Boxing

Ex-world champion boxer hospitalized

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)

Former Puerto Rican world champion boxer Wilfredo Gomez is in critical condition in a hospital following respiratory failure, a family spokesman said Wednesday.

Erick Rodriguez told The Associated Press that the 56-year-old Gomez, widely considered to be the best Puerto Rican fighter in history, is struggling to recover from a lung infection.

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''The next 72 hours are going to be crucial,'' Rodriguez said. ''He's in danger of contracting pneumonia.''

Gomez's sister-in-law, Nydia Hernandez, said the former boxer is under sedation in an intensive care unit and is breathing with the assistance of a tube.

Rodriguez said Gomez was in the San Juan hospital last weekend before being released after an improvement in his health, but he was hospitalized again Tuesday.

Friends and family stopped by the hospital to visit Gomez on Wednesday, including former boxer Victor ''Luvi'' Callejas.

Gomez was a three-time world champion with the WBA and WBC at super bantamweight, featherweight and junior lightweight. He retired for good in 1989 with a 44-3-1 record and 42 knockouts.

Nicknamed ''Bazooka,'' Gomez had a reputation for taking out opponents quickly, averaging less than four rounds a fight.

He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995, becoming only the fifth fighter to be elected in his first year of eligibility.

After retiring, Gomez lived mostly in South Florida but frequently visited Puerto Rico, where he had several run-ins with the law, including being charged with cocaine possession and domestic violence. He moved to Puerto Rico last year.

Four months ago, Puerto Rican boxer Hector ''Macho'' Camacho died after being shot while sitting in a car in the northern city of Bayamon.

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