By Jake Donovan
Big plans were in store and then put on hold while Jhonny Gonzalez tried to figure out when and against whom he would make the first defense of his second featherweight title reign.
Now with showdown versus Clive Atwell merely hours away, already being pursued is a major fight with a win on Saturday evening in Acapulco, Mexico.
Rumors of a proposed showdown between Gonzalez and former four-division champion Jorge Arce continue to gain traction. The famed diminutive warrior remains in competition with Juan Manuel Marquez as the first boxer in the history of Mexico to win titles in five separate weight classes.
With that dream in mind, Arce (63-7-2, 48KO) reneged on his retirement announcement which came following a Dec. ’12 4th round knockout loss to Nonito Donaire. The 34-year old returned to the ring late last year, having won two straight as he watches Saturday’s featherweight title fight with great interest.
Strangely enough, Arce has been more active since coming out of retirement than has been the case for Gonzalez (55-8, 47KO) since regaining his featherweight title.
The two-time featherweight champ and former bantamweight titlist returned to the title fray with a shocking 1st round knockout of Abner Mares last August. The win was hailed by many publications, including BoxingScene.com as the biggest upset to come in 2013.
With the feat, Gonzalez regained the belt he conceded to Daniel Ponce de Leon nearly one year prior. The title loss brought a disappointing end to his 17-month title reign which began with an upset 4th round knockout win over Hozumi Hasegawa on the road in Japan in April ’11.
A refreshing revival came in his knockout of Mares, but Gonzalez’ career was unofficially placed on hold while awaiting a rematch to materialize. Mares was forced to withdraw from their proposed sequel due to a reported rib injury, but the fight was never rescheduled, forcing Gonzalez to move on.
The chain of events led to the 32-year old defending versus Atwell (12-0-1, 7KO), who fights outside of his native Guyana for the first time in his career.
A win by Gonzalez on Saturday gives his handlers additional leverage to pursue a showdown with Arce, which would be a massive event anywhere in Mexico. Promoter Oswaldo Kuchle has already opened up discussion with Arce’s team, and is actively seeking a venue for such a clash. Mexico City, Gonzalez’ hometown remains in the mix, although Kuchle has also mentioned the possibility of the fight landing in a 20,000 seat venue in Arce’s home state of Sinaloa.
Saturday’s title fight will air live on Televisa, also the network on which Kuchle plans to stage a proposed Gonzalez-Arce showdown. The majority of Arce’s bouts airing in Mexico have been televised on TV Azteca.
Those details have plenty of time to be sorted out, as Gonzalez still has to get past Atwell on Saturday. While the lure of looking ahead to a bigger fight can prove as dangerous as it is tempting, there’s also something to be said of knowing what lies ahead, a luxury Gonzalez hasn’t yet enjoyed during his most recent championship reign.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox