At the age of nineteen and with only sixteen professional bouts under his belt, Jhonny (not Johnny, more on that later) Gonzalez was thrown into the ring against one of boxing’s craftiest fighters. Tijuana’s Ricardo “Chapo” Vargas had held his own against (and some thought bested) the likes of a prime Johnny Tapia. Gonzalez vs. Vargas, part one, was one of the most intense confrontations I’ve ever witnessed. Gonzalez lost by close decision to Vargas along with the subsequent rematch. He hasn’t lost since.

Now twenty-four and the WBO Bantamweight champion, Gonzalez (32-4, 28 KOs), will take on WBO Super Flyweight champion Fernando Montiel (32-1-1, 24 KOs), of Los Mochis, Sinaloa on May 27 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

“I learned a lot from the “Chapo” Vargas fight. I thought I was fighting a guy who had seen his better days and I underestimated him. It’s the worst thing you can do as a fighter. I think both fights could’ve gone either way,” remembers Gonzalez. Five years and sixteen consecutive wins later, Gonzalez has blazed a trail of impressive knockouts over credible opponents like then undefeated Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez, Gabriel Elizondo, William Gonzalez, Ratanachai Sor Vorapin in his title winning effort, and just recently stopped the once great Flyweight champion Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson.

The fights against Gabriel Elizondo and William Gonzalez were wild shootouts where both participants found themselves on the canvas. “Elizondo hit me with the hardest punch I’ve ever been hit with. The knockdown against William Gonzalez was a flash knockdown and I was out of balance,” said Jhonny. In each affair, Jhonny rose from the floor to knock out his opponents in exciting fashion in the second and third rounds respectively.

Although he tasted the canvas on both of those occasions, his toughest fight came against legendary Thai champion Sor Vorapin, who he defeated to win the WBO title with a seventh round TKO. “It was a hard fight on many levels. He was a very tough opponent but it was hard emotionally also. One of my trainers passed away a few days before the fight. It was very hard for the whole team. I was happy and sad at the same time. The title was very important to me. It was everything we’ve worked for since I was a kid,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez believes he was born to be a fighter. That it’s imprinted in his DNA. “My father and all my brothers were fighters. People told me as a kid that I always had a natural ability in me. They could see it in the way I moved.” While fighters may be born, real talent is endowed upon a chosen few. Gonzalez seems to have been blessed with all the right attributes. He’s a tall, rangy, hard hitter who can box with the likes of a wily “Chapo” Vargas. Gonzalez is now training in Mexico City’s high altitude to face another crafty Mexican in Fernando “Cochulito” Montiel.

Montiel is the WBO Superflyweight champion and moving up to face Gonzalez. Montiel is slick and fights pretty. He’s adept at landing fight-ending hooks to the midsection but Gonzalez feels he has all the advantages coming in. “I’m bigger, I have a longer reach and I punch harder. Once Montiel gets hit, he starts boxing and running. Eventually I’ll catch him. This will be a tactical fight. Whoever makes the least amount of errors will win.”

Gonzalez was raised amongst meager means in Mexico City and is finally feeling the rewards from his chosen profession. “Our family has always had just enough to get us through. I’m making more money now, thank god, but I have more left to do in this sport.” His progression has been impressive. The nineteen-year-old I saw at The Pechanga Casino waging a violent war against “Chapo” is no more. Gonzalez has evolved into a true professional and understands the importance of this fight. “That’s why we took the match. It’s a main event on HBO and against a great fighter like Montiel. You have to beat great fighters to ascend. A win against Montiel will take us to another level,” assured Gonzalez.

The next level means having to climb through some steep opposition since Gonzalez’s plan is to move up in weight. “There’s been talk of moving up to 122 pounds to face Israel Vazquez. I feel I can go all the way up to super-featherweight because of my height. The goal is to make history in the sport by winning as many titles as I can,” stated Gonzalez who stands about 5’8” and has a 71 inch reach. Definitely a tall bantamweight who slugs with authority and power reminiscent of Alexis Arguello.

And why the name Jhonny instead of the more traditional Johnny? “That was a spelling error by the people at the birth records office. By the time we found out about it we weren’t allowed to change it back so we just kept it. It doesn’t matter. On May 27th people are going to know my name and face. That’s what matters. That’s what’s important.”

Parting shots
“Monster” Mora returns to Pechanga
Heavyweight Javier “Monster” Mora (20-2-1) returns to the Pechanga Casino in Temecula, California on Wednesday May 24th against Fres Oquendo (25-3) after beating Kirk Johnson in his last outing. Mora has been a staple of the California boxing scene for years and is finally stepping up against big time competition. Also on tap for the Goossen-Tutor promoted event will be undefeated prospects Anthony and Andre Dirrell. The event will be televised on Fox Sports “Best Damn Sports Show”.

For Ralph Gonzalez’s monthly boxing newsletter go to