Six months have passed since Joet Gonzalez was given the bad news that weeks of preparation for a scheduled fight would ultimately go to waste.
The former title challenger was among the first wave of boxers to see their planned bouts fall prey to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Gonzalez was due to face Chris Avalos on March 19, his first fight back since coming up well short in a featherweight title bid versus Shakur Stevenson last October.
Instead, the 26-year old Los Angeles native has been forced to sit on his lone career loss for eleven months heading into this weekend’s clash versus Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga (29-3, 25KOs). The two collide this Saturday, live on ESPN+ from The Bubble in Las Vegas (7:30pm ET)—assuming all goes as planned.
“Once we weigh in and get those second COVID tests back, I’ll know the fight is on for sure,” Gonzalez (23-1, 14KOs) quipped to BoxingScene.com. “We get tested going into The Bubble, we get tested again at the weigh-in.
“I know I’ll be on weight, not like his last opponent. As long as those results come back, that will be the sign that the fight is on.”
It has been an even worse experience for Marriaga, even as he enters on the heels of a four-fight win streak. The former three-time title challenger lost out on a shot at Stevenson’s featherweight title when their March 14 fight was canceled due to the pandemic. Efforts to get him back in the ring this past July fell apart at the scale when scheduled opponent Mark John Yap showed up nine pounds overweight, thus forcing the Nevada State Athletic Commission to cancel the fight on the spot.
Ultimately, it is all subject matter well beyond an athlete’s control. Gonzalez came to grips with that relatively soon after his clash with Avalos never saw the light of day, just growing more determined to come correct once a new opportunity presented itself.
The chance to fight Marriaga came about after several other candidates turned it down cold. Gonzalez—who is managed by Frank Espinoza and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions—was a little surprised when he learned that the line was short for such a fight.
“I mean, I’m a fighter. This is what we do, we’re here to fight,” notes Gonzalez. “In the amateurs, we never got to pick and choose who we fought. In the pros, you have to carry that same mentality.
“My team, they asked me if I wanted this fight. I was like, we’re in a pandemic. There are no easy fights. Tough fights like this are the fights that I want.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox