- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Two-time world title challenger Alfonso Gomez, suffering from severe back spasms, has withdrawn from his May 5 fight against welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas, manager Gary Gittelsohn told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
The scheduled 10-round bout was supposed to be on the HBO PPV card headlined by Miguel Cotto's junior middleweight title defense against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"Alfonso developed some serious back spasms (last week) and at first I thought he would just take a day off and rest. So we canceled sparring one day. But then we had to cancel a second day of sparring," Gittelsohn said. "And he never got much better."
Gittelsohn said he called Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez (no relation to Alfonso) to give him a heads up on the situation on Friday.
"But we gave Alfonso the weekend off to see if he'd feel any better," Gittelsohn said. "The orthopedist said he didn't think Alfonso was in any condition to do any running or strenuous activity. So that put him out of commission in critical moments of his training. So we canceled officially (Monday night) and I alerted Eric, who was disappointed as we all were. But these things happen. I'm so bummed."
Gomez (23-5-2, 12 KOs), a former star of "The Contender" reality series, twice challenged for world titles. He was stopped in five rounds by then-welterweight titlist Cotto, a fight that came two bouts after Gomez knocked out the late Arturo Gatti and sent him into retirement.
In September, Gomez, 31, a native of Mexico living in Southern California, challenged junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and was stopped in the sixth round of a competitive fight.
Vargas (18-0, 9 KOs), 22, of Las Vegas, was put on the card because he is one of Mayweather's fighters and Gomez figured to be a big step up in his competition level.
"I really felt like this was the perfect resurrection opportunity for Alfonso (coming off the loss to Alvarez) on the biggest showcase of the year," Gittelsohn said. "We're taking it day by day. I told Eric that I really want this fight for Alfonso and we hope it can be rescheduled down the line."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that the company was working on finding a replacement to face Vargas next week.
"We were informed (Monday) night about this and we're looking at some replacements," Schaefer said. "I'm confident that Eric and Team Vargas will find a suitable replacement."
Also on the pay-per-view, Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs) defends his 154-pound belt against former champ Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs) and junior middleweight Deandre Latimore (23-3, 17 KOs) meets former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana (28-3, 22 KOs).