‘L.A. Fight Club’: Redemption, victory and growth
Tonight’s “L.A. Fight Club” card features three young homegrown Mexican-American fighters looking to redeem, conquer and grow their potential at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles, California. At a media workout on Wednesday, all three Golden Boy Promotions prospects spoke with UCNLive.com before their televised tripleheader, on Estrella TV (10:00 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) and streaming on RingTV.com.
In the main event, Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez, 17-1 (15), looks to get his second win, in as many months, in a year that started with a brutal knockout loss in March.
“I went in there with a clear head and positive mindset,” Gonzalez said about his return bout last August – a third round knockout of Daniel Perales in the same venue. “I came out with no nerves and it was just like any other fight. I was very well-prepared and, even in the loss, I was well prepared but this is boxing – I got caught.”
A heavy-handed 21-year old lightweight, Gonzalez had a rude awakening against Romero Duno and it left those watching worried. Coming out aggressive in a step-up fight, Gonzalez never really recovered from a knockdown brought by Duno’s counter right hand at the end of the first. After not changing his strategy in the second, it didn’t take long for Duno to beat him to the punch again with a knockdown, as Chimpa crashed the canvas hard again, once getting up on the wobbliest of legs. “After the first knockdown, I was there but my legs weren’t,” he recalled. “My dad wanted to stop the fight and I told him no. It’s just an instinct that I have in me – to fight.”
Gonzalez had to be stretchered out of the ring in front of a home crowd that regularly catches him at the theater in downtown L.A., and it was certainly a night anyone there would never forget.
“I was bummed out, of course,” Gonzalez said when asked what went through his mind in the immediate aftermath. “I was bummed out for a good minute. Afterward, I got a lot of support from family, friends and a lot of champions: Oscar Valdez, Victor Ortiz, John Molina, (David) Rodela – a lot of people reached out and they told me to keep my head up. Things happen. Only the one that does not step in the ring is not entitled to win or lose. We took it on the bright side. Just learn from it and move on.”
Former WBC junior lightweight titlist Gamaliel Diaz, 40-17-3 (19), is his opponent tonight, and while the 36-year-old Mexican veteran is well past his prime and entering the bout having lost six of seven, Gonzalez is still looking to reclaim his confidence and that of those watching him.
“Just being well prepared,” Gonzalez said on what he has to do. “I’m excited to get back in the ring. I know this guy has a lot of experience, so it’s gonna be experience versus youth and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
In the co-feature, Edgar “Kid Neza” Valerio, 11-0 (6), a lean featherweight boxer-puncher with an unmistakable rat-tail, feels he’s getting better as he gains more experience and looks to prove that against Martin Cardona.
“There’s always the thoughts, the feelings, the urge of wanting to know the future,” Valerio, 23, pondered. “I’m not a guru or a psychic. In order to find out, the only way is that you have to live through it and you have to live by its conditions. The only thing I can say is that I prepared physically to go in there and give it my all. I don’t believe in failure and I don’t believe in giving up. If God’s will is for me to succeed and be able to fulfill what I worked for, then it shall be done.”
Valerio, who was born-and-raised in Los Angeles, is coming off a thrilling win in July, in which he exchanged knockdowns in the same round with Jairo Ochoa. Winning on a decision in his first eight-rounder, Valerio had already sent Ochoa to the canvas in the first round but was caught with his hands down in the second. Just seconds later, Valerio responded with a knockdown of his own that led to a brawl, in what is certainly the most memorable round of his young career. Valerio left no questions in the end, especially after forcing a cut on Ochoa, in the final round, from a punch.
“A real man doesn’t stay down,” Valerio recalled. “You get up and dust off the blood and tears and you gotta get up. This is boxing – anybody can fall – anybody can get knocked out. Reality is reality; you cannot do anything about that. All you can do is get back up; face the truth and fight on. Fight for what you desire to live for. Some people fight for money and fame; I don’t fight for none of that. I fight because I just want to live my life. I don’t know what I’m destined to be; I’m just doing it. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve learned that it does no good to have regret or to have any harm in your consciousness against anyone – even my opponent when he dropped me – I dropped his ass too. It’s just a matter of learning and progressing and I hope I don’t commit a mistake again to touch the floor.”
Cardona, 22-8 (14), is a well-traveled 26-year-old from Jalisco, Mexico and Valerio knows who he’s up against.
“Well, one of my thoughts coming into this fight is that I’m fighting a guy who is awkward,” said Valerio. “His style is very awkward – he tends to do certain movements, throws punches from certain perspectives and positions. He tends to fight very weird but, overall, I know that his is my profession. It’s like what Sugar Ray Leonard once said, ‘I fought every guy and, in order for someone to become an elite fighter and distinguish himself from the bunch, you have to take certain risks and you have to make a commitment to proceed.’ I’m not underestimating this guy – not for is awkwardness or how weird he boxes – but I’m going in there to commit, to determine, to dethrone, to devastate this guy.”
Opening the telecast, Jousce “Tito” Gonzalez, 5-0 (5), is at an earlier stage in his career but since making his pro debut in April 2016, the 22-year old has impressed by knocking out every single one of his opponents in the first round, none of which where technicalities either.
“I don’t know much about my opponent, to be honest,” said Gonzalez about Ricardo Fernandez, 3-6-4. “All I know is the weight was changed earlier this week to two more pounds: 134. I normally fight at 130 but the weight is not a big deal to me. I come to fight. It doesn’t matter – I’m ready.”
Gonzalez comes from a boxing family who trains out of the Azusa Boxing Club but, at home in Glendora, California, the next town over, the atmosphere doesn’t change all that much. His older brother Joet, who is also a Golden Boy Promotions prospect, has set an impressive precedent for the Gonzalez namesake in boxing and, with a younger sister and brother currently training to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, Jousce sees his household as a blessing.
“It’s a lot easier because we can relate as brothers and sisters and fighters. I’m blessed for it,” he said. With all four of them highly regarded for the their talent, Jousce was asked if it’s something in their blood or simply hard work and he replied, “I believe it’s somewhat of both. Hard work and natural. There’s a lot of motivation that goes on with my family. We fight for each other. We fight for us. We feel like family is everything. We see one person doing well, another doing not so well and we want to help them do better.”
His start couldn’t be drawn out any better and it’s amazing to think he hasn’t even sat on a stool yet five fights into his career but Jousce isn’t fixated on trying to keep the streak alive.
“I want to get more ring experience,” he said. “Get a little bit more rounds in, whether it’s leveling up the competition or me just taking my time. I want to show everyone that I can do it all. I don’t only hit hard; I can also box and use my technique. There’s more to my game than just hitting hard and I want to show that.”