Jonathan Gonzalez withdraws from title defense against Gerardo Zapata
Jonathan Gonzalez will have to wait for another date to defend his WBO world junior flyweight title belt. Again.
Gonzalez is withdrawing from Friday’s clash against Gerardo Zapata, promoter Tuto Zabala, Jr. told The Ring on Wednesday night.
The 12-round bout was to take place at the Alexis Arguello Sports Complex in Zapata’s hometown of Managua, Nicaragua, but “Jonathan currently has a cough and a fever,” Zavala told The Ring. “We don’t know if it’s a cold or if it’s COVID. The doctors are running tests on him and we will find out.”
According to Zavala, the co-main event will now become the main event. Rene Santiago will face Kevin Vivas for the interim WBO junior flyweight belt (ESPN+ in the United States and ESPN Knockout in Latin America, 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
“The winner of the fight between Santiago and Vivas will have to face Gonzalez within 180 days,” said Zavala. “If Gonzalez chooses not to fight the winner, then the winner of the Santiago-Vivas fight will become the full titleholder at 108 pounds for the WBO.”
This is not the first time Gonzalez, currently rated at No. 1 by The Ring at 108 pounds, had to withdraw from a fight. Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 knockouts), who resides in Caguas, Puerto Rico, was originally scheduled to defend his world title belt against Kenshiro Teraji on April 8, but Gonzalez had to withdraw from the fight after coming down with a case of pneumonia.
Gonzalez was originally scheduled to fight Leyman Benavides, but Zapata took the fight after Benavides backed out. Zapata (14-1-1, 5 KOs) was taking a major step up in opposition against Gonzalez, despite going undefeated since losing his pro debut.
The 32-year-old Gonzalez last fought on November 1 of last year, defeating previously-unbeaten Shokichi Iwata by unanimous decision.
Santiago (11-3, 8 KOs) of Puerto Rico and Vivas (7-0, 2 KOs), who resides in Nicaragua, are both ranked in the top 15 by the WBO, which would allow for both to fight for the interim world title belt.
Also on the card, unbeaten welterweight Harvin Aguirre (8-0, 6 KOs), who is originally from Managua and now resides in Panama City, Panama, will face Israel Lopez (11-3-1, 8 KOs) in an eight-round bout. Lopez also resides in Managua.
In the opening bout of the stream, junior flyweight Gerardo Sanchez (8-1, 5 KOs) of Tegucigalpa, Honduras will square off against Eduardo Alito (11-0, 5 KOs) in an eight-round bout.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]