It's common refrain among members of the boxing press to say that it's 'easy' to win a world title. Perhaps it's not as difficult as it was decades ago before the proliferation of sanctioning bodies, but the truth of the matter is that just a small percentage of boxers actually have championship belts (legitimate ones) around their waist.
And tell that to a guy like Joet Gonzalez -- who faces Isaac Dogboe this Saturday night at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota (ESPN+) -- that picking up a belt is a routine task.
Gonzalez in two title attempts has faced Shakur Stevenson, and then Emanuel Navarrete (both for the WBO featherweight crown), where he came up short. Sometimes timing is everything in life, and unfortunately for him he had to face two of the most difficult and divergent styles you could imagine.
His plight reminds you of Oba Carr, a talented welterweight from the 90's, who came out of the fabled Kronk Gym, and was seemingly ordained to be their next world champion. The problem was that he came at a time when the welterweight class was loaded with blue-chip talent, and in his three title opportunities took on Felix Trinidad, Ike Quartey and Oscar De La Hoya.
'the Motor City' Carr had to face a Murderers Row, and ultimately never became a world champion, in what was a solid career, nonetheless.
This upcoming contest versus Dogboe is being billed as an elimination bout for both the WBC and WBO. The WBC champion at 126 is Rey Vargas, who just recently decisioned Mark Magsayo, while Navarrete still has the WBO strap. Given that Navarrete is aligned with Top Rank, the rematch with 'El Vaquero' would be easier to consummate.
"I'd like another shot at him, obviously," Gonzalez told SNAC.com. "There's a lot of things behind that but I jut hope for the best. If I get past Dogboe, hopefully Navarrete sticks around and I get a shot at him, again."
Their bout last October in San Diego was an entertaining slugfest, where Gonzalez had his moments, but just couldn't keep up with the frenetic onslaught delivered by Navarrete.
Gonzalez said of that contest, "there's always things you could've done differently but what was obvious is that I made Navarrete uncomfortable. I made him respect me, He was in a tough fight, he realized that -- and the second time around it's going be way different."
That bout was his last under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, since then he has been signed by Top Rank, who put Gonzalez in a few of their 'bubble' cards and came away impressed with his fan-friendly style.
"Even in defeat, Joet fought well enough that Top Rank made a deal for him," said his manager, Frank Espinoza. "They know that he's the type of fighter that always puts on a good show, he never cheats the fans. I firmly believe that he will one day become a world champion at some point."
In Dogboe, a former world champion at junior featherweight, he's facing a resurgent boxer, who has won three bouts in a row versus Chris Avalos (W8), Adam Lopez (W10) and Christopher Diaz (W10). Gonzalez says he is expecting, ''an exciting fight," and with a win, he will be right back on the door step of another title shot.
And to him, it wont matter who he faces.
"The people know what I'm about," said the 28 year old from Glendora, California. "Other fighters say, 'I'll fight this person,' or 'I'll fight anybody,' but when it's time, y'know....but with me, I'll fight whoever, whenever, it doesn't matter. I'm here to fight.
"If a fight doesn't happen, just know for sure it's not on my end."
MATTERS OF THE BELT
The WBA denied a special request by their featherweight 'super champion' Leo Santa Cruz to face WBC titlist, Vargas, and ruled that he must face Leigh Wood, who captured their regular title back in March by stopping Michael Conlan in thrilling fashion in the 12th round of their memorable encounter.
It has to be noted that Santa Cruz has not had a featherweight contest since 2019, which makes his designation of being any sort of champion at 126 very dubious. Regardless, Santa Cruz-Wood is an intriguing match-up. The WBA tweeted out on Wednesday that Santa Cruz would comply with their edict.
On Wednesday afternoon the WBO announced that they are ordering a bout between their middleweight champion, Demetrius Andrade, and their interim belt-holder, Janibek Alimkhanuly. The parties have 30 days to negotiate a deal or it will go to purse bids(with a minimum bid of $200,000).
There's very little doubt that Alimkhanuly wants this bout, it would be an eye-opening victory for him. As for Andrade, who was set to face Zach Parker at 168 earlier this year before injuring a shoulder, it's not clear if this is a fight that interests him. Is this too much risk for a relatively small reward?
Matchroom Sports, Ed Mulholland
But then, what other options are out there for him? The last thing leverage 'Boo Boo' has is that belt. Without, it may be next to impossible for him to entice anyone from 160 to 168 to get into the ring with him moving forward. Regardless, it's an interesting bout, one that would actually be worth watching.
On this weeks episode of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' on Triller with Mario Lopez and I, we discuss Ryan Garcia's recent victory, and Seniesa Estrada joins us for a segment:
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