Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Clive Atwell: Preview and Prediction for Featherweight Bout
Jhonny Gonzalez, coming off his stunning upset over Abner Mares, returns to the ring on Saturday night, defending his WBC Featherweight Championship against the virtually unknown Clive Atwell in Mexico.
Gonzalez was left for dead, considered by most to be long past his best, before blasting Mares inside of a round last August. A rematch fell through due to a Mares injury, and instead he’ll take part in what amounts to a homecoming stay-busy fight.
Atwell is undefeated, but he’s never fought outside of his native Guyana. He’s currently ranked the No. 12 contender by the WBC, and an upset would be an absolute stunner.
Read on for our complete preview and prediction for Gonzalez vs. Atwell for the WBC Featherweight Championship.
Tale of the Tape
All stats and information per BoxRec.com.
Gonzalez was left on the scrap heap, presumed done after being dropped and losing a technical decision to Daniel Ponce De Leon in a featherweight title bout in 2012. Most observers felt that his ring age was much higher than his actual age, owing to the many in-ring wars he’s survived.
Few, if any, gave him much of a chance when he signed on to fight Mares—then undefeated and seemingly rising up the pound-for-pound ranks—last August. The fight seemed to be a showcase against a name opponent, but Gonzalez wasn’t having any of that.
He blasted Mares in Round 1, using his massive punching power to implode the champion’s chin, stop him and recapture a featherweight title. It was sudden and shocking. An immediate rematch was planned but recently cancelled for the time being, leaving Gonzalez in this low-profile affair while he awaits another significant opponent.
Atwell is one of those fighters who pretty much literally comes out of right field and finds himself in a title fight. Not a whole lot is known about him—he’s never fought outside the confines of Guyana—and you’d have to view him as nothing short of a massive underdog.
The 25-year-old is undefeated, but he hasn’t fought a single opponent of note. He’s being given the chance of a lifetime—somehow the WBC ranks him the No. 12 featherweight contender in the world—but he’s shown nothing that says he’s ready for this stage.
Gonzalez is a devastating power puncher. Don’t believe that? Just ask Mares, the defending champion many felt would soon crack the top 10 pound-for-pound, who got shellacked inside the first three minutes, nearly having his head taken off his shoulders.
He’s extremely physically strong and shoots punches with tremendous force with both hands. With 47 of his 55 career victories coming inside the distance, you can’t sleep on his power or it’ll put you to sleep.
Gonzalez has been fighting at a world-class level for as long as you can remember, and the experience gap in this fight is massive. You could drive a long-haul truck right through it. Seriously, the fact that the WBC sanctioned this as a world-title fight is ridiculous.
Atwell just doesn’t give you much to really go on. Not a ton is known about him, there isn’t much tape to look at and you can’t help but think he’s well out of his depth here.
From what we can see, Atwell is extremely confident in his abilities. He has OK but not spectacular power and good speed. He moves around the ring pretty well, but it’s really hard to assess whether any of these characteristics are a function of his skills or largely subpar opposition.
Gonzalez saw his punching power do the trick against Mares, and he shouldn’t find himself in too much trouble against Atwell, but he’s still older—in terms of his ring age—than his 32 years on this planet would indicate.
He’s been through many wars in his professional career, now spanning 15 years and 63 professional fights. It didn’t show against Mares, there wasn’t really the time, but he hasn’t looked quite as sharp in his most recent fights, indicating that he might be heading for shopworn territory.
Atwell, let’s call it straight, has absolutely no business challenging for a world title. He’s only fought professionally 13 times and 11 of those came against foes with losing records. He hasn’t fought a single foe—no, 17-5-2 former world-title challenger Rafael Hernandez doesn’t count—who even sniffs world class.
It would be an absolute stunner if he was competitive, much less won the fight. He just doesn’t have the experience against anyone that would prove he belongs here.
Jhonny Gonzalez Will Win If...
Gonzalez will win this fight as long as he shows up to the arena in time, with his trunks and gloves, and doesn’t suddenly forget that he’s a professional prizefighter.
That may seem like a bit of hyperbole, but it’s not as far off the mark as you may think.
This fight has every indication of being little more than an exhibition designed to keep a fighter busy while awaiting a more significant fight. Atwell has shown no indication that he’ll be able to compete on this level—he’ll be fighting away from home in front of a hostile crowd for the first time—and should present few difficulties.
It’s truly puzzling how the WBC could tell the fans that this qualifies as a legitimate world-title fight. It’s a showcase for a champion in front of his hometown fans. And that’s fine, but call it true.
Gonzalez just needs to do what he does well. He needs to pressure his foe, uncork big shots early and see how well his opponent takes them.
If, as we expect, the answer to that question is "not well," it could be an early night.
Clive Atwell Will Win If...
Atwell will win this fight if Gonzalez comes into the ring completely shot, totally underestimates him or suddenly decides that pugilism is not for him.
The Guyanese fighter seems to be out of his depth. There’s a reason why 25-year-old fighters, with only 13 professional fights against nondescript opposition, don’t challenge seasoned veterans like Gonzalez. It usually doesn’t end well.
Atwell’s best shot in this fight is if Gonzalez has gotten really old, really fast, overnight. He’ll need to attack the body, stay away from the Mexican champion’s massive punching power and turn this into a boxing match.
Still, at some point, he’ll need to land something that discourages Gonzalez from coming forward and pressuring. Not much is known about him, so that alone means it’s possible that he could be a diamond in the rough, but it would be a real surprise for him to find a way to win here.
And the Winner Will Be...
Gonzalez will win this fight, and it won’t be all that difficult.
This is obviously not the fight he was hoping for, but he’s a professional, and he won’t underestimate Atwell and give him any opportunities to get confidence and get into the fight.
We understate the problem by quite a bit when we say that making the jump from the Revlon Lake’s and Rudolph Fraser’s of the world to Gonzalez is too much too quick.
Atwell will very quickly find himself in the deep end of the pool. He’s never competed at or near this level of boxing, and he’ll find himself far from home in a hostile environment for the first time as a professional.
He may well turn out to be a better fighter than we expect, but this fight is just much more than he can chew.
Gonzalez attacks early, drops Atwell in the first third of the fight and stops him in Round 5.
Prediction: Gonzalez TKO 5 Atwell