Brandon Gonzales faces a tall order in Thomas Oosthuizen—six feet, four inches to be exact.
“He’ll have about four inches on me, but he hasn’t been in there with someone versatile enough to neutralize his strengths,” Gonzales said before Saturday’s pivotal super middleweight clash (HBO, 9:45 p.m.).
A top-10 ranking in the division is on the line, and Gonzales (17-0, 10 KOs) has honed his craft in Hayward with trainer Virgil Hunter to prepare for his angular opponent from South Africa who has earned the moniker “Tommy Gun” for his aggression and volume punching.
“He’s pretty busy with his punch output,” said Gonzales, a boxer-puncher who originally hails from Sacramento. “But while he’s consistent, he doesn’t have much pop, and we see a few things we can capitalize on. We want to see what happens to his gameplan when he starts getting hit.”
The current king of the 168-pounders is Oakland’s Andre Ward, and Gonzales certainly has acquainted himself with “S.O.G.” Not only has Gonzales been Ward’s top sparring partner for his past few camps, the protégé has also aligned himself with the same team—Hunter, manager James Prince, and co-promoters Dan Goossen and Antonio Leonard.
“This is his time now,” Hunter said. “Brandon’s not getting any younger, and he’s been putting in the work to get ready for this fight and show he’s capable of fighting on that championship level.”
Though on paper it’s just one fight, Gonzales might be staring down the barrel of a do-or-die situation.
Two years have passed since CSNBayArea.com named the Sacramento native NorCal Prospect of the Year. Since that period, Gonzales has turned 29 and languished in limbo. He tore his groin last year, and upon his return, had to glue his eyelid shut after a freak sparring accident just to salvage another fight from falling through.
Now having fully recovered after mixed results in his past two bouts, Gonzales has ascended from fighting on ESPN2 for five figures per fight to the biggest payday of his career on HBO. Nicknamed “Flawless” for his unbeaten record and multifaceted repertoire, he plans to take full advantage of the opportunity.
“I treat every fight like it’s my last,” Gonzales said. “I’m in the prime of my career. The plan is to go in there, win the fight, and look good doing it.”
GOOSSEN DEFEATS WARD IN ARBITRATION
Super middleweight world champion Andre Ward was unsuccessful in his bid to break away from longtime promoter Dan Goossen, as the California commission ruled to uphold their current contract. For more on the story, check out the link below on our Fight Sports page.
[RELATED: Goossen comments on winning dispute]
DONAIRE ZEROES IN ON NEXT FOE
Former junior featherweight world champion Nonito Donaire of San Leandro will make his return to the ring in late October or early November against one of three opponents.
Donaire’s team, which includes promoter Top Rank and manager Cameron Dunkin, have focused their attention on a trio of southpaws—Guillermo Rigondeaux, Vic Darchinyan, and Orlando Cruz.
“Right now we’re waiting to hear from [Top Rank vice president] Carl [Moretti] to go over all the offers and what type of money is being offered,” Dunkin said.
Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs), who has mulling over a move from the 122-pound junior featherweight limit to the full-fledged 126-pound featherweight division, has expressed his desire to regain his world title from Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs), a slick Cuban who defeated him on points in April.
“There are a few fights out there, but I want a rematch with Rigondeaux if it can be made before I move to featherweight,” Donaire told CSNBayArea.com.
Darchinyan (39-5-1, 28 KOs) has won titles in two different weight classes, but lost his flyweight belt to Donaire in 2007 via devastating fifth-round knockout. As of late, the power-punching Armenian-Australian has enjoyed a career resurgence, riding a two-bout winning streak since moving up to 122 pounds.
The only true featherweight on the list is Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs), a Puerto Rican and former Olympian who made waves in the sporting world last October when he announced that he was gay. But Cruz recently announced he would pursue a fight with Mexican Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO 126-pound belt in the late summer or early fall.
“I want to be true to myself,” Cruz said. “I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career…I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”
Donaire’s wife Rachel is expected to give birth to their first child in late July, a baby boy they plan to name Jarel. Like Ward, his childhood friend from the amateurs, Donaire is also recovering from recent surgery to repair a bone spur and torn ligaments in his right shoulder.
‘DRACULA’ LEADS REGION 11 CHARGE INTO JR. OLYMPIC FINALS
Ruben “Dracula” Villa looks to take one last bite out of the field in Saturday’s 119-pound final at the National Junior Olympics in Mobile, Ala. The defending champion from Salinas faces Las Vegas native Devin Haney and is one of four Region 11 (NorCal and Central Cal) amateurs to reach the gold medal round.
Last year’s 110-pound champion, Fresno’s Isidro Ochoa, has moved up to 125 pounds and will encounter Ohio’s Michael Nelson in his final. Sanger’s Derek Ochoa clashes with New Mexico’s Aaron Perez at 106 pounds, and Bakersfield’s Odalys Camacho meets Kristy Rodriguez of Illinois for the female 114-pound crown.
A sextet of locals fell in the semifinals and will receive bronze medals: South San Francisco’s Charlie Sheehy (132 pounds), Daly City’s Suray Mahmutovic (165 pounds), Sacramento’s Angel Rios (165 pounds), Napa’s Brandon Trejo (138 pounds), Sacramento’s Amisael Jimenez (154 pounds), and Antioch’s Katrina Nahe (female 119 pounds), who represented the USF Boxing Club.
As a result of the guaranteed 10 medals, Region 11 is currently tied for first place in the team standings.