WBO Junior Flyweight Champion Jonathan Gonzalez Weighs His Options For The Future
Earlier this month at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on one of the biggest international cards of the year, WBO junior flyweight champion Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 KOs) made the second defense of his title against Shokichi Iwata (9-1, 6 KOs).
After a relatively close first half, Gonzalez pulled away, winning a wide unanimous decision with scores of 116-112 twice and 117-111.
On the card’s main event, Kenshiro Teraji (20-1, 12 KOs) stopped Hiroto Kyoguchi (16-1, 11 KOs) to become the unified WBA/WBC junior flyweight champion. The 30-year-old Teraji also holds the Ring Magazine title in the weight class. A bout between Gonzalez and Teraji could be next on the horizon, getting one step closer to having an undisputed champion in the division.
A unification match between Gonzalez and Teraji would be monumental and worthy of headlining the Super Arena, where only some of the most significant fights in Japanese boxing history have taken place. Most notably, in 2009, the WBC flyweight title battle between rivals Daisuke Naito and Koki Kameda. The Naito-Kameda bout is still, to this day, one of the highest-viewed boxing matches in Japan.
For Jonathan Gonzalez, a bout with Teraji is certainly a possibility and on his mind, but for him making sure that the bout can be as big as possible is crucial.
“I have a lot of options, man,” said the WBO junior flyweight champion in an exclusive interview with NYFights. “I just got to sit down with my promoter, All Star Boxing. If they treat me well, I think this is the biggest fight in 108-pounds history. This is the biggest fight. You have never seen that in this weight class. But let’s see, man. I got a lot of odds that I could go up in weight, I could do an option or I could fight unified, depends what happens.”
The possibility of a move up to the flyweight division isn’t out of the norm for the Puerto Rican. The southpaw has fought numerous times at the weight. Although unsuccessful, his first world title fight was against Kosei Tanaka at flyweight in August 2019. Much like junior flyweight, there are a plethora of bouts available to Gonzalez at flyweight that could give him a chance to become a two-division world champion.
Weight classes below the lightweight division have always been more challenging to navigate, especially in the United States, where the promotion is minimal. Despite a few exceptions, including the super flyweight quartet of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and Carlos Cuadras, fighters at or below the flyweight division aren’t featured on a frequent basis in North America.
“The problem is not the fighters,” Jonathan Gonzalez said to NYFights. “The problem is the network. Networks want to see the big fights. At 108 pounds there’s not a lot of big names; you have Teraji, Hiroto, and Iwata, therse are the fighters that come from Japan and they’re very famous in their country. That’s why we have to go down there and fight over there. Because in the U.S., not a lot of people know about Bomba Gonzalez, and not a lot of people know Teraji. The promotion in the lower weight classes is not that good in the U.S.”
Being the only current male world champion out of the island of Puerto Rico, Gonzalez carries a heavier load each time he steps into the ring. Since the retirement of Miguel Cotto at the end of 2017, the island has witnessed the rise of Amanda Serrano to the top of women’s boxing. Other than Serrano, Puerto Rico has had an inconsistent set of titleholders that haven’t held on to their titles or have captured the eye of the public as fan favorites.
“I take Serrano out,” Jonathan Gonzalez said to NYFights. “Serrano is another league. She’s Puerto Rican, but she’s in another league. She’s at the top of female boxing. But in male boxing, I think that there’s not a big company to support Puerto Rican fighters. I know Berlanga and all these guys are with Top Rank. But there’s just not a fighter that lives in Puerto Rico that has a big promoter like Top Rank or like Eddie Hearn.”
It wasn’t until his fight with Elwin Soto last October that Gonzalez began to get more attention from fans in Puerto Rico. Soto was a massive favorite against Gonzalez as he had previously stopped Puerto Rican power puncher Angel Acosta. The Puerto Rican southpaw would win a split decision in an upset. The victory has only emboldened Gonzalez to uphold his island in the ring and throughout training camp.
“No, it's not just in the ring, it’s always in all training camps,” Jonathan Gonzalez said to NYFights regarding being Puerto Rico’s only male world champion. “I go to three to four months of training camp. I’m the only world champion, man. No one in Puerto Rico, no one in the world thought I was going to beat Soto. And I think that was one of the surprises of the year because I was a 9 to 1 underdog. And even Puerto Ricans knew and thought I was going to be beat because Soto beat Acosta. Since that, I’ve been training. And when I go in the ring, I know I’m the only male world champion. That’s why I’m always in my best condition and my best preparation, just to win. I just want to get a win. Doesn’t matter how, knockout or decision.”
With an array of options available to him, Gonzalez has the opportunity in 2023 and beyond to become a more prominent name in and out of Puerto Rico and solidify himself as an elite fighter. Hopefully, the fights can be made that put him in a position to further his career.