Jonathan Gonzalez made a successful first defense of his WBO junior flyweight title tonight, winning a decision over Mark Anthony Barriga in a tactical, cagey ProBox TV main event from Kissimmee, Fla.
Gonzalez (26-3-1, 14 KO) took the fight on scores of 115-113, 117-111, and 117-111. Bad Left Hook’s unofficial card was 115-113 for Gonzalez, with “Bomba” sweeping the final four rounds to take the ultimate lead.
It was a good fight between two very skilled, crafty fighters, but as the fight wore on and got a bit less tight, Gonzalez’s harder shots were able to account for more of a round, as Barriga (11-2, 2 KO) was no longer making the strong argument that he was out-boxing Gonzalez, which is not an easy thing to do in the first place.
Going forward, Gonzalez seems to have two key potential challengers.
First has to be top-ranked WBO contender Mark Vicelles (17-0-1, 10 KO), a 26-year-old Filipino southpaw who just fought on June 17 in Mandaue City, so he’s lined up timing-wise for the bout. He’s never actually fought a serious contender, but that never stops sanctioning bodies from handing out rankings.
We also could see Gonzalez’s next challenger emerge tomorrow night, when the man he beat last year for the belt, Elwin Soto, faces former titleholder Hekkie Budler in Mexico, which will stream live on ESPN+.
Soto is currently the WBO’s No. 2 ranked challenger, and Budler is unranked at the moment, but a W over Soto would rocket him up the rankings, you have to figure.
Angelino Cordova SD-10 Axel Vega
Controversial scoring, to say the least. I had this 97-93 for Vega. One judge had the same. The other two had 97-93 and 98-92 for Cordova. I could see where you might come out at 95-95 but giving Cordova seven or eight rounds seems pretty bad, to me, in my opinion.
Cordova is now 17-0-1 (12 KO), and did do some good work when he kept this in the center of the ring. But a lot of this was fought on Vega’s terms. “El Mini” pushed Cordova to the ropes, emptied his gas tank (and eventually his own, to be fair), and bossed most of the rounds for me.
But it is what it is, I guess. It was a good action fight and clash of styles that will unfortunately be thought about more for how it was scored. Vega is a really fun fighter to watch and just can’t seem to catch a break. Cordova stepped up pretty big in class here and it showed, as did the fact that he hadn’t fought in nearly 17 months. I don’t think he deserved the win, and I’m not sure he has the tools to become a serious contender at 108, but we’ll see.
Vega absolutely thought he was robbed, and said he’s still hoping to get back to a world title fight. At 22, he’s got time.
Undercard highlights and results
- Hakim Lopez UD-8 Cruse Stewart: Lopez, 27, is the older brother of Najee, whom we’ll talk about a bit more below. He got a win on scores of 79-73 from all three judges. Hakim, a 27-year-old super middleweight, is now 13-0 (8 KO). This wasn’t a very exciting fight, in part because Stewart (8-1, 6 KO) is a crafty, difficult dude, a 33-year-old who is short for 168/175 but could be very useful as a prospect tester if more promoters get a look at what he did here. He’s got the ability to give rounds for sure.
- Jaycob Gomez UD-6 Marcello Williams: Scores were 59-55, 60-54, 60-54. Williams (3-14, 0 KO) is a 33-year-old Brazilian with that frustrating style of some of the journeymen fighters you see on British shows, took this the distance, was scrappy and willing to be dirty, but never in control of the fight. Gomez, a 20-year-old Puerto Rican southpaw junior lightweight, improves to 5-0 (4 KO), but got some decent rounds in to learn on here.
- Najee Lopez TKO-3 Jeysson Monroy: Now, first things first, this was stopped on an eye injury with blood inside of Monroy’s eye. He was down twice in the second and was getting picked apart pretty well, but it was a doctor stoppage, just to be clear there.
The 22-year-old Lopez is now 5-0 (5 KO), and was really impressive here considering the level, and the level is kind of interesting anyway. Monroy (1-1, 1 KO) has the record appearance of a novice, but he was a 2012 Olympian for Colombia. Listen, as someone who has watched every second of the last three Olympics for boxing, I can tell you not everyone is good, but they all know what they’re doing, or at least probably 90 percent do. Monroy, generally known only as Jeysson, a name whispered on the Medellin wind, is also 37 years old, but he clearly did know his way around the ring, it’s just that Harris is a good prospect.
Najee has worked his way down in weight from 210 to 199 to 196 to 193 to about 187 for this fight; he seems headed for 175, or else he would have stopped in the mid-to-high 190s, probably. A fighter to watch.
Monroy reportedly announced that he’s retiring from boxing. He had a long career counting the amateurs, and best wishes to him. He gave a pro career a little crack and frankly it’s probably not getting better at his age.
- Jan Paul Rivera TKO-1 Cesar Martinez: Kind of grotesque to watch, in all honesty. The 32-year-old Martinez (4-7-2, 1 KO) hadn’t fought since 2017 and had absolutely nothing in this fight. It was just Rivera (3-0, 3 KO) loading up and teeing off, searching for a one-shot knockout. He didn’t quite get that, but Martinez gave nothing back and just ate shots until the referee mercifully ended this at 2:13. Martinez, originally from Spain, hasn’t won a fight since 2012. He’s 0-6-2 in his last eight, dating back to Oct. 2013. He was fed to both Joet Gonzalez and Andy Vences in 2014 if you’re wondering how long ago it was that he was cast as this guy.
- Trinidad Vargas TKO-1 Josh Aarons: Pro debut for Vargas, a 19-year-old out of Texas who will fight at 115/118 to start his career, it appears. The 33-year-old Aarons (0-3) spent most of the 2:30 this lasted trying to bait the referee with complaints. Then he got dropped, fell down again trying to get up, got a nice, long eight count anyway, and then it was stopped because he didn’t really respond to the referee. Anyway, this told us nothing about Vargas.