Joet Gonzalez faces stern test in Rafael Rivera on ESPN, targets Gervonta Davis
One of Golden Boy’s top prospects, unbeaten featherweight Joet Gonzalez, will step up in class on Friday when he takes on once-beaten veteran Rafael Rivera in a scheduled 10-round main event that will air live on ESPN from The Novo at LA Live in Los Angeles.
The 24-year-old Glendora, California native has stopped his last five opponents, but understands this is the opportunity he has longed for since first stepping foot in a boxing gym.
“This is my first big TV fight,” Gonzalez said by phone as he wrapped up his training camp. “I want to thank Golden Boy and my manager Frank Espinoza for the opportunity. I’ve been a pro since 2012 and finally I am a headliner on television and it’s in L.A. where all my people will be there.”
Rivera (25-1-2, 16 KOs) suffered his lone defeat at the hands of Joseph Diaz, Jr. on the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin undercard last year.
“I’m taking Rafael Rivera very seriously,” Gonzalez said. “He took the Joseph Diaz on two or three days’ notice, so he had to change up his game plan. Now with me he has had time to prepare so I am expecting a very tough fight from him. We have a few game plans for him so if the first one doesn’t work we have a back up plan and then another back up plan.”
Gonzalez has stopped focusing on knockouts and now works hard to improve on his skills as he looks to improve the level of his competition.
“I am more patient then ever before and I am very focused,” Gonzalez says. “On July 4 I was in the gym and I could smell the barbecue from outside but like I said I am very focused to show the world who Joet Gonzalez is.”
Up for grabs is a vacant NABO featherweight title but Gonzalez believes he will be ready to challenge for world title in 2019 should he continue to impress. To help him prepare for tougher opponents, Gonzalez took the opportunity to spar with Leo Santa Cruz and Oscar Valdez for over 50 rounds.
“I want everyone to know I am here to fight the best no matter who it is,” he said.
Although he intends to continue fighting at 126 pounds for now Gonzalez is paying close attention to the WBA super featherweight (130-pound) beltholder Gervonta Davis whom Gonzalez defeated twice in the amateurs.
“I beat him easily in the amateurs and now he’s a world champion,” Gonzalez said. “I think the guys he fights are just scared of him. I am not scared of anyone.”
Gonzalez remembers first defeating Davis when the two met in the junior Olympics when Gonzalez was 16 years old. Gonzalez then went on to stop Davis in the third round when they met a few years later at the U.S. nationals before both fighters turned pro.
“I would love a chance to fight him as a pro for a world title,” Gonzalez said. “It would be a great fight. A lot of the current world champions know me form the amateurs and know what I can do.”
Gonzalez recalls watching the Oscar De La Hoya-Fernando Vargas fight with his father and now pinches himself to believe that he is being promoted by the Golden Boy himself.
“I can’t say enough what Golden Boy has done for me and the way they treat not only me but my family too,” Gonzalez said proudly.
Gonzalez claims watching De La Hoya’s commanding victory over Vargas in 2002 is the reason he chose to try to make a living in boxing.