It's been nine months since Jhonny Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KO) scored a stunning KO win over Abner Mares to capture the WBC featherweight title. Gonzalez will step back into the ring on Saturday against little-known Guyanese fighter Clive "The Punisher" Atwell (12-0-1, 7 KO).
Not many are expecting this to be a tough battle for Gonzalez, but boxing savants and/or hardcore fans of both fighters will be interested in the bout nonetheless.
Here's the viewing information.
When: Saturday, May 24 at 11 p.m. ET
Where: Acapulco, Mexico
TV: Fox Deportes
The Book on Gonzalez
It seems that challengers are lining up by the day for a shot at Gonzalez. English contender Lee Selby is interested in challenging for Gonzalez's title. Mares was set to take on Gonzalez in a rematch, but the fight was called off after Mares suffered a rib injury.
The postponement of Gonzalez-Mares 2 is what has created the champion's long layoff. Upon learning that the rematch with Mares was cancelled, Gonzalez was understanding.
He said this, per Lem Satterfield of The Ring Magazine:
"I'm disappointed of course, but I know that these things happen in boxing, and I wish Abner a speedy recovery. We both know that we'll meet again, and when we do, we'll give the fans a fight to remember."
Because ring rust could be a factor, Gonzalez's team could have felt that it made more sense to get its fighter in the ring with someone sooner than later.
With potentially big-money fights looming, Gonzalez would probably prefer to be rusty against Atwell than Mares, Selby or another more notable contender.
It's hard to argue with that train of thought.
Things have shifted drastically for Gonzalez since he stopped Mares.
B/R's own Kevin McRae says:
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.
Gonzalez's career has done a complete 180, and now his name is on the lips of almost every hungry featherweight.
As Gonzalez prepares for another potential war down the road, he'll be trying to keep his meeting with Atwell at a mere skirmish.
The Book on Atwell
If you've heard of Atwell, you're either a connoisseur of Guyanese boxing, a member of the 25-year-old's family or a bigger boxing nerd than I am.
It took a lot of YouTube and Daily Motion surfing to find any in-ring action of him. From what can be deduced from the few fights available online, Atwell looks to be a pretty good technical boxer.
His opponents have left a lot to be desired, so it is hard to know where to place Atwell's skill level. He has had just 13 professional fights in his career.
This fight will be his first outside of Guyana, so it remains to be seen how well he will react to fighting in a foreign land and in front of an almost exclusively pro-Gonzalez crowd.
More than anything, a lack of experience will be the biggest impediment he has to overcome.
The champion is a grizzled veteran with a wealth of experience. It'll be tough to pull off a victory against a fighter like Gonzalez in Mexico.
Barring a stunning KO that rocks Mexico to its core, there's almost no way Atwell wins this fight. He's likely being paid as much for this fight as he's made in his previous 13 bouts combined.
He'd be smart to give it his best but to take the loss as a learning experience and hope to get back to this level in a more winnable situation.
Gonzalez should win by mid-round TKO.
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