Saturday night is supposed to be a showcase for Southland fighters Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz, but veteran Mexican fighters Jhonny Gonzalez and Victor Terrazas have other plans.
Gonzalez, 31, is a former world bantamweight and featherweight world champion who will fight newly crowned World Boxing Council featherweight champion Mares (26-0-1, 13 knockouts) in the main event of Saturday’s Showtime-televised card at StubHub Center in Carson.
“It’s great motivation for me to fight Abner because at this time he is the best featherweight in the world and as with any true boxer, we want to fight the best,” Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) said Tuesday through a Spanish interpreter at a workout in Carson.
Gonzalez surrendered his belt to the man Mares beat to claim it in May, Daniel Ponce De Leon. That was Mares’ third different weight class world title in four fights.
It appears Gonzalez’s best chance to hand the Hawaiian Gardens fighter his first loss is by knockout.
“Knocking people out, it’s something you have within you,” Gonzalez said, counting his KOs of Ratanachai Vorapin in a 2005 world bantamweight title fight and the 2011 TKO of Hozumi Haasegawa in Japan in 2011 as his best.
Gonzalez maintains he doesn’t need a knockout to beat Mares on his own turf.
“I can win by decision, I’m well prepared,” he said. “I wouldn’t have taken this fight if I didn’t think it was possible to win. There’s a way to win.”
Mares said he’s readying for Gonzalez to approach this fight as if it’s his career last stand.
Gonzalez is trained by Mares’ former trainer, veteran trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain.
“I have a lot of experience,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve taken on the best boxers, this is just another tough one.”
As for the 30-year-old Terrazas (37-2-1, 16 KOs), he’s seeking to make his first World Boxing Assn. super-bantamweight title defense a successful one against the 25-year-old former bantamweight champion Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs).
“There’s a reason I’m a champion and you’ll see why,” Terrazas said in Spanish through an interpreter. “I’ve had good sparring partners with different styles. I believe my preparation, the movement of my hips and my speed will win me this fight.”
Terrazas, like Gonzalez, said the edge in experience is important.
“It’s been hard work fighting these tough guys,” said Terrazas, who beat Cristian Mijares in April to win the belt. “What I’ve learned will show.
“He comes forward, I come forward. It’ll be an attractive fight, and whoever’s the most aggressive will win the fight.”