By Steve Kim Updated on September 14, 2023

Last Chance Saloon for Gonzalez

While not the usual big event that takes place on Mexican Independence weekend, they are a pair of interesting bouts that take this on Friday and Saturday night that highlight the boxing schedule.

Tonight from the  American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, Jose Alberto Lopez defends his IBF featherweight title against Joet Gonzalez as the main event on ESPN.

For Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KOs), who's been a solid contender for a good part of his career, you figure this is his last opportunity at the brass ring. Unfortunately for him in his previous title opportunities he has had the unenviable task of facing Shakur Stevenson and his sterling skills, and the unrelenting pressure and activity of Emanuel Navarrete. 

In an era when boxers squat on rankings and hope that certain guys move up in weight so that they can compete for vacant titles versus less difficult foes, Gonzalez has gone right into the eye of the storm.


Picture for Last Chance Saloon for Gonzalez

Top Rank 

His plight reminds you a bit of Oba Carr, who had three major problems in his career as a solid welterweight: Felix Trinidad, Ike Quartey and Oscar De La Hoya. Sometimes timing is everything in life -- and in a boxing career. 

Now he faces the two-fisted power of 'Venado' Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) who is coming off back-to-back wins over Josh Warrington (W12) and Michael Conlan(KO5) as he played the role of road warrior.

Venado Lopez STUNS Belfast & Mick Conlan | FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS - YouTube

Much like a Navarrete, he isn't necessarily a textbook boxer but possesses heavy hands and has a steady attack. He is a fighter who's sum is greater than the sum of his parts. Currently he is rated number one by Ring Magazine, and comes into this contest as the favorite. 


Picture for Last Chance Saloon for Gonzalez
Top Rank 

“It’s going to be a total war," said Lopez."When there are two hungry Mexicans in the ring, they always go at it with everything. We know that Joet Gonzalez is tough. And my goal, as I’ve said, is to knock him out.”

It should be a solid back-and-forth affair, the question is can Gonzalez finally get over the hump? There is this realization that he has pulled up to the Last Chance Saloon. It's now or never for him. 

“I’m expecting a great fight. It’s a big day for Mexico. All I have to do is win and become the new IBF world champion. Plain and simple. I can’t go home empty-handed. I’m bringing that belt back home.”


Then from the Commerce Casino near Los Angeles on DAZN, lightweight contender, William Zepeda, faces the well-traveled, Mercito Gesta. In the past I've said that certain all-action boxers fight as if they're double-parked.


Picture for Last Chance Saloon for Gonzalez
Golden Boy

Well, Zepeda (28-0 24 KOs) goes about it like he's not only double-parked, but also robbing a bank.  There is a particular sense of urgency in which he comes out chucking leather from all angles. There really are no 'feel out' rounds with this whirlwind southpaw.

FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS | William Zepeda vs. Jaime Arboleda - YouTube

Zepeda has clearly established himself as a contender at 135. He is rated seventh by Ring Magazine, and is in the top ten of all the four major sanctioning bodies (ranked as high as number two by the WBA, whos belt is held by Gervonta Davis). There are some recognizable names on his ledger like Hector Tanajara, Rene Alvarado and Joseph Diaz.

In Gesta (34-3-3, 17 KOs) he's facing another familiar face, who has challenged for the title twice, falling short against Miguel Vazquez and then Jorge Linares. He had the unenviable task of living up the standards of Manny Pacquiao, given that he was left-handed and Filipino. But he's been a pretty solid pro, and coming into this contest has put up two victories over Joel and Joseph Diaz.


Picture for Last Chance Saloon for Gonzalez
Golden Boy Promotions 

At this stage of his career at age 35, can he withstand the oncoming storm that is headed his way in Zepeda. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and if Gesta is judicious with his punch output, then he might get drown in leather. For him, much like Gonzalez, this could be his final shot to stay relevant. 

As for Zepeda, this an opportunity to add another name to your ledger, and continued to build his case for a title shot.


This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule', Mario Lopez and I look at the situation surrounding Shakur Stevenson, preview the aforementioned bouts, and everything else in boxing:


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Also on the ESPN card on Friday night is Emiliano Vargas, who makes his network debut...The ESPN+ portion of the undercard begins at 6:30 pm, ET/ 3:30 PT and features Ruben Villa, Tiger Johnson and Jamaine Ortiz....The DAZN card begins at 8 pm, ET/5 pm, PT on Saturday....This weeks college football schedule is pretty mediocre, but I'll be watching much of it...Speaking of Stevenson, it looks like he will be facing Edwin De Los Santos on November 16 -- we think....I can be reached at

About Author
Last Chance Saloon for Gonzalez
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.