Christian ‘Chimpa’ Gonzalez continues to learn
The first time undefeated junior lightweight Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez performed at Los Angeles’ Belasco Theater in March, he found himself on the canvas early on versus Julio Sarinara. He eventually rallied to stop Sarinara in the sixth and final round to capture his ninth victory.
Gonzalez, who faces Erick Orozco this Friday evening at the same venue, said of his unexpected trip to the canvas, “I was pretty surprised. [Sarinara] was actually very tough. He came to give good excitement but, before coming up to the arena, my brother and I had actually talked about it, ‘If this happens, if that happens, if you get dropped, if you get cut…’ and so I was mentally prepared but, at the same time, I was very surprised.”
In the fourth round of that contest, an accidental clash of head cut Gonzalez over his left eye. Yes, Gonzalez, now, 10-0 (9), learned a valuable lesson on this particular night.
“Yes, absolutely,” said Gonzalez from the Azteca Boxing Club on Monday morning, explaining that he learned ”to not be overconfident. I was taking a step back; I dropped my hands and I got caught. So yeah, it’s definitely a learning experience.” And the good-natured Gonzalez understands it’s part of the rite of passage all young fighters must undergo. “It was my first time fighting six rounds; I stopped [Sarinara] in the sixth round, so it was my first time fighting that many rounds. I got dropped; I got cut for the first time, so it was a night to remember.”
He laughs as he says this. Gonzalez understand this can be a rough vocation.
“Exactly, because we would talk about it that, one day, I was going to get cut. One day, I would get dropped – we just never thought it would happen all in one night,” he said with a chuckle. In all honesty, the fight back in March wasn’t supposed to be THAT tough. Ricky Mota, who manages Gonzalez, admitted this much as he saw his client hit the canvas, “I was shocked, a little nervous but then, he got up and, listen, these are the fights you learn from. That kid that he had fought, the fight before, [Sarinara] had just fought the kid from Top Rank, Erick De Leon, and I was there and [De Leon] gave him hell in Phoenix.”
But what was learned is Gonzalez did have a fighter’s temperament as adversity reared its head. Mota points out, “These are the fights where you learn from.”
Gonzalez turned pro after a very short amateur career, explaining, “I only did 18 amateur fights. I never really liked the amateur style. I never really liked it, never was a big fan of it. So, at 17, I was like, ‘Y’ know what? Let’s turn pro already.’ So we turned pro at a very young age.”
And, thus far, no regrets at all.
“We couldn’t have gone any other better way,” he says. “Where we’re at right now is just great.”
“There’s no rush with Chimpa. He’s young; just take it one step at a time. It’s just a learning process. There’s absolutely no rush with Chimpa,” said Mota, who first saw Gonzalez at the gym a few years ago and signed him after his first few fights in Tijuana. For the time being, they will keep him as active as possible as he learns on the job. Mota explained, ”Talking to [Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker] Robert Diaz, we’re going to just gradually see if he keeps improving fight by fight and see if he takes the next step. But, so far, we’re just taking it one fight at a time.”
Diaz tells UCNLive.com, “Chimpa is going to be fun to develop because, one, we have one thing that favors us – he’s young. He’s only 19 years old. There’s time for him to gain experience and develop. What you can’t teach, he has and we saw it in the first fight when he was dropped in the first fight and cut, yet got up. He showed a lot of heart. He does have power but all those knockouts, early on, I erase that in my mind. That’s his amateur experience. But he does have some kind of power, still young, learning, but it’s going to be fun because he’s a kid, where you see his personality. He’s very upbeat; he’s a kid who wants to learn. He knows there’s a long ways to go but it’s something you can’t teach – balls and heart.”
For Diaz, Chimpa is reminiscent of another past boxer, basically developed from scratch to prominence.
“He reminds me a lot of when I signed Omar Figueroa. We took so much criticism because of a bad amateur background, ‘Why would you sign him?’ but there was something in the kid, the raw power. You can’t teach that,” said Diaz, who believe “Chimpa is going to be a kid that’s going to be very popular in L.A. as long as he stays dedicated in training.”
For now, that shouldn’t be an issue as he still has a fresh perspective on the sport. He actually enjoys the everyday grind. “Oh, absolutely. I’m very young. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. I’m excited to get the day started and I come to the gym always ready to give 110 percent.”
As you see Gonzalez, you realize he needs plenty of spit and polish. Regardless, this is what he’s vowed to do: Punch for pay. The graduate of Buena Park High is now attending the School of Hard Knocks as he commits to his profession.
“As of right now, we’re going all in but I tell my dad, ‘I think you know yourself when you’re a good 23, 24. You know if this is for you’ and, like, I tell him, ‘If I’m 22, 23 and I see that this just isn’t for me, we’ll just have to go get my backpack and start going to school.”
We are taking Labor Day (Monday) off, so this week’s edition of “The Next Round” previews the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Andre Berto pay-per-view card.
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