Will the fourth time be the charm for Israel Gonzalez? It won’t easy.
The 115-pound contender is set to challenge one of the hottest young champions in the world – Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez – on the Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin pay-per-view card Saturday in Las Vegas.
Gonzalez (28-4-1, 11 KOs) has failed in three previous attempts to wrest a belt from a world titleholder.
“I’m thankful for the opportunities,” he said through a translator. “And I’m a bit more hungry than the three previous times. … I now have a son at home waiting for me to bring home the world title.”
Gonzalez built a reputation as an excellent, rugged boxer in his native Mexico to climb up the rankings and earn a title shot against then-IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas in 2018 in Corpus Christi, Texas, his first fight in the U.S.
Things didn’t go well for him. He went down in the opening round, lost the first nine rounds and was stopped in 10.
He bounced back to win his next two fights, which landed him a shot at Khalid Yafai’s WBA belt later the same year in Monte Carlo. This time Gonzalez performed well but lost a decision, which was met with derision from those who thought the Mexican deserved to win.
Once again he won his next two fights, which led to one more opportunity to fight for a world championship in 2020 in Mexico City. This time it was against the great Roman Gonzalez, who won a wide decision to retain the WBA title he took from Yafai.
Israel Gonzalez, 3-0-1 since that fight, said he wasn’t at his best against Chocolatito. He said he had only a little more than a month to drop weight and prepare for the future Hall of Famer after a 10-month layoff.
“I came into that fight from nothing,” he said. “I also had to drop (24 pounds), if you remember. It’s different now. I’m an active fighter. I fought in January, I fought in April. It’s different this time.”
It had better be given the success of Rodriguez, who outpointed Carlos Cuadras to win the WBC title and then knocked out Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in his first defense to become a Fighter of the Year candidate.
Gonzalez called Rodriguez a “great champion” out of respect but certainly doesn’t fear him. He likes his chances on Saturday.
“I think Cuadras got frustrated when he was outboxed,” Gonzalez said. “I can box as well, move around the ring. You’ll see that. And Rungvisai (35)? My youth will make a difference. I’m 25, Bam is 22. See the difference?
“I’ve fought the best in the division. … You’ll see a (big) change on Saturday.”
If he’s successful?
“First, it will finally close a chapter and I will realize the dream,” he said. “That’s a dream everyone has when they go into boxing, to become a world champion. Second, it will be fantastic for myself and my family.
“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for a long period of time. Saturday, God willing, I’ll be able to show who is the real Israel Gonzalez.”
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