LAS VEGAS – Like many American males, Joet Gonzalez wants to beat the crap out of his younger sister’s boyfriend.
Difference is, Gonzalez legally will get that opportunity October 26. And he’ll get paid handsomely for it.
Such is the surreal storyline in advance of the Gonzalez-Shakur Stevenson fight for the vacant WBO featherweight title next month in Reno, Nevada. The 22-year-old Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs), the WBO’s No. 1-ranked featherweight contender, is the longtime boyfriend of the second-ranked Gonzalez’s younger sister, Jajaira Gonzalez.
Stevenson steered clear of discussing this highly unusual situation following a press conference Friday at MGM Grand to announce their fight and three other main events ESPN will televise or stream this fall.
“It’s accurate,” Joet Gonzalez told BoxingScene.com. “They’ve been dating for about three years. It’s been a while. The thing is, I never liked him since the amateurs. I think he’s not good enough for my sister. I’m the older brother, so I’m trying to lead my sister the best route possible. I think there’s better people out there for her. But at the end of the day, she’s gonna date who she wants. All I’ve gotta do is support her, be behind her. But if I don’t like the person, I don’t like the person. I’m keeping my relationship with my sister. With him, I can care less.”
Jajaira Gonzalez, 22, is a decorated amateur boxer who is trying to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic women’s team that’ll compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Stevenson won a silver medal for the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
His success in the ring notwithstanding, the Newark, New Jersey, native never won over Jajaira Gonzalez’s older brother.
“The kid has no class,” Joet Gonzalez said. “He’s disrespectful. He’s ignorant. You guys seen it on the stage. Come fight time, I’m gonna be ready. I’m gonna show him a thing or two again, and I’m gonna beat him down.”
While he’s training to fight Stevenson, Joet Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs) doesn’t plan to have any contact with Jajaira, one of his five siblings. The Azusa, California, native said Friday he hasn’t spoken to her in “a good while.”
“For this fight, I distanced myself a little from my sister,” Joet Gonzalez said. “I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do. I can’t let emotions take over. Come fight time, I’ve just gotta get the job done. I’ve been working my whole life for this, since I was 10 years old. At the end of the day, I’m gonna do what I have to do. It doesn’t matter, the opponent. I’m gonna get the job done.”
Stevenson called Joet Gonzalez “a bitch” during the press conference. He admitted afterward the hard feelings are mutual.
“I can’t tell you no reason,” Stevenson said. “I just do not like him. I been didn’t like him for a long time, and I’m gonna beat him up.”
A smiling Stevenson pretended he didn’t know what reporters asked about when he was pressed regarding dating his opponent’s sister.
“I don’t know you’re talking about,” Stevenson said. “I’m just as confused as you. I don’t know what you’re talking about. … I can’t really tell y’all. I don’t know what makes it different, but I’m telling y’all I do not like him. Me on stage with him right now, I wanted to punch him. I wanted to beat him up.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.