By Ryan Maquiñana
Brandon Gonzales spoke to BoxingScene.com/CSNBayArea.com following his controversial draw with Thomas Oosthuizen last Saturday on HBO.
Gonzales (17-0-1, 10 KOs) entered the super middleweight tilt with Oosthuizen (21-0-2, 13 KOs) a lightly regarded underdog, but the Sacramento, Calif., native shed his relative obscurity with a solid performance that had most observers pegging him the winner after 10 rounds. This writer agreed with HBO unofficial scorer Steve Weisfeld, who had Gonzales ahead 96-94.
BoxingScene.com: You entered the fight with the 6-foot-4 Oosthuizen a marked underdog. Immediately, the height discrepancy was evident, as he had about four and a half inches on you. Tell me about the gameplan.
Brandon Gonzales: Initially the gameplan was to fight inside, but the referee kept breaking us up when we did, so we adjusted and brought it outside. I kept turning him, countering him, and I think overall, that confused him.
BoxingScene.com: Is there anything you regret not doing given the decision?
Brandon Gonzales: Everything we worked on in the gym, we definitely worked in [the fight]. I wish we got a little bit more done on the inside. But the things we worked on, with the countering, and beating him with the one-two, I was happy with. I utilized my feints on the inside. I was pleased with my performance.
BoxingScene.com: Your trainer, Virgil Hunter, was constantly whispering his advice to you between rounds. I don’t think I’ve seen him do that as much with his other fighters. What did you think about his demeanor in the corner?
Brandon Gonzales: We were really clicking that night, even moreso than the gym when I’m sparring actually. This was it. This was the biggest fight of my career, and we were focused. Every relationship is different, and I didn’t have a problem with the whispering as long as he wasn’t yelling at me. (Laughs)
BoxingScene.com: One knock on you heading into this fight was that you had never fought past the eighth round. How much did your strength and conditioning work with Victor Conte and Remi Korchemny come into play as far as endurance was concerned?
Brandon Gonzales: It definitely helped. The hypoxic training with Victor and track workouts with Remi helped a lot. I didn’t really start breathing until the sixth round. I didn’t really start sweating a lot until the second half of the fight. My conditioning was there. Also, I also want to thank Lisa Giannone at Active Care San Francisco for helping me work out the recurring problems I had with my hamstring. I felt great out there.
BoxingScene.com: The judges had the fight a split draw. How did you score it?
Brandon Gonzales: I thought I clearly won eight rounds if it were on even territory. I don’t think he started landing effective shots until round six or seven. His body punches were more him trying to keep me off of him rather than it was effective aggression.
BoxingScene.com: Given the way Oosthuizen came on late, were you worried that the decision wouldn’t go your way?
Brandon Gonzales: I thought I got the decision until it took awhile for them to read the scorecards. I thought I went into the promoter’s home turf and did enough to win, but this is boxing, and nothing surprises me anymore. Anything can happen.
BoxingScene.com: You’ve been relatively obscure in terms of the world stage until Saturday. However, at one point, you were considered the heir apparent to succeed Andre Ward as Olympic gold medalist at light heavyweight in 2008 before turning pro to provide for your family. Did you enter this fight with a chip on your shoulder?
Brandon Gonzales: They have to take notice. HBO is the biggest platform in boxing. Clearly, the majority of people thought I won the fight. At worst, it was a draw, I’ve heard. I haven’t heard anybody said they thought Thomas won the fight. Lou DiBella came up to me and said he clearly thought I won the fight. But it’s logistics. It’s his territory. That’s just the situation.
BoxingScene.com: Do you want an immediate rematch?
Brandon Gonzales: I would love a rematch, especially to do it again on HBO, but at the same time, I clearly thought I won the fight.
BoxingScene.com: Your last performance on ESPN2 against Don Mouton, to be honest, wasn’t your best outing. What message does this performance against Oosthuizen send to your critics?
Brandon Gonzales: They saw the progression. For people who have seen me in the past, there are people who were skeptical, and now there will be people who will jump on the bandwagon. But however they want to label me, that’s up to the fans and reporters. My main thing is to get better with my craft in the gym.
BoxingScene.com: What did your promoter Dan Goossen tell you after the fight as far as where you want to go from here?
Brandon Gonzales: My manager James Prince was there, but I’m disappointed that no one from Goossen Tutor was there. I didn’t even get a call from my promoter.
BoxingScene.com: You have the same manager and co-promoter (Antonio Leonard) as Andre Ward, who just completed an arbitration hearing with Goossen in hopes of getting a release from his contract. Could that have had anything to do with it?
Brandon Gonzales: That’s a whole separate entity. Whatever they’ve got going on with Andre shouldn’t affect me and my career, and vice versa.
BoxingScene.com: Last question. Sacramento is one of the great fight towns, having produced champions like Tony Lopez, Loreto Garza, and Diego Corrales in recent years. Do you feel like you’re taking the torch now?
Brandon Gonzales: I’ve always wanted to bring boxing back to Sacramento, and I hope this will build my case. I want to start something big. I think the fans would come out and I think we could put on a good show. That’s one of my short-term goals. Either way, I think I proved I deserve another big fight on HBO, whether it’s a rematch or against whoever. I’m ready.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.