Christian ‘Chimpa’ Gonzalez looks to bounce back at the Belasco Theater
The last time Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez was scheduled to go, his fight was supposed to serve as a graduation of sorts for the hard-hitting lightweight from Buena Park, California.
With Golden Boy Promotions now having ESPN dates, his bout against the unknown Romero Duno, last March, was looked upon as his most recent outing at the Belasco Theater, in Los Angeles, where he had performed consistently on the “L.A. Fight Club,” since 2015.
Instead the Filipino shocked Gonzalez (and everyone else) by stunning and flooring the favored fighter in the first, then finishing him in the second.
That said, Gonzalez is now back for another summer session at the Belasco Theater on Thursday night.
For the good-natured Gonzalez, 16-1 (14), it is a time to reflect on his recent blemish. “Most important, it’s a learning experience. I’m only 21 years old. I only did 18 amateur fights. The main key is to be more relaxed, go with the flow. We knew, going in, that (Duno) was a power-puncher and I just need to relax a little more. That’s something we have to pick up from that fight, to be a little more relaxed.”
Gonzalez pressed the action from the very bell versus Duno – and perhaps too much, for his own good, he believes – which led him to sacrifice his defensive responsibilities.
“I never seen the punch coming; it happened so fast,” he admitted to UCNLive.com, “and I was always conscious of my surroundings and my legs weren’t working. But yes, I was conscious. When I got to the corner, my dad told me, ‘I’m going to stop the fight,’ and I’m like, ‘No, I’m fine. I know he dropped me but I’m OK.’ So he let me continue and, yeah, like I said, I couldn’t recuperate at 100 percent but, yeah, the second right hand, the overhand right was just the finishing touch.”
For Chimpa’s brain trust, it was a stunning development. Like their fighter, they never saw it coming.
“We’re back to the drawing board. It was a horrible night, tough loss,” said Ricky Mota, Gonzalez’s manager. “We let time go by and we got together and got a game plan. We have a great promoter in Golden Boy and we’re going to take it from here and rebuild. We want to get him back in action and get over this nightmare that he had.”
Mota is philosphical about the defeat, “At first, it was hard but, now, you let time go by and you see him in camp and you really believe it is a bump in the road. I still have very high hopes and he’s working hard. He’s in great shape. Things happen for a reason and I really do believe this kid is special.”
Now, Mota and Golden Boy Promotions embark on the rebuilding process with Chimpa.
“That’s the funnest part, to be honest – not to see your kids get beat, of course, but the comeback,” said GBP matchmaker Robert Diaz. “When everything’s going well, anyone can do it. Put him in safe, safe, safe, safe, now he falls, slips, gets up – that’s where you really see the team effort. That’s when you really see who’s behind you. That’s who you see who your friends are. That’s when you see what you’re really made of and now it’s ‘Let’s grow. We slipped together. We grow together. We get back up together.’
“He’s very young. We had a meeting right after and it’s like, ‘OK, lets shake this off’ and Chimpa, I still believe, has the potential to be a world champion soon and it’s just a matter of dusting it off and seeing what went wrong. If it was the opponent, we’ll know in few more fights between them and if it’s something he didn’t do right, like he didn’t do that extra mile run or if he was cutting corners. He knows how to fix it.”
To his credit, Duno seems to be a prospect in his own right. After the fight, Golden Boy signed him to a promotional pact.
Diaz continued, “If it was the wrong guy for you, OK; it’s good that we found out now. Let’s start building up to it because, when we build up for the world title, I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh, it’s the wrong champion that you fought.’ I want (Gonzalez) to be ready to win the world title.”
What’s going for Gonzalez is his age (21) and, in the grand scheme of things, getting zapped early beats taking a prolonged beating. “He’s young enough. He’s smart enough. He’s good enough that it was just a little setback. Obviously, this first fight back is important to get his confidence back, more than anything,” said Diaz, who has paired Gonzalez with Daniel Perales, 10-10-1 (5). “He’s going to fight a veteran that might not have the prettiest record but it’s not about that. It’s about Chimpa and getting him back on the winning track.”
Back on July 15 at the Forum, Miguel Berchelt defended his WBA 130-pound title against Takashi Miura. It wasn’t that long ago when Berchelt got stopped in one as a prospect.
“Someone did mention it to me, actually,” said Gonzalez, who says he got a plenty of positive reinforcement from fellow prizefighters in the wake of his loss. “Victor Ortiz called me, (WBO featherweight titlist) Oscar Valdez, John Molina (Jr.); a lot of fighters told me to keep my head up, that things happen in boxing. I got caught and they told me this isn’t the end of the world. That it’s a minor setback and to come back stronger.”
And Diaz himself is no stranger to picking up the pieces of a shattered career, having been the architect of WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares’ resurgence from unexpected KO losses.
“If you remember, he was written off. He’s done. He’s fragile. He gets cut. He can’t take a punch and, today, people are saying he’s one of the top champions in boxing,” states Diaz. “So I’ve seen it. I’ve heard it. People criticize, ‘The matchmaker made a mistake.’ When you win, the fighter’s great; he’s unbeatable. When he loses, it’s the trainer, the manager, the matchmaker, the promoter. ‘It’s too soon.’ Look, I I want to send a message: You’re fighting on the main event. You’re fighting for a title – it’s a fight. It’s a real fight. And if you slip and fall, guess what? You learn from that mistake and it won’t happen again.”
Gonzalez, whose passion for the sport is obvious, was well-rested, as he got back into camp for this fight. When coming off a loss of this nature, less is more.
“Six weeks, I did absolutely nothing,” he said. “I didn’t run. I didn’t train. I did absolutely nothing. I enjoyed myself.”
Mota believes his fighter will be OK, “He understands this is the hurt game. We got caught but he’s going to learn. We got knocked out by a puncher but I feel things happen for a reason and we’re going to rebuild him. His state of mind is very well and he’s good. I saw him train yesterday and I like what I saw. He has an identity of who he is – he hasn’t lost his identity.”
The main event on Thursday at the Belasco Theater is Charles Huerta-Miguel Angel Gonzalez, which will be streamed, as always, on RingTV.com…Next Tuesday in Tucson, Arizona, Top Rank is staging a press conference to formally announce its September 22 show, from the Tucson Arena, featuring Oscar Valdez and WBO super middleweight titleholder Gilberto Ramirez, which will be televised on ESPN…Look for Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis and Ryan “Kingry” Garcia to be part of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin undercard in Las Vegas in September…Yeah, ticket prices for Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor are plummeting rapidly. LOL…I’m binge-watching “Dead Mall of America” on YouTube. I’m just grateful that the Shops at Montebello is still thriving…Hold on; Abby has passed away on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”?! Say it ain’t so!…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.