By Francisco Salazar
This was not in the script. Or at least, Jhonny Gonzalez was not supposed to score what would probably be one of the biggest upsets of the year so far in 2013.
But it happened because Gonzalez had his own ending in mind. Gonzalez not only dropped Abner Mares, but proved at 31 years of age that his career is far from over. He now has a world title belt as a bargaining chip for future fights after stopping the heavy-favorite Mares in the first round of their scheduled bout at the Stubhub Center in Carson, CA.
Mares told BoxingScene.com in an interview before the fight that he respected Gonzalez’s punching power and experience in the ring.
However, very few members of the media and fans felt Gonzalez would be able to keep up with the younger and faster Mares.
Truth be told, it was in Gonzalez's best interest to go for the knockout early in the fight. Mares would likely weather the early Gonzalez barrage and use his youth and speed to his advantage.
Gonzalez caught the fans, media, and even Mares by surprise when he landed a left hook to the head to send the defending champion to the canvas. Mares got up, but it looked as though his feet weren't underneath him.
Mares tried to fight back, dangerously exchanging with the hard-hitting Gonzalez while neglecting to hold on until his legs were stabilized. But that is not Mares, who has gained numerous fight fans with his boxer-puncher style.
Moments later, a combination by Gonzalez dropped Mares again to the canvas. Mares tried to get up, but referee Jack Reiss waved the fight over at 2:55.
While the debate is out whether Reiss should have allowed Mares to get up a second time, Mares didn't question the call.
“I do not have a problem with the referee doing his job of stopping the fight.”
“You have to learn how to win and how to lose in this sport. I did not go into boxing thinking I was going to go undefeated. All I want is to fight the best.”
Golden Boy Promotions has three options on Gonzalez.
However, he feels vindicated about the win over Mares, considering what he went through minutes before the fight.
“I was told to re-wrap my hands twice,” said Gonzalez, who won the WBC title that Mares was defending for the first time. “When I had him down, I knew he was hurt. So I went in for the kill. I knew that it was only a matter of time.”
“I felt as though they were treating me as a stepping stone because they were talking about matching Mares up with Santa Cruz. That is why I had to win at all costs. (Trainer) Nacho Beristain was a big asset to me.”
Frank Espinoza acknowledged to Boxingscene.com that there is a rematch clause in the contract and they will exercise it at the appropriate time.
Gonzalez, from Mexico City, DF, Mexico, goes to 55-8, 47 KOs. Mares, from Hawaiian Gardens, CA by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, falls to 26-1-1, 14 KOs.
In what was his toughest test to date, Leo Santa Cruz passed with flying colors, stopping Victor Terrazas in the third round of a scheduled 12 round bout.
In the process, Santa Cruz becomes a world titleholder in two weight divisions, winning the WBC super bantamweight title.
Both boxers fought on the inside, having their moments from the opening bell. With his height and reach advantage, Santa Cruz worked from the outside, but was wary of Terrazas trying to get on the inside. Although both had their areas of success, Santa Cruz landed the more accurate punches, especially with right uppercuts and left hooks to the body.
Halfway through the second round, Terrazas developed a big welt above his right cheekbone, which began closing his eye shut. It did not deter Terrazas, who was pressed the action, landing a few uppercuts on the inside.
However, Santa Cruz swung momentum in his favor by landing more to the body, especially at the beginning of the third round. A barrage of punches dropped Terrazas to the canvas midway through the round. Terrazas barely made the count and tried to fight back. Moments later, Terrazas went down again from another a barrage of punches. After getting up, referee Dr. Lou Moret waved the fight over at 2:09.
“I was not expecting to knock him down in the early rounds,” said Santa Cruz after the fight. “Terrazas is a great fighter and I had to pressure him to get him down.”
“It’s been a dream of mine to get this (WBC) belt since I was little. I’m dedicating to my brother this belt because he’s had to battle his disease (lupus). I want to fight two more times at the weight (122 pounds) and move up in weight.”
“This was a good fight. He was tougher than I expected. I wanted to continue because I thought I was getting to him.”
Santa Cruz, from Los Angeles, CA by way of Huatabampo, Michoacan, Mexico, goes to 25-0-1, 15 KOs. Terrazas, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, falls to 37-3-1, 21 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written Boxingscene.com since September and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper and Knockout Nation. He could be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at FSalazarBoxing