By Jake Donovan
There’s plenty at stake in Monday night’s showdown between Rocky Juarez and Robinson Castellanos, even more so than the fact that both need a win to keep their fledging careers alive. Amazingly for a fight with both fighters owning 10 losses each to their name, at stake for the winner is a future mandatory title shot.
For that reason – as well as the matchup itself – reigning featherweight titlist will serve as an interested observer of the Fox Sports 1-televised main event, which takes place Monday at Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio, Texas.
“It’s a great fight,” Gonzalez acknowledges of the sanctioned featherweight title eliminator. “I wish both fighters best of luck (Monday night).”
Juarez (30-10-1, 21KOs) is perhaps on his ninth and last life in regards to title contention. The 34-year old Texan entered the pro ranks in 2001, following his Silver medal winning effort in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Four failed title shots and a seven-fight winless streak later, Juarez was written off as a fighter who had nothing left to offer the sport heading into his Oct. ’12 clash with Antonio Escalante.
Rather than roll over and permanently accept steppingstone status, Juarez turned in his best performance in years, stopping Escalante in eight rounds. The feat was put on ice as he sat out for another 17 months before getting a crack at featherweight hopeful Rene Alvarado last May, though turning in another shock result, this time scoring an upset – and surprisingly decisive - points win.
Germane to Monday’s fight, Juarez’ performance came just three months after Alvarado stopped Castellanos (20-10-1, 13KOs) in eight rounds. The loss was thought to spell the end of a Cinderella run for the rangy Mexican, but he came roaring back with a one-sided upset 5th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Ronny Rios last October.
While the winner of this bout will become the mandatory, he won’t necessarily be next in line. Gonzalez, who was last seen battering countryman Jorge Arce into submission last October, is planning a ring return in the coming months.
A voluntary defense is in the works, given the other titlists – all of whom are promoted by Top Rank – are moving in another direction for the moment.
“We are looking at Abner Mares, Gary Russell Jr. and Leo Santa Cruz,” revealed Oswlado Küchle of Promociones del Pueblo, Gonzalez’ promoter.
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