According to his advisor, Gabby Penagaricano, Puerto Rican junior middleweight slugger Jonathan "Mantequilla" Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) has turned a corner in his career after having the best camp of his career.
Looking to erase the memory of his lackluster, overweight performance last September against former world champion Sergei Dzinziruk, Gonzalez will appear in the co-featured bout of ESPN's Friday Night Fights 2013 debut broadcast on Friday, January 4, 2013, live from Stage 305 in the Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida against Philadelphia's Derek "Pooh" Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs).
Presented by Warriors Boxing and Bad Dog Productions, in association with the Magic City Casino, the live broadcast is set to begin at 10 PM Eastern on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, as well as online through WatchESPN.com, and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.
In the night's 12-round main event, IBF #6-rated Rances Barthelemy will face IBF #14-rated Arash Usmanee in a junior lightweight voluntary eliminator for the #2 contender position.
"Jonathan has been in camp in Florida for close to two full months without any interruptions," explained Penagaricano. "These have been the best preparations of his career. He'll be 100% on fight night, on weight and ready to go."
According to Penagaricano, the debacle in September taught Gonzalez a lot about the commitment required to excel at the elite level of boxing.
"He's absolutely maturing as a result of the September fight and everything that happened. I think that camp, he needed to be in Puerto Rico for personal reasons and he wasn't able to be with his trainer, and there were interruptions and distractions. Even apart from the weight, he was not 100% like he will be this time. This time has been fantastic. He definitely made the right decisions for this one. He has taken this camp very seriously. We're all seeing him maturing as a fighter and as a person. I think he realized the need to leave Puerto Rico for camp every fight, like other important fighters from here have done. He notices the difference in his level of conditioning.
Penagaricano is also happy with Gonzalez's choice to face Ennis and what it says about the 23-year-old.
"It would have been very easy to find some opponent for him to beat in one or two rounds, but in his career, he's never been like that. He's a prospect that has faced quality opposition since the beginning. His record has a lot of opponents with winning records, which is not typical anymore. The majority of opponents have been decent opposition and he has been able to knock all but one or two out. And now, even though we could have picked someone very easy for him, this opponent came across who is very decent and capable fighter and he said right away that's the fight he wants. That's just how he is. He will always choose the harder opponent. With his ability and this new mentality, I have no doubt he will become one of the great Puerto Rican fighters."
Jonathan Gonzalez is co-promoted by Warriors Boxing, Gary Shaw Productions, and Universal Promotions.
The undercard, which will be announced shortly, will feature several young local and international rising stars.
Tickets are on sale now on the Magic City Casino website www.magiccitycasino.com as well as in person at the Magic City Players Club. They are priced at $100, $75, $50 and $35.
Doors open at 7:30 pm and the first bell is at 8:00.