Flying way below boxing's radar is a world title fight in Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, this Friday, June 24. Live on ProBox TV, Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez (25-3-1) will be making the first defense of his WBO junior flyweight title against Mark Anthony “Da Baby Face” Barriga (11-1).
Gonzalez bested Elwin Soto in a split decision victory in his last fight. The Puerto Rican champion by way of The Bronx was a 19-1 underdog against Soto. However, Gonzalez defied the odds and lifted the WBO junior flyweight strap off the Mexican native. Threatening Gonzalez's title reign is former Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga. The Filipino native represented his country in the 2012 Olympic games and challenged for the IBF world minimum weight title in 2018 against Carlos Lincona.
In a one-on-one interview with NYFights, the man known as “Bomba” (The Bomb) looks to derail Barriga's dream of becoming a world champion and vows to knockout the Filipino challenger. Please enjoy this Q&A with Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez.
NYF: First, how are you doing champ, and how is your family?
JG: I'm doing good; I'm happy to be with you. God has given me this opportunity to do this interview with you. I'm ready to talk about the fight.
NYF: How has training camp been and have you done anything differently in preparation for this fight?
JG: For this fight, I haven't changed much in my preparation. I have changed my nutrition. The preparation has been great. I had twelve weeks of training camp- It's one of the best training camps I have done. I have done everything great on the track and in the gym, and I am one hundred percent ready. I'm ready for June 24.
NYF: Speaking about nutrition, Errol Spence Jr. said he focused more on nutrition in preparation for his fight against Ugas, which paid dividends. What changes have you made to your diet in preparation for this fight?
JG: All boxers need this. All these boxers think nutrition is not important. I drink over a gallon of water daily. Water gives you energy. These boxers are scared to drink water. I have a nutritionist who makes my food. Nutrition is important because that's the energy for your body. You can't be 2-3 days without eating; you're not going to make weight. Those are two things that have changed my body. I can make 108 lbs. I can't say I can make it easier, but I can make it better than last time. That's what boxers need to learn about nutrition.
NYF: In your last fight, you defeated Elwin Soto to win the WBO junior flyweight title. When they announced that you were the winner, you let out a roar of excitement. What were the feelings and emotions you experienced at that very moment?
JG: I just said in my mind that my dream came true. I said, “I won this fight. I won this fight.” I'm glad God has given me everything; I'm still happy. However, it doesn't mean that because I'm a world champion now, I will win automatically. I got to train harder because these boys want my title. They want to be in my position. That's why I'm training hard just to beat these guys up.
NYF: In an interview with NYFights, Barriga was asked what he thought of you as a fighter. He told NYFights, “He is a good fighter, and I respect him because he's a champion and is not the kind of boxer that's easy to beat. But if you ask me if he is the toughest opponent I have fought, I think no! There's a lot of fighters that I fought with much better skills than Gonzalez.” What do you make of his comments?
JG: Like who? Who has he fought better than a world champion? Ok, I don't want to get into a word thing with this guy. He has his own team; his team can say whatever they want to him. They can say you're going to beat Bomba if that's what he wants to hear. He has not fought a boxer at my level, a real-world champion. He fought for 105 lbs. against; I don't know who, Lincona. After he beat Barriga, Lincona lost four times. I don't think Barriga is right. If that's what he has in his mind, better for me. He's going to see- he's going to see where our levels are-you are at one level, and champions are in another level-after four rounds, he'll see. You'll see what's going to happen.
NYF: You're Barriga's third fight after almost a three-year layoff. Do you think he's saying these things to hype himself up or does he really believe what he is saying?
JG: I hope he believes it. I hope he does. If he thinks…Ok, just look at the papers (Barriga's resume)! If you think he has fought in his 12 fights… I have more knockouts than he has fights! I don't want to disrespect anyone; I don't want to do that. But just look at their records (Gonzalez is referring to the records of the Barriga's previous opponents)- 8-6, 0-1-you, see? How are you going to say you fought better fighters than me? And you're fighting guys 0-8 and 8-4. In his last fight, he fought a guy 6-8, and he dropped him (Barriga)! You were an Olympian, and I respect that. I respect the Olympics. But we are not in the Olympics; we are in a 12-round fight. Let him say what he wants to say. I don't care.
NYF: Against Elwin Soto, you fought a technical fight using your boxing skills rather than your power. Barriga is not known to be a power puncher, so do you plan on boxing Barriga or taking the fight to him and trying to get him out of there early?
JG: It depends. I can fight toe-toe for twelve rounds. I guarantee you I can do it. I've done it in this preparation because I already know how to box. In this preparation, I've been sparring twelve rounds toe-to-toe. With people stronger than him, guys that are 122 lbs. and 118 lbs. I think the first four rounds will be a chess match. He's going to throw less punches. He's going to wait for me to use my jab and throw a left over it; we know that. We know what he's going to bring. Because after the weigh-in, I'll come in at 131-132 lbs. I don't think he'll go up a lot of weight. I'm going to use my body and my weight and start pressuring from the fourth round and up.
NYF: What does it mean to you to be a Puerto Rican world champion, and how have the people of Puerto Rico embraced you as their champion?
JG: The problem with Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans is that they haven't followed much boxing since Miguel Cotto. We got Berlanga, a tremendous fighter, but I see people are not following a lot of boxing. People don't even know I'm a world champion. The promotional things got to get better in Puerto Rico, that's what I think. I received a lot of messages since the fight, and I still receive messages, but I think Puerto Rican fans are forgetting about boxing since Miguel Cotto.
NYF: What next for team Bomba after the Barriga fight?
JG: I have this fight; I have another contract signed for another fighter. I can't say anything because I have to wait for this fight to end. Maybe we will fight again in November; I have to win this fight first. I have a lot of dreams. I have to fight these two fights and then go up to 112lbs. and get a second world title in a second weight class. After that, hopefully, go up to 115lbs. and try to get a third one too.
NYF: Champ, thank you for taking the time to talk to NYFights. You have the last word. What do you want to tell the readers before your fight this Friday?
JG: Thank you very much. It's been a blast these years. I have fought everywhere, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Florida. I'm very blessed. People love me, and I love them. And the people that don't love me, I still love you no matter what. I hope I can see you on June 24; it's going to be a blast. You are going to see a different fight; you're not going to see the Bomba running; you're going to see a blast that night. I'm going to look for the knockout; I don't care. I'm going to say that! I will say it! I know I have the power, and I know I have the intelligence. He doesn't punch well; his record says it. So we're going to look for that knockout. Hopefully, that night we can get a late knockout.
Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez is a strong fighter who can box and brawl. During the interview, the Puerto Rican champion seemed focused and confident that he had made the necessary preparations to beat Mark Anthony Barriga. Dubbed the “Filipino Floyd Mayweather,” Mark Anthony Barriga is a defensively sound boxer and accurate counter puncher. With two distinct styles accompanied by some prefight trash talking, this fight is boiling into a stew of violence that will spew into the ring on June 24. Gonzalez said he plans to take the battle to Barriga and end the fight early? Is that the best fight plan against a skilled counterpuncher like Barriga? Will Barriga's defensive skills be enough to ward off Gonzalez's attack plan? Well, you'll have to tune in this Friday night on https://proboxtv.com to find out.