By Thomas Gerbasi
The nickname is one of the best in the fight game today, but just because Christian Gonzalez earned the moniker “Chimpa” from his mother when she said he danced around like a chimpanzee whenever he heard music as a child, that doesn’t mean he’s ever going to bring that dance out again.
Not even if he wins a world title.
“To be honest, I don’t like to dance,” he laughs. “I don’t dance at all. My dad has asked me this question, too, but I think I will have to live it. I think something will come out in that moment but I’m not too sure.”
Well, he’s got time. Just 20 years old, the Buena Park, California prospect is 11-0 with 10 knockouts as a pro, and on Friday night he headlines Golden Boy Promotions’ LA Fight Club event at the Belasco Theater against Mexico’s Alejandro Ochoa. It’s his fourth fight at the venue, giving him a sense of home field advantage when he fights there.
“It feels really good because a lot of people go out and show support and that’s extremely motivational for me to keep working hard and striving to become a world champion,” he said, while admitting that once the bell rings, everything other than his opponent gets shut out.
“You really don’t get to enjoy it; you get to enjoy it when you watch the broadcast after. You’re in game mode so you don’t hear a lot that is going on outside the ring. I tell my dad I wish I could relive the moment and enjoy it, but you are in the zone and just want to get it over with.”
Gonzalez has done a great job of getting things over with thus far, with seven of his ten KOs coming in the first round, with two more ending in round two. He hasn’t been fighting killers, but Julio Sarinara did give him some dicey moments in March, knocking “Chimpa” down and cutting him during a clash of heads before getting halted in the sixth round.
“My first fight with Golden Boy Promotions was with a tough opponent,” Gonzalez said. “I got dropped and cut, but I kept my composure, stayed relaxed and got the victory. As I keep moving up, the opposition will get tougher. Ochoa is a tough opponent, and I think he will be a test.”
The 26-year-old Ochoa may not seem like one on paper thanks to a 7-10-2 record, but if you look past the surface, you’ll see that the Michoacan de Ocampo native has won four of his last five, with three of those wins coming against unbeaten foes, including 12-0 Kevin Rivers Jr. in October. That’s what’s called a live underdog, but Gonzalez is showing an impressive poker face as fight night approaches.
“We take it just like any other one,” he said. “We train 110 percent and we know that the guy is coming to fight and put on a show. We are looking forward to it. We know Ochoa has upset a few fighters. I am extremely excited and can’t wait to fight.”
As the younger brother of former featherweight champion Alejandro “La Cobrita” Gonzalez, it’s not surprising that “Chimpa” has ice water in his veins, but as he points out, he was interested in a different kind of firefight when he was growing up.
“I always wanted to be a firefighter, but as I got older, school wasn’t really the thing for me,” he said. “I started playing soccer and thought I would stick with it but then I got into boxing and it just took over my life.”
That full-time immersion in the sweet science isn’t likely to tone down anytime soon either, so it’s around this time when you see whether a young man just out of his teens wants to act like a typical 20-year-old or bite down on the mouthpiece and start shooting for a world championship. Gonzalez is choosing the latter path.
“You can’t give up the first time it gets hard,” he said. “A lot of young people these days just give up and change directions when something gets hard. There are struggles, like not eating on Thanksgiving or hanging out with friends, but I love what I do. Ever since I started, I have loved it. I love the sport, and I come from a boxing family so I think it’s in the blood.”