Dan Rafael: Jonathan Gonzalez

DeGale-Davis to get U.S. stream

November, 14, 2013
When super middleweight contender James DeGale (16-1, 11 KOs), a 2008 British Olympic gold medalist, faces Dyah Davis (22-3-1, 10 KOs), son of 1976 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr., on Saturday in Greenhithe, England, the fight will have a U.S. broadcast home.

ESPN has signed a deal for rights to stream the fight live in the United States on ESPN3.com, the network said. The stream will begin at 5 p.m. ET and will use the British call of the fight, which will air on Ch. 5 in Great Britain.

ESPN also acquired rights to stream another notable fight: On Dec. 6, cruiserweight titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (48-2-1, 34 KOs) of Poland and Italy's Giacobbe Fragomeni (30-3-2, 12 KOs), who briefly held a belt from late 2008 until mid-2009, will meet for the third time in a mandatory fight at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, where there is a large Polish community that has regularly turned out to support its fighters.

The stream for that card will begin at 9:30 p.m. ET and will also include the co-feature between light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (25-2, 14 KOs), a Poland native living in Chicago, against Samuel Miller (26-7, 23 KOs). Fonfara is closing in on a mandatory title shot at the belt held by Sergey Kovalev.

Wlodarczyk, making his sixth title defense, owns an eighth-round knockout victory against Fragomeni in a 2010 fight for the vacant belt and they also fought to a draw in 2009 (when Fragomeni held the title).

Bouts involving Chicago junior welterweight Adrian Granados (12-2-2, 8 KOs) and Puerto Rican junior middleweight Jonathan Gonzalez (16-0-1, 13 KOs) could also be part of the stream. Announcers Col. Bob Sheridan and Benny Ricardo will call the show.

A third fight could also be added to the ESPN3.com schedule. ESPN said it is in talks to pick up the rights to the junior middleweight bout between former champion Shane Mosley (47-8-1, 39 KOs) and former super middleweight titlist Anthony Mundine (44-5, 26 KOs) of Australia. The fight is scheduled for Nov. 27 in Sydney.

The bout was originally scheduled for Oct. 23 -- and ESPN had made a deal for American rights to the fight -- but it was postponed because of financial issues with the card before being rescheduled.

'Bomba' gets assist from Calderon

August, 2, 2013
Many young Puerto Rican fighters look up to former two-division champion Ivan “Iron Boy” Calderon, who won titles at strawweight and junior flyweight and was one of the most dominant fighters in the smaller weight classes during his 2001 to 2012 career.

Calderon (35-3-1, 6 KOs) was a 2000 Puerto Rican Olympian, one of the best defensive fighters in recent history and is a likely Hall of Famer.

One of those young fighters who reveres Calderon is 22-year-old flyweight prospect Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez (13-0, 11 KOs), who is taking a big step up in competition when he faces former junior flyweight champ Giovani Segura (29-3-1, 25 KOs) on Aug. 17 in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Now helping Gonzalez with his training camp? Calderon, who knows Segura well, since it was Segura who knocked him out in a blazing 2010 junior flyweight unification fight, and again in the less competitive 2011 rematch to hand him his first two defeats.

“I have been talking with Ivan a lot because he jogged on the same track where I worked,” Gonzalez said. “He has told me how to fight against Segura, and who [better] to say that to me than Ivan Calderon, who faced Segura two times.

“Ivan has advised me to be ready for the pressure Segura puts on in his fights, his punches to the stomach area and his long right hand.”

The two have shadowboxed together and sparred a few rounds with Calderon trying his best to simulate Segura’s pressure style to get Gonzalez to work on his counter punching.

“I told him that he has to have movement always because Segura likes to [apply] pressure,” Calderon said. “Bomba is in good shape and good condition as I can see during training. That is very important because Segura is a tough fighter.”

The card, which will be televised in Puerto Rico via DirecTV pay-per-view, also includes 2008 Dominican Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (13-0, 7 KOs) in a welterweight fight and 2004 Cuban Olympic silver medalist Yudel Jhonson (14-1, 9 KOs), who defected and turned pro in 2009, in a junior middleweight bout. Both of their opponents are still to be determined.

In another bout, Puerto Rican featherweight Jonathan Oquendo (22-3, 15 KOs) will face Brian Ramirez (10-4, 5 KOs) of Los Angeles in an eight-rounder.

Romero to defend belt on Aug. 17

July, 5, 2013
Junior featherweight titlist Jonathan Romero (23-0, 12 KOs) of Colombia, who outpointed Alejandro Lopez in February to win a 122-pound belt that Nonito Donaire vacated, will make his first defense Aug. 17 (HBO) at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. The opponent isn't set, but the leading candidate is Spain's Kiko Martinez (28-4, 20 KOs), a former European champion who is promoted by middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.

Whomever Romero faces, the fight will be the co-feature on the card headlined by middleweight titlist Daniel Geale (29-1, 15 KOs) of Australia, who will be making his American debut in a defense against England's Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KOs), whose only loss came by 11th-round knockout against Martinez in a 2011 championship fight in Atlantic City.

Welterweight prospect Thomas Dulorme (18-1, 13 KOs) of Puerto Rico will also be on the card, and his bout will be televised on HBO Latino. Dulorme was being lined up to face former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora (48-0-1, 19 KOs), who has been fighting at junior welterweight and welterweight for the past several years. However, according to HBO, after going far down the road on a deal, Spadafora ultimately rejected the fight. Dulorme's team is still searching for an opponent.

• Assuming Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. gets his visa issues worked out and his planned fight with Brian Vera goes on as planned at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, Top Rank and HBO are planning for Las Vegas welterweight Jesse Vargas (22-0, 9 KOs) to be in the televised co-feature. HBO and Top Rank want to match him with Luis Carlos Abregu (35-1, 28 KOs), but Vargas' team has so far balked at the match, according to Top Rank.

• Ryota Murata, the heralded 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist from Japan, will make his pro debut Aug. 25 in Tokyo. He'll face Akio Shibata (21-7-1, 9 KOs) in a scheduled six-rounder. Murata recently signed a co-promotional contract with Akihiko Honda's Teiken Boxing, the No. 1 promoter in Japan, and Top Rank, which will handle any of his bouts outside of Japan. Murata's gold medal was the first for a Japanese boxer in the Olympics since Takao Sakurai claimed one at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Murata is also the first Japanese fighter to win an Olympic medal in a division other than bantamweight or flyweight.

• Puerto Rican flyweight prospect Jonathan "Bomba" Gonzalez (13-0, 11 KOs) is stepping up his level of opposition in a major way. He will face former junior flyweight champion Giovani Segura (29-3-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico on Aug. 17 in a 10-rounder in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Promoter Peter Rivera said that the winner could face flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada, who will first defend against Milan Melindo on July 27 (HBO2) in Macau, China.

"Segura beat two times our champion Ivan Calderon, and the fight is a fight that Bomba always has told us he wanted since he started his professional career," Rivera said.

• Middleweight titlist/knockout artist Gennady Golovkin is steadily building his name and audience. According to Nielsen, Golovkin's vicious third-round body-shot knockout of Matthew Macklin on Saturday drew 1.1 million viewers, the biggest audience of GGG's three HBO fights. It was a 35 percent increase over his January undercard fight against Gabriel Rosado, which drew 813,000 viewers -- a nice increase over his HBO debut last year against Grzegorz Proksa, which drew 685,000 viewers for a main event. What it means is that Golovkin is clearly gaining an audience with each successive fight.

• British lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell (33-2, 24 KOs), 28, was blown out in his most recent fight, getting stopped in the fourth round by titleholder Ricky Burns in September. Mitchell will return Saturday in London against Sebastien Benito (10-6, 3 KOs) of France for what should be a routine destruction. The scheduled 10-rounder is designed to get Mitchell back in the ring so that he can shake off some rust and move back in the direction of another title shot.

"It's a great division, and I want to get back up there," Mitchell said. "Where do I see myself in it? I want to be a world champion. I'm not here to mess around and play games, be second best and get stopped in four rounds. I'm in it for the long haul and I want to beat the top boys. Anthony Crolla just beat Gavin Rees [last Saturday], and they both interest me, and I'll be keeping a close eye on the Derry Mathews and Tommy Coyle fight next week. There are some big British dust-ups out there, and I love those fights as much as the fans and TV do. I want to correct the loss against Ricky for the world title and become a world champion. I've been out of the ring for too long and it's time to get back in there. I feel a lot of relief, really, as I feel like I've got something to work."

FNF season begins Jan. 4

October, 31, 2012
It can't get here soon enough, but the new season of "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (and simulcast every week in Spanish on ESPN Deportes) will kick off on Jan. 4.

ESPN boxing programmer Doug Loughrey is in the process of putting together the early part of the schedule, but the season premiere will take place in Miami and be headlined by a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight bout between prospect Rances Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs), a Miami-based Cuban defector, against Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs), a native of Afghanistan based in Montreal.

The scheduled 10-round co-feature is slated to be junior middleweight Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) of Puerto Rico against Derrick Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia. Gonzalez is coming off a terrible performance in a terrible fight against former titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk in September, a fight for which Gonzalez showed up at 163 pounds -- nine pounds over the 154-pound contract limit.

The Jan. 11 show is still being put together, and there is no card on Jan. 18. The site for the Jan. 25 show will take place at a site that hasn't been finalized. It will be headlined by the always-exciting Russian junior welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs), an FNF regular for the past few years. His opponent hasn't been finalized, but one possibility is the Philippines' Jason Pagara (30-2, 19 KOs).

Still working on Golovkin foe

July, 13, 2012
Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin, anxious to strut his considerable stuff for an American television audience, was supposed to fight Dmitry Pirog, one of the best 160-pounders in the world, on Aug. 25 in an HBO main event. That was, however, until Pirog went down with a ruptured disk in his back last week, meaning he will be out for at least three months.

But the show will go on, and Golovkin's team and HBO are busy trying to put together a new fight for the 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan. Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, which promotes Golovkin, told me Thursday that there are two opponents under serious discussion, both of which would be approved by HBO.

" European middleweight titlist Grzegorz Proksa (28-1, 21 KOs), a 27-year-old Poland native living in England, who avenged his lone defeat by stopping Wales' Kerry Hope in the eighth round July 7 to regain the European belt on the Kell Brook-Carson Jones undercard in England. Hope had upset Proksa via majority decision in a major upset March 17.

" Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs), a 26-year-old 2004 U.S. Olympian who has been unable to finalize a significant fight. Martirosyan has been linked to various bouts that haven't come off, but recently was ordered to face Erislandy Lara in a junior middleweight title eliminator that would make the winner the mandatory challenger for titleholder Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, although that potential fight wouldn't happen until next year.

Martirosyan said he is willing to move up to middleweight to face Golovkin, 30.

"The Golovkin fight is a fight I would like," Martirosyan said. "Hope we can get it done."

Loeffler said Golovkin (23-0, 20 KOs) is willing to face Proksa or Martirosyan.

"We'll fight whichever guy HBO wants us to fight," Loeffler said. "We've always said we will fight anybody."

The Aug. 25 co-feature will match former junior middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs), 36, of Ukraine, against Puerto Rican prospect Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0, 13 KOs), who will turn 23 on July 26. The fight will be Dzinziruk's first since he moved up to middleweight in March 2011 to challenge lineal champion Sergio Martinez and was dropped five times in a one-sided eighth-round knockout loss.