Jonathan Gonzalez outpoints Shokichi Iwata, retains WBO junior flyweight title
Junior flyweight titleholder Jonathan Gonzalez used all of his experience and ring savvy to turn back the challenge of Japanese up-and-comer Shokichi Iwata on Tuesday in Saitama, Japan.
The 31-year-old Puerto Rican retained his WBO 108-pound belt with a unanimous decision, winning by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 (twice). Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 KOs) was The Ring’s No. 2-rated junior flyweight going into the fight.
It was a competitive and, at times, rough clash of styles for the first half of the bout. Gonzalez, a southpaw, troubled Iwata with his lateral movement, while the 26-year-old challenger’s greater size and physical style presented problems for the titleholder.
Iwata (9-1, 6 KOs) appeared to be imposing himself on Gonzalez by the fourth round; the veteran was bullied about the ring as he complained of elbows and low blows. However, Gonzalez stood his ground in Rounds 5 and 6, even pressuring Iwata onto his back foot at times. Iwata, The Ring’s No. 10-rated junior flyweight going in, landed well to Gonzalez’s body during their exchanges, however he had trouble cutting off the ring when the southpaw boxed from a distance.
Gonzalez switched back to his stick-and-move tactics down the stretch of the fight, rendering Iwata’s aggression ineffective. Iwata was game to the final bell, but he lacked a jab, head/upper-body movement and ring-cutting ability.