. Donaire needs to win in order to preserve a Feb. 19 shot on HBO against unified titleholder Fernando Montiel.
Also on pay-per-view: lightweight titlist Humberto Soto (53-7-2, 32 KOs) of Mexico defends his belt against Urbano Antillon (28-1, 20 KOs) of Maywood, Calif., and featherweight contender Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., opens the show against Olivier Lontchi (18-1-2, 8 KOs) of Montreal.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.