Rising prospect Joet Gonzalez in dangerous fight with ‘nothing to lose’ Manuel Avila
Featherweight contender Joet Gonzalez may be soft-spoken outside the ring, but his fists speak a different story inside of it. And even if Gonzalez were to engage in smack talk with another fighter, Gonzalez will be the fighter to likely back up everything he says.
Gonzalez will face Manuel ‘Tino’ Avila Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly known as the StubHub Center) in Carson, California. The 10-round fight will precede the WBC junior featherweight title bout between titleholder Rey Vargas and mandatory challenger Tomoki Kameda.
Both fights will stream live on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
The 25-year-old Gonzalez, who resides in the Los Angeles area, has built an impressive record defeating modest to above-average opposition. His most impressive victory to date occurred in his last bout on Mar. 30 in Indio, California when he dropped former world junior bantamweight titleholder Rodrigo Guerrero multiple times before the fight was stopped in round five.
Gonzalez (22-0, 13 knockouts), who has stopped seven of his last eight opponents, admitted he took his anger and frustration out on Guerrero.
“I was frustrated because I was the second fight on the card, after the Antonio Orozco fight,” Gonzalez told The Ring Wednesday afternoon. “I didn’t feel like I deserved that. A fighter with 21 bouts. So I just broke Guerrero down in each fight and my goal was to take him out and I did.”
Gonzalez will face a significant step-up in opposition in Avila (23-1-1, 8 KOs), who resides in the Northern California city of Fairfield. In his last bout on Mar. 21, the 27-year-old Avila fought to a split-decision draw against Jose Santos Gonzalez.
Even though Avila has faced the better opposition, including fights against Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz and Rene Alvarado, Gonzalez is favored to win. Still, he believes Avila has nothing to lose, which makes Saturday’s fight dangerous.
“(Avila) is hungry to get back in the mix,” said Gonzalez, whose younger Jousce (8-0-1, 8 KOs) will face Jorge Hugo Padron (3-3, 3 KOs) in preliminary action on Saturday. “I’m not looking past him. He’s going to be dangerous and come out and win. He’s motivated me to push harder during training camp to come out on top.”
Gonzalez has shown more power and aggression in recent fights, having stopped seven of his last eight opponents.
As his opposition has gotten better and the fights become more challenging, some wonder whether Gonzalez can still display power, especially against the likes of Avila. Gonzalez believes he has become a well-rounded fighter in recent fights, whether he outboxes or knocks out his opposition.
“I want to show I can do a little bit of everything,” said Avila. “I’m smart and lately I’ve been more patient in building my attack. I think I’m more mature and I’m building more my man-body. I’m hurting and stopping the fighters they put in front of me. I’ve showed I can box, but I can punch and finish my opposition.”
Gonzalez is ranked No. 2 by the WBO and No. 9 by the WBC. Gonzalez could fight another opponent to solidify his ranking, but he believes he is more than ready to fight for a world title belt right now.
“I’ve spoken with Golden Boy Promotions and (manager) Frank Espinoza. We all agree we are ready for a world title shot. I’m ranked by two sanctioning bodies. I want to come out and win impressively on Saturday and come back to the ring in September. That title fight is a must for me.”
A statement win over Avila, who is ranked No. 13 by the WBO, could make that a reality, but that depends if the sanctioning bodies would compel their titleholders to face Gonzalez. The WBO title is held by Oscar Valdez, with the mandatory challenger being Shakur Stevenson, both of who are promoted by Top Rank.
Gary Russell, Jr. is the WBC titleholder and rarely fights more than once a year, and there has been jostling on his part whether he would get in the ring to face WBA titleholder Leo Santa Cruz in a unification fight.
Gonzalez is in a better place now compared to several months ago when he was a young fighter on the outside looking in. He believes his time is nearing and will make the most of the opportunity.
“When I look back two, three years ago, I was doubted, but I’ve come out on top. I’ve dominated fights where I was expected to lose, even in the amateurs. These top fighters don’t want what they know is coming. They call out others, but don’t call me out because they know what I’m about.”
“I’ve put in the hard work and I know it will pay off in the end.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing