By Keith Idec
Virgil Hunter was familiar with Brandon Gonzales before he began training the undefeated 160-pound prospect.
Gonzales, of Sacramento, Calif., has been one of Andre Ward’s primary sparring partners for more than two years, so Hunter has watched Gonzales progress against a highly skilled world champion Hunter has long guided. After getting a closer look at Gonzales recently, however, Hunter is more convinced than ever that the 27-year-old middleweight has championship potential.
“I’ve been with Brandon about four months now,” Hunter said. “But this is my first full fight camp as his head trainer. I definitely see world-class potential in him. The desire, discipline and talent is all in place. If he doesn’t achieve his goals in boxing, it won’t be for lack of trying.”
Gonzales spent the past six weeks training at King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland, Calif., about an hour-and-a-half from his home in Sacramento, to get ready for his eight-round fight Friday night against veteran Ossie Duran (26-8-2, 10 KOs) in Atlantic City. The Duran-Gonzales fight, a step up in class for Gonzales (14-0, 10 KOs, 1 NC), will be the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” broadcast from Bally’s Events Center (Showtime; 11 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. PDT).
Five weeks ago, Gonzales was the sparring partner responsible for accidentally causing a cut over Ward’s right eye that forced the postponement of Ward’s fight against Carl Froch. Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) and Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) were supposed to box Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, but Showtime’s “Super Six World Boxing Classic” final was rescheduled for Dec. 17, also at Boardwalk Hall.
Gonzales hopes to get a spot on the Ward-Froch undercard if he can defeat Duran, of Paterson, N.J., and come out of their fight unscathed. He also expects to return to Oakland after the fight to continue helping Ward get ready for the Froch fight.
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.