By Keith Idec
Ossie Duran waited two years for another chance to prove himself against an undefeated fighter.
The veteran middleweight knows he can’t waste it.
The durable Duran, of Paterson, N.J., stands between unbeaten Brandon Gonzales and advancement in the 160-pound division. They’ll fight Friday night in the eight-round main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” broadcast from Bally’s Events Center in Atlantic City (Showtime; 11 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. PDT).
“You can’t underestimate any fighter, but I think I’m the best fighter he has fought,” Duran said. “I’m going to prove that to him Friday night.”
The 34-year-old Duran is a better boxer than his 26-8-2 record indicates. A cerebral, crafty fighter with a stiff jab, he has won three straight bouts since going 0-3-1 in four fights from June 2007-October 2009.
The last of those four fights was a 10-round majority decision defeat to then-undefeated Fernando Guerrero (21-1, 16 KOs) in Guerrero’s hometown of Salisbury, Md. That loss two years ago reminded Duran to try his best to decisively win rounds, particularly when he’s facing a favored fighter who’s on his way up.
“The Guerrero fight was a lesson for me,” Duran said. “In this fight, I’m not leaving it to the judges. I’m going in there to win this fight, to knock him out or beat him so that nobody can steal this fight from me. I know I’m the underdog, so I need to win big.”
Like Guerrero, Gonzales, of Sacramento, Calif., is considered the ‘A’ side in his fight against Duran. The 27-year-old Gonzales (14-0, 10 KOs, 1 NC) was a decorated amateur who has honed his skills in countless sparring sessions with WBA super middleweight champ Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), who’s trained by Virgil Hunter, also Gonzales’ trainer.
But Duran has faced much stiffer opposition in his 15-year pro career, including a 10-round unanimous decision defeat to then-undefeated James Kirkland (29-1, 26 KOs) in a “ShoBox” bout four years ago. Duran also feels more comfortable boxing at middleweight, the division to which he moved up from junior middleweight after another narrow loss in a 10-rounder to David Lopez (40-13, 23 KOs) in April 2009.
“This is going to be televised, so beating this guy is going to put me out there for a good shot, for some good paydays,” Duran said. “This is a big opportunity for me.”
The humble Duran doesn’t want a big payday to purchase material things, though.
He is leading an effort to build a clinic in his native Nator, Ghana, from which the nearest hospital is more than a two-hour drive. Duran has already secured land from the Ghanaian government and has helped recruit American doctors to invest in the project.
The more money he makes in boxing, the faster Duran’s dream can become a reality. He also hopes to build a boxing gym in Nator, where he visited some remaining family members over the summer.
“God-willing, things go fine for me,” Duran said, “because there a lot of things I want to do for them.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.