KNOCKOUT ARTIST JHONNY GONZALEZ — His name resulted from a misspelling on his birth certificate, relatively few know about his career, and you need to dig in the ratings to find his name (he is ranked No. 6 by the WBC), but Jhonny González Vera is a three-time former world champion in two weight classes, having held the WBO bantamweight title from 2005 to 2007, and the WBC featherweight title twice from 2011 to 2015. He also held the IBO featherweight title from 2010 to 2011. Jhonny’s credentials are as genuine as a Julio Cesar Chavez Senior’s left hook to the liver.
Gonzalez defended his WBC International super featherweight belt against streaking Francisco Contreras (30-5, 23 KOs) recently in Juarez, Mexico and totally dismantled “The Dominican Boy” in three progressively destructive rounds bringing his old school record to 63-10 with 53 — yes 53! — KOs.
Not unlike many of Jhonny’s victims, Contreras remained on the canvas for an alarmingly long time writhing in pain while slow moving ringside officials performed a number of strange, if not bizarre, examinations on his body (check out the YouTube). Meanwhile, the ring girls were strutting their stuff, Jhonny was on the corner ropes celebrating his win, and the crowd was roaring, giving the entire proceedings a campy flavor. This has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
Gonzalez later said, “We dropped him with a punch to the head. Once we knew he was going to protect himself on top that is when we attacked him to the body. He was going to be vulnerable there. He was not going to take those punches.”
The 35-year-old Gonzalez who resides in Mexico City is more than ready to make another run at a world title. He is currently on a 5-fight win streak.
Jhonny lost his very first two fights way back in 1999 and then, in 2002, lost twice to future world champion Ricardo Vargas (who drew with Johnny Tapia in 1995) before running off 19 straight wins, 16 of which came by KO.
In a 2007 championship bout, Gonzalez was on the wrong end of one of the most dramatic one-punch body shot knockouts in boxing history in a fight that at the time he was winning handily. Gerry Penalosa, the crafty Pinoy, put everything he had into it as it landed just above the ribs. The stunned Mexican warrior turned around for maybe a second and then dropped to the canvas in pain and was counted out.
Fan-friendly, experienced, and a relaxed and crafty ring clinician somewhat similar to Jorge Linares but not as quick, Jhonny brings Randall Bailey-type power into every fight and that means he’s dangerous until the final second of the last round. He is the quintessential boxer-puncher. If he moves up to super featherweight or stays at featherweight, the possibilities seem mouthwatering.
Abner Mares has bounced back nicely from his shocking first round dismantling at the hands of Jhonny in 2013. Mares shocked talented Argentinian Jesus Andres Cuellar (28-1 coming in) this past December to win the WBA world featherweight title. A rematch with Gonzalez at an appropriate weight offers redemption for Mares and affirmation for Gonzalez.
Conversely, a rematch with Jonathan Oquendo (26-5) who upset Jhonny in 2015 and who most recently lost to Cuellar offers Jhonny an opportunity for redemption.
The always dangerous and exciting Juan Manuel Lopez (35-5) is still around and though he was slaughtered by Cuellar in September 2014, he came back to stop Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. late last year.
Cuellar’s name clearly is the common denominator. But a match with the dangerous “El Forastero” might not provide the best payday, i.e., risk-reward. The same holds true for Oquendo. Thus, a Mares rematch emerges front and center. Takashi Miura (31-3-2) and Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt (31-1) are two others that loom.
The fearsome Berchelt is scheduled to defend his WBC 130-pound title against the veteran Miura this June. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman reportedly told Gonzalez he is a possibility to face the winner.
A tune-up match also might be in the offing allowing Gonzalez to keep doing his thing and that means to keep fighting and to keep winning. Does he have a shot at the IBHOF down the road? A slim one but that could change if he were to pull off some big wins in this the twilight of his career. However, as long as two-time world champion and fellow Mexican Jose Luis Ramirez (102-9) remains a non-inductee, Jhonny’s chances are closer to slim than not.
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Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records in the Grand Master class. A member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he enjoys writing about boxing.