By Ryan Maquiñana
Brandon Gonzales is inching closer to a long-awaited shot at a super middleweight world title, but he would rather leap into the opportunity.
The IBF sent a letter Friday intending to pair him with Russia’s Maxim Vlasov in an eliminator for the No. 1 contender position, but that the Sacramento, Calif., native would have until Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. ET to answer the call.
The unbeaten Gonzales’ reply was unequivocal.
“I want to fight Vlasov,” Gonzales told BoxingScene.com. “We’re ready to make the fight happen. I’ve been waiting my whole career to fight for a world title and this eliminator is the next step. I’m ready for it.”
Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KOs) and Vlasov (28-1, 14 KOs), currently ranked sixth and seventh by the IBF, are the highest-ranking contenders available, as all the fighters above them either have appeared recently or fought for other sanctioning bodies’ regional belts.
One of them, No. 3 Thomas Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13 KOs) escaped with a draw against Gonzales in a decision most observers pegged for the Northern California native.
Carl Froch (32-2, 23 KOs), who is coming off a controversial comeback stoppage win over George Groves (19-1, 15 KOs), is the IBF’s reigning beltholder.
“I don’t know too much about (Vlasov), but I’m all for it. If that’s the fight the IBF wants for him, then I’m open for it -- as long as it’s against me,” Gonzales said. “I’m the highest-ranked fighter available. For them to bypass me would not be justified.”
For the meantime, Gonzales, who recently announced he was a free agent after claiming he had parted ways with promoter Dan Goossen, is pushing for the Vlasov tilt with a sense of urgency.
“He’s already at 30 fights, and at that point, I figure it would be time for him to make some moves,” Gonzales said of Vlasov. “Me being where I am with almost 20 fights, I’m right on track to fight for a title. (Vlasov’s team) jumped the gun saying he was going to fight someone else, but that was false. We’re available. Contact my manager James Prince and we can make it happen.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine's Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net or follow him on Twitter @RMaq28.