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Thursday, June 5, 2014
Jhonson, Gonzalez to celebrate on FNF

By Bernardo Pilatti
ESPNDeportes.com


On the same day in which they both will mark their 33rd birthday, Yudel Jhonson of Cuba and Mexico's Norberto Gonzalez promise an all-out war in celebration in the main event of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."

The 10-round junior middleweight bout, promoted by Mike Tyson's Iron Mike Productions, will take place at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York (ESPN2, 10:30 p.m. ET).

In a bout that renews a clash of schools (Cuba vs. Mexico), with both fighters looking to inch closer to a coveted title shot, the fighter to follow closely is Jhonson (15-1, 9 KOs), a 2004 Olympic silver medalist.

Jhonson is fresh off an eight-round unanimous-decision win over Lenwood Dozier in April, in which he knocked his opponent to the canvas in the first round. It was a good return win for the Cuban fighter after a year-long layoff. However, Jhonson knows that this time he'll be facing a more dangerous opponent.

"Norberto Gonzalez is a good fighter, and I really respect him," said Jhonson, before revealing that "with my new trainer Stacy McKinley, I have greatly improved my explosiveness, and with it I'll tilt the bout in my favor. I've been training really hard, and I can't wait to show it on June 6."

Gonzalez (20-3, 13 KOs), a former Mexican amateur national champion with extensive amateur international experience, returned to the ring in February 2013 after nearly three years of inactivity. He recorded consecutive victories over Miguel Angel Mares and Michael Oliveira before dropping a split decision to Roberto Garcia in February.

Jhonson has prepared for this fight during four months at the Iron Mike Tyson Gym in Deerfield Beach, Florida, along with other leading Cuban fighters including Yuriorkis Gamboa and Humberto Savigne.

Against Gonzalez, Jhonson will have his first real test since suffering his lone professional defeat to Willie Nelson in 2012. The task won't be easy, as Jhonson will be facing a tough, aggressive opponent who is able to endure punishment as much as he provides it.

To defeat Gonzalez, Jhonson will need to use his legs and technical advantages to keep his opponent off balance. Jhonson will likely find himself in there with a boxer similar in style to that of Colombian Richard Gutierrez, whom he knocked out in 2011.

Gonzalez will look to stay aggressive and apply pressure, to which Jhonson will respond with lateral movement and countershots from multiple angles. Gonzalez throws good combinations from distance but becomes vulnerable when he doesn't take the lead.

There's little doubt the fight offers the promise of action as both fighters celebrate their birthday. Jhonson remains a slight favorite, although Gonzalez could be a candidate to surprise.

In the co-main bout, welterweights Sammy Vazquez (14-0, 10 KOs) and veteran Jay Krupp (17-6, 8 KOs) will meet in an eight-round bout.