Ex-bantamweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez is, first of all, looking to return to the ring on August 1 in Arizona, coming off of a TKO win in the fourth round against veteran Mauricio Pastrana on May 16. It was Jhonny's fourth straight win since his KO loss to Gerry Penalosa last year.
But more interestingly, Gonzalez and his camp are apparently pressing the WBC to make his fight either an eliminator or for an interim title, hoping to force a rematch with WBC super bantamweight champion Israel Vazquez.
Personally, I love the idea. Vazquez-Gonzalez was a Fight of the Year contender in 2006, an incredibly dramatic affair that saw Vazquez rebound from being knocked down twice to stop Gonzalez in the 10th when Jhonny's corner threw in the towel. It was a turning point for both men; Vazquez got to display his courage, power, and relentless nature to steal the show on the undercard of Barrera-Juarez II, but his dance partner, Gonzalez, was the man that was dominating the fight before Vazquez turned up the heat.
I'm getting to the point where I think we can be pretty sure that Vazquez-Marquez IV will happen. But they have time to do that. In the interim, Vazquez-Gonzalez II would suit me just fine, and Marquez could take on another opponent in the meantime to build back up to another fight with Vazquez. Even if both Vazquez and Marquez lost fights, it wouldn't really matter. It was never really about the championship between those two. It's a real rivalry, and their fight will always mean something to boxing fans and to one another, I would guess.
Gonzalez (38-6, 32 KO) is a hell of a fighter. He's probably not at his best anymore, after years of fights (and good ones) and nagging injuries that start piling up for any fighter. But I still think he could give a good show against Vazquez, and frankly he's not totally undeserving or anything. He badly overtrained for his fight with Penalosa (coming in at 116 3/4 pounds for a 118-pound title fight is just not a good sign for any fighter), and let's also not ignore that he was owning Penalosa at a distance before Gerry landed a perfect body shot. That happens, you know?
I'd love to see the fight. Vazquez's talk has seemed to indicate that he'll be ready to fight again late this year or in January 2009, so that'd give Gonzalez plenty of time to fight in August and then get ready for a big rematch. I think in the end, Vazquez is just too powerful for Gonzalez, but it'd be nice to see.
I also wanted to note that it always surprises me how young Jhonny is. This guy is 26, turns 27 in September. His record is also fairly misleading; yes, he has six losses, and you don't just get to erase those. But he started his career 0-2, got to 14-2, and then fought and lost to Ricardo Vargas two times. Since then, his only losses are to world-class Vazquez and a one-shotter to Penalosa. Some folks talk about Jhonny like he's flat washed-up; if he was four years older, I might agree. But he's still so young. There's gotta be plenty of juice left.