Gonzalez squares off with Garcia on FNF

February, 6, 2014
2/06/14
11:08
AM ET
Mexico's Norberto Gonzalez had been training hard to face undefeated Jonathan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico until the latter injured his left shoulder in sparring and was forced to withdraw from the bout.

The injury opened the door for countryman Roberto Garcia to step in on late notice to face Norberto Gonzalez in a 10-round middleweight bout headlining a "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2, 9 ET) from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

Garcia (33-3, 22 KOs), 33, is a high-risk opponent for Gonzalez, even though he took the fight with less than two weeks' notice.

"Many people are surprised I've taken this fight with a 12-day notice, but I'm 100 percent fit," Garcia said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have accepted."

Garcia enters the bout having lost just once in the last 10 years -- a unanimous-decision defeat to Antonio Margarito in May 2010. In 2013, Garcia extended his current unbeaten run to five straight, which includes a 2012 decision win over Antwone Smith.

He is convinced he can win against Gonzalez.

"I can keep up the power throughout the bout, I'm a 12-round fighter and the fact that this is a 10-round fight makes me happy," said Garcia, who did not hesitate to acknowledge a greater inspiration at this stage of his career. "Getting this fight has been a big boost because it comes at a great time. Since I became a father I'm working harder. My daughter motivates me to be better."

For Gonzalez, 32, this will be his fourth appearance in the United States, where he didn't have a great introduction. In 2009, he dropped a decision in his own meeting with Smith and lost again on American soil one year later against Mark Jason Melligen.

After the loss to Melligen, Gonzalez had a nearly three-year layoff. He has rebounded with two straight wins, including a unanimous-decision victory over Brazilian Michael Oliveira in November when Gonzalez overcame a knockdown in the second round.

Luis Fernando Zapari, Gonzalez's trainer, said his fighter "has been training for this fight for the last two months in Monterrey, Mexico. He has worked hard and has done very well."

Gonzalez (20-2, 13 KOs) is an aggressive fighter who can be inconsistent at times and likes to put on pressure early in the fight. He's fairly quick with a good jab, and likes to throw combinations up the middle.

Garcia is a more technical fighter, though not as fast as Gonzalez. This is why he has been prone to get caught by counter shots. He has a high guard and often varies his rhythm so he can adjust to different opponents.

In the eight-round featherweight co-feature, Kamil Laszczyk (15-0, 7 KOs) of Poland faces Daniel Diaz (20-5-1, 14 KOs) of Nicaragua.

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