Two months in, and arguably 2024 has been the year of the light flyweight.

The WBO light flyweight champion Jonathan Gonzalez hopes to continue that trend against  Rene Santiago in Puerto Rico on Saturday (March 2). 

Gonzalez is also the light flyweight who has floated under the radar. Kenshiro Teraji has endeared himself to hardcore fight fans, unifying the WBA and WBC titles, while South African Sivenathi Nontshinga had two memorable fights with Adrian Curiel with the second bout seeing him reclaim the IBF light flyweight title via a thrilling knockout. 

Gonzalez’s career has been a roller coaster, and now he is looking to end a near 15-month layoff. 

“I am ready, I am ready to make history, I want to beat Rene so bad,” Gonzalez said at this week’s media workout. 

Gonzalez is now working with Amanda Serrano and Jordan Maldonado who are listed as his managers. Gonzalez had a rough 2023, when cancellations forced him out of two fights, one against fellow champion Teraji with pneumonia. 

The second fight that fell by the wayside was against Gerardo Zapata, after Gonzalez fell ill prior to the fight.

Gonzalez is 27-3-1, 14 KOs.

“It doesn’t matter [how many belts] other fighters have in my weight class,” said the 32-year-old. “I truly think in my heart, and in my mind, and [my] skills, that I am the best [108 lbs] fighter in the world.”

Gonzalez finds inspiration in Terence Crawford who held only one world title, the WBO welterweight title, in the lead-up to his undisputed welterweight fight with Errol Spence Jr. 

Gonzalez sees himself in a similar spot. The power-punching Puerto Rican believes that Saturday will be his first step to proving it.

“It doesn’t matter how many belts you have,” Gonzalez said. “Terence Crawford had one belt, and he was the best in the world. I think I am the best.”

Gonzalez is looking to make his third world title defense. 

His opponent, the 31-year-old Santiago, has a record of 12-3, 9 KOs. 

Santiago is also a native of Puerto Rico and is riding a three-fight win streak, and the interim WBO light flyweight champion. He beat Gerardo Zapata via disqualification, who was undefeated at the time, and knocked out Kevin Vivas in his home country of Nicaragua.