Printer Friendly

EAGER GONZALEZ SETS FOCUS ON JONES.

Byline: MICHAEL ROSENTHAL Boxing

Most of us see Julio Gonzalez as the guy who was handpicked to be pummeled by light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. on July 28 at Staples Center.

Gonzalez sees himself as a Buster Douglas, a tough, talented fighter who no one believed could beat Mike Tyson and then made his name and fortune when he pulled it off.

``Upsets happen,'' Gonzalez said after the bout was announced last week. ``Why can't it happen on the 28th?''

Gonzalez, a 24-year-old Mexican native who has lived in Huntington Beach most of his life, said he's excited about the opportunity to fight for a world championship - perhaps too excited.

And no wonder. Gonzalez is hardly a club fighter - he's unbeaten (27-0, with 17 knockouts) and is a top-10 contender in two sanctioning organizations - but has never been in the spotlight as he is now.

He's fought primarily in small Southern California venues. His biggest bout took place in February in Columbus, Ohio, when he outpointed previously unbeaten Mike Tyson-lookalike Julian Letterlough in a thrilling bout in which the fighters went down a combined five times.

Gonzalez said his first order of business is to calm down and focus on boxing.

``I have to get the feeling that this is just another fight,'' he said. ``... I've got the chance to fight for a world championship. It just happens to be against one of the greatest fighters ever. I have to concentrate hard on training, very hard.''

Gonzalez, known as a hard worker, is an impressive physical specimen. He's 6-foot-2 - a good three inches taller than Jones - and a chiseled 175 pounds. He's also well-schooled. His trainer, Mack Kurihara, is respected and experienced. He's been a fixture on the L.A.-area boxing scene for many years.

And if there were any doubts about his courage and determination, they were dispelled in the Letterlough fight. Gonzalez went down three times only to easily outpoint his hard-punching opponent and receive a standing ovation from the crowd.

However, he - along with everyone else in the division - lacks what it takes to compete with Jones: exceptional speed. Logic says that Gonzalez won't be able to see Jones' punches, let alone evade them.

Gonzalez isn't worried, at least not openly.

``We'll figure something out,'' he said. ``His speed is tremendous. We'll figure out a way to deal with it. ...

``We'll come out with the perfect plan, execute it to perfection.''

Even if he does, it probably won't be enough against a fighter of Jones' unusual ability. Realistically, the best we can hope for is a somewhat competitive fight.

Gonzalez's manager, Norm Kaplan, upset over the suggestion his fighter has no chance, insists the boxing world will be surprised.

``This isn't just an event,'' he said. ``This is going to be a fight.''

--Family affair: Gonzalez, whose parents recently moved back to Mexico, has a close-knit family. Sometimes too close.

In a fight at the Forum years ago, he was knocked down. Apparently, that was more than his mother could take. Moments after he hit the canvas, she ran to his corner and yelled in Spanish to his handlers: ``That's it! That's it! Stop the fight!''

Kaplan, who speaks Spanish, said: ``Ma'am, please sit down. Don't break your son's concentration or Julio won't allow you to come to fights.''

She agreed, but that wasn't the end of it. When Gonzalez went down again in a subsequent fight, one of his four brothers ran to the ring in desperation and also demanded that the fight be stopped.

Was Gonzalez embarrassed?

``Yeah, at first I was,'' he said. ``Now I think it's kind of funny. We all do care about each other.''

--Turning point: The night heavyweight champ Hasim Rahman was knocked out by Oleg Maskaev in November 1999 was the worst night of his career. It also led to his knockout victory over Lennox Lewis.

Rahman had fallen into the trap Lewis was caught in: He took victory for granted. He trained sparingly and lacked focus, assuming Maskaev had neither the ability nor the punch to beat him.

And he paid the price. He was knocked out and through the ring in the eighth round.

``I was humiliated,'' Rahman said last week. ``I lost. And, on top of that, it was my birthday. It couldn't get any worse for me. It made me a dedicated fighter, though. I said from then on I wouldn't underestimate any fighter because this man shouldn't have beaten me.

``It was the best thing that could've happened to me.''

--Vargas-Flores? A bout between Fernando Vargas and Shibata Flores is an interesting prospect: Vargas has managed Flores and is a close friend.

As it stands, Flores is ranked No. 1 among junior middleweights by the WBA while Vargas is No. 2. If Felix Trinidad beats William Joppy on May 12 and then vacates the WBA title, Flores and Vargas could fight for the belt.

``It's business,'' said Vargas, who faces Wilfredo Rivera on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. ``You do what you have to do.''

The two have even sparred.

``Not anymore, though,'' Vargas said.

Vargas also will pursue Oscar De La Hoya, assuming De La Hoya takes Francisco Castillejo's WBC junior middleweight title on June 23 in Las Vegas.

--Casamayor-Freitas? Joel Casamayor and Acelino Freitas, undefeated junior lightweights headed for a showdown before the end of the year, fight on the same card Saturday in Mississippi on Showtime.

Casamayor defends his WBA title against Edwin Santana, and Freitas faces Lazlo Bognar for Freitas' marginal WBO belt.

--Coming up: Thomas Tate faces Fernando Zuniga in a 12-round super middleweight bout on Friday in Uncasville, Conn., on ESPN2.

DAILY NEWS TOP 10 POUND-FOR-POUND

1. Roy Jones Jr. - It's about best fighter, not best resume.

2. Felix Trinidad - Most feared puncher pound-for-pound.

3. Shane Mosley - Find a weakness.

4. Floyd Mayweather - See Mosley.

5. Marco Antonio Barrera - Victory over Hamed was brilliant.

6. Oscar De La Hoya - Skills remain; does heart?

7. Ricardo Lopez - If only he were bigger.

8. Erik Morales - A rematch with Barrera looms.

9. Bernard Hopkins - Waiting for Trinidad.

10. Zab Judah - Defining fights are in his future.

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

(color) Julio Gonzalez, left, will face light heavyweight champ Roy Jones Jr. on July 28 at Staples Center.

Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer

Box: DAILY NEWS TOP 10 POUND-FOR-POUND (see text)
COPYRIGHT 2001 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 30, 2001
Words:1063
Previous Article:KINGS THE KEY: `UNUSUAL' GOALS PUT KINGS IN A HOLE.
Next Article:DERBY SURELY HAS L.A. LOOK.


Related Articles
ARUM HAS TOUGH SELL.
NOTEBOOK: JONES CHECKS IN ON DEBATE.
TOUGH ENOUGH? GONZALEZ WON'T YIELD IN UPHILL BATTLE.
INSIDE LOOK: `JULIO!' GOES THE DISTANCE.
INSIDE LOOK: `JULIO!' GOES THE DISTANCE.
NO KEEPING UP WITH JONES CHAMPION OVERWHELMS GONZALEZ.
GOOD FIGHTER, BUT FANS WANT GOOD FIGHT.
BOXING NOTEBOOK: GONZALEZ'S CHIN GIVES HIM A CHANCE.
CRITICISM DESERVED? JONES' NATURAL TALENT, DOMINANCE, SPARK DISCONTENT FROM FANS.
FANS BLIND TO JONES' SHINING TALENTS.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters