Joet Gonzalez would have loved nothing more than the opportunity to return to the win column.
At the very least, he’s long ago come to grips with having to sit on the first—and what he intends to be the lone—loss of his pro career.
The 26-year old Los Angeles native is one of many athletes around the world whose career is on hold in the wake of a global health crisis. Gonzalez was due to headline the March 19 edition of Golden Boy Fight Night on DAZN, to have aired live from The Avalon in Hollywood, California. The night was to serve as his first step towards returning to title contention, a perch from which he was bumped following a lopsided 12-round points loss to Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7KOs) in their vacant featherweight title fight last October.
“To have performed like that after all the work we put in during training camp, it was devastating,” Gonzalez (23-1, 14KOs) admitted to BoxingScene.com. “Everything went right during training, we had a terrific camp and we were ready. It just wasn’t my night.
“My manager (Frank Espinoza) and Robert (Diaz, executive matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions, Gonzalez’s promoter) broke it down, they reminded me that sometimes you have the best camp, everything goes right and then the fight comes and it’s just not your night. Other times, you have the worst camp and then all of a sudden everything clicks in the ring and you knock dudes out. Obviously, I wished it worked out the other way, but it is what it is.”
Interestingly, Gonzalez’s planned March 19 clash versus Chris Avalos was due to come five days after Stevenson was scheduled to face Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga in the first defense of his featherweight title. Little was made of the coincidence, however, as both boxers preferred to just leave each other in the past. Their head-on clash was considered to be settled business following a tumultuous buildup to their ESPN+ streamed title fight, as Gonzalez’s younger sister Jajaira is the longtime and current girlfriend of Stevenson, a relationship which previously caused a family feud of sorts.
“Even with that, I was still concentrated on my fight. I swear, that stuff never got to my head,” Gonzalez insists. “At the end of the day, that wasn’t what I intended to do, to bring that drama into the ring or even into the (promotion).
“That issue wasn’t my promoter or from my side. We just went with it. I just trained hard and focused on the fight. It wasn’t just my day. I’m taking that into (the next) fight, making sure we do in the ring what we worked on in the gym.”
The first step towards that goal took place almost immediately after no longer enjoying life as an undefeated fighter. In place, came the decision to simply enjoy life.
“After the fight, I told my dad I wanted to take a [brief[ break,” recalled Gonzalez. “I just wanted a week where I didn’t think about that fight, boxing or anything related to boxing. I just stayed at home relaxing, going out to eat, stuff like that. Nothing crazy.
“Even then, my mind started to wander. When you live and breathe what you do, sometimes it’s hard to (decompress). But still, that week of just shutting everything down and focusing on me really helped once I returned to the gym. That’s when I knew I was ready to move forward.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox