Get Ready for “Flawless” Brandon Gonzales By Gabriel Montoya, from Maxboxing.com (Dec 28, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
2011 marks an important leg in the boxing journey of Sacramento resident and middleweight prospect Brandon “Flawless” Gonzales, 13-0 (10), as he moves from prospect to contender status. Born in Portland, Oregon on May 24, 1984, Gonzales and his family moved to the Bay Area when he was just a kid and settled in Sacramento, CA in his late teens. It was there in that once storied fight town that the second of two boys (his older brother, an MMA fighter, is in the Army, stationed in Texas) decided what he wanted to do with his life.
“I started at 19,” Gonzales told me from his training camp in Las Vegas, NV this week, where he is preparing for his fight against Lester Gonzalez, 11-1-1 (6), a week from Friday on Telefutura. “I had moved to Sacramento after I had finished high school. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life in terms of long-term goals. But the one thing that I knew I wanted to do was get into a boxing gym. My uncle Mike found the Capital Boxing Gym on Stockton Blvd. and that’s where I started.”
The Capital Boxing Gym was once home to Tony Lopez, Willie Jorrin and Loreto Garza and was where Gonzales met the boxing world. Amassing an amateur record of 56-7, the talented young fighter who got a late start in the sport won the 2004 Golden Gloves and was a finalist in the 2007 U.S. National Championships. But before he could try for a berth in the 2008 Olympic Games, Gonzales, who had just started a family of his own, decided the time was right to turn pro.
“It was kind of where I was at in life,” said Gonzales. “I was having a baby girl on the way. The people who were handling me at the time thought it would be best. The way the landscape was in Sacramento, there wasn’t anyone really doing anything on the professional level. We thought it would be a good idea to try and jumpstart things by turning professional and bring back boxing to Sacramento, which has always been a goal of mine.”
Without a promoter, Gonzales hired trainer Ray Woods, the stepfather of the late Diego Corrales, and turned pro in 2007. “Flawless” got off to a solid start, stopping his first five opponents until he hit a hiccup with a no-contest in September 2008 against Daniel Stanislavjevic, when his opponent suffered a cut in the first round off of a headbutt.
Three fights later, Gonzales would sign with Let’s Get it On Promotions, run by Terry and Tommy Lane, fighting under their banner for the first time in December of 2009. While he remained successful in the next three fights, Gonzales’ career had hit a point where it was time to step up and take his game to another level. What that meant was splitting with Woods, hiring Jeff Mayweather, and moving his training camps to Las Vegas.
“With Ray, I had hit a point where I wanted to start doing things like setting up training camps and leaving home to get the better sparring and have access to things that I have access to in Vegas, elevation in the hills and things of that nature,” explained Gonzales. “I just don’t think Ray was in a position to leave like I had put myself in a position to. We were going in different directions as far as how we wanted to proceed.”
Under Mayweather for his last fight of the year, Gonzales continued his winning ways, finishing 2010 at 4-0 with 2 KOs. With his new teacher and training at the Pound 4 Pound Gym in Vegas, Gonzales feels he is not only finding himself but in some ways, rediscovering himself.
“I’m still coming into my own,” he said. “I’m still finding myself as a professional fighter. This is Jeff [Mayweather’s] and my second fight together. I started knocking guys out early [in my career]. You get in the habit of that as you climb of the ranks. I have been taking a lot of guys out lately but I am slowly making the transition back to skills I had as an amateur. Boxing, hand speed, and, at the same time, being aggressive, going inside, and maintaining my power as well. I still am finding myself as a professional. With Jeff, we are working on a lot more boxing, using the jab, doing everything off the jab. Angles, hand speed, foot speed and breaking a guy then when he shows signs go in there and get him out of there.”
So far, the change to Vegas has been positive with Gonzales getting high-level sparring at the Pound 4 Pound as well as the nearby Floyd Mayweather gym. After one session this year, Mayweather Jr. himself was there to view the prospect and praised him as a top-level talent.
“I think it is ultimate compliment for someone to recognize not only the talent you have in the ring but the work ethic I have as well,” answered Gonzales, when I asked how it felt to get such a nice compliment. “It was the ultimate compliment and I am flattered to hear something like that especially coming from Floyd. It adds extra motivation, too, to live up to those expectations.”
The 160-pound division is an interesting one. At the top, you have Sergio Martinez, who is the linear and WBC champion. But then you have young talents and beltholders Dmitry Pirog and Gennady Golovkin along with aging beltholders Sebastian Sylvester and Felix Sturm. In the mix as well are contenders Matt Korobov, Danny Jacobs, Fernando Guerrero and David Lemieux. Beyond that, it gets very thin. It is a division either old and established or very young. For a young talent like Gonzales, it’s either wide open or a hard road to the top as none of them will be in a rush to take on a fighter who is equal parts athletic and aggressive with pop in both hands. Still, Gonzales is a rare talent who has the type of style that is both technically sound and crowd-pleasing. For a young promotional company like Let’s Get It On, a guy like Gonzales can put them on the map with the big boys, if moved correctly. January 7 is great first step in that direction.
“I’m in a tough position,” Gonzales admitted. “I have this thing where I say I have the talent of a champion but I’m the age of a contender and have the record of a prospect. So I am in a tough situation. I have some catching up to do. I only have 14 fights under my belt so I am hoping that 2011 will be that year and we just take it a fight at a time. This is a great start to 2011 being on a televised show and taking a step up in competition. I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Fighting on television can be a tough thing for a young fighter. Doing it the first few times can be a lesson in and of itself. But to hear Gonzales tell it, fear comes from lack of preparation and after this camp, he will have nothing to fear.
“I tried to stay focused and keep winning and going forward,” Gonzales explained. “At certain times, I’ll be sitting down and go, ‘Man, you are about to be on TV, shown in Mexico and on national TV.’ But you try not to let that get to you. For the most part, I am just staying focused on the task at hand. I have a bunch of mixed emotions going into the fight. You are nervous; you are scared. You are all those things. You are all those emotions mixed together but at the end of the day, above everything else, I know I am going to be prepared. So I think that is the main thing going into this fight. The work is being put in. We are in the last grueling week of Hell and then we will bring it back next week. I know the preparation is there and that gives me confidence going into the fight.”
Gonzales has been fighting in and around the middleweight division at what I would call the “prospect weight” of 163, 164 and so on. This fight is contracted at 161 but Gonzales plans to come at the middleweight limit to send a message that in 2011, the game will change for him and the rest of the middleweights.
“I am looking to come in at 160 to make everything official,” he explained. “It’s the beginning of the year and I want to make a good audition to let everyone know that I am one of the main faces coming up in the middleweight division.”
The journey of a prospect is one of answering questions. How is the chin? Can he handle adversity? What does he do if he can’t win by knockout early? For Gonzales, many of these questions have been answered. Now it’s about stepping up the competition and his game accordingly.
“I have faced adversity in the ring,” said Gonzales. “I’ve been knocked down and I came back up to knock the guy out in the next round (against Mike Alexander in his fourth pro fight). I’ve been knocked down by a bigger guy, got up, and won the fight. I’ve gone through making adjustments when I fought Darnell Boone. I had to make adjustments in between rounds. So the progression of opponents have gotten better and better each time out. Also with sparring, I’ve been in with top-level guys and I take those all as learning experiences. I soak up a little from each guy that I train with. I think those experiences show when I spar and when I fight. I definitely feel like I am ahead of where a normal prospect would be at 13-to-14 fights.”
With a top trainer, hands-on promoters who believe in him, and a TV date to start 2011, the sky is certainly the limit for this young and exciting fighter. While many are picking bigger, flashier names as their prospect of the year, Gonzales has slipped slightly under the radar. Something tells me all that will change in the coming year.
“I am just looking forward to having some outstanding performances in 2011,” said Gonzales. “I’d like to end the year in contention, whether it is fighting for a title or cracking into the top 15 and fighting some of those guys. At the same time, I am taking it one fight at a time.”