Over the past several months, WBO lightweight titlist Ricky Burns has been involved in a myriad of issues stemmed from his December title bout falling through. He was in the shake-up to fight rising superstar and WBC lightweight titleholder Adrien Broner at some point this year. Burns was also twice scheduled to fight IBF lightweight champ Miguel Vazquez in an interesting unification pairing only for that to fall through. At this point, Burns left longtime promoter Frank Warren, believing the grass would be greener over with Eddie Hearn at Matchroom Sport. By then, his WBO mandatory was due against Puerto Rican Jose A. Gonzalez, a 29-year-old sporting an impressive record of 22-0 with 17 stoppages. While it’s a marked step-up in competition for “Chelo,” who originally hails from northern coastal town Toa Baja, he’s already held the WBO Latino lightweight strap. His team, PR Best Boxing Promotions, led by the brother combo of Ivan and Peter Rivera, fully believes Gonzalez is ready for his opportunity. Ivan says, “We are extremely confident in Jose ‘Chelo’ Gonzalez for this fight. He is training very hard, as he always does, but this time with the world title bout close.” They‘ll arrive in the U.K. a week ahead of the fight with Ivan very confident of his fighter’s chance’s. “This will be a great fight against a good champion and we expect that ‘Chelo’ Gonzalez becomes the new Puerto Rican world champion.”
Anson Wainwright - On Saturday, 11th May, you fight Ricky Burns for his WBO lightweight title. What are your thoughts on Burns as a fighter?
Jose A. Gonzalez - I think Ricky Burns is a great fighter with an outstanding career. It will be a remarkable fight.
AW - It also takes place in his home country Scotland. All your pro fights have taken place in Puerto Rico. What do you think of going to his home country?
JG - It is an honour for me to fight in his homeland. I am just prepared for the fight against him, just him. On fighting there, my mental attitude is in order to give my best effort.
AW - How many days before the fight will you arrive?
JG - I will be there seven days before. I will travel from Puerto Rico on Friday, May 3.
AW - Of course, in September of 2010, Burns beat your stablemate Roman Martinez to win the WBO 130-pound title and has improved significantly since that win. Have you spoken to Martinez about Burns? Do you view this as a revenge mission for Puerto Rico because of Burns’ win over Martinez?
JG - None at all. I respect what they did but I am going to face the actual 135-pound champion of the world. This is a new story.
AW - Who are the key members of your team? Also where do you regularly train?
JG - The members of my team are my manager, Andres Ortiz, my trainer, Roberto Nevarez, physical trainer Jose Soto and assistant Jose Cintron. Our promoter is PR Best Boxing Promotions. We train at the Toa Baja Gym.
AW - You’re from Toa Baja in the north of Puerto Rico. What were things like for you in your younger days?
JG - I spent most [of my] time watching cockfights with my family, riding horses in my neighborhood of Campanillas, where I played handball, basketball and other games. We are a group of friends. Some of them fell in bad things [such] as drugs but I keep my mind in positive things, thanks to God and my family. It was difficult because we are from a poor neighborhood but always you can go for better.
AW - How did you first become interested in boxing?
JG - I used to visit the Toa Baja Gym but nobody paid attention to me until I went to Roberto Nevarez, who took care of since then. As an amateur, I only fought five times, turning pro in 2008.
AW – Other than Ricky Burns, what do you think of the lightweight division and the other champions, WBC titlist Adrien Broner, WBA champ Richard Abril and IBF titleholder Miguel Vazquez?
JG - Adrian Broner is a super fighter. Miguel Vazquez is a tricky fighter and Richard Abril is a good technical boxer. All of them are real challenges for me.
AW - Away from boxing, what do you enjoy doing with your time?
JG – I play handball, basketball. Also, I like to dance and take tours around my island.
AW - Who were your boxing heroes growing up? Who do you admire today?
JG - In the past, there were former Puerto Rican world champions Wilfredo Gomez and Hector “Macho” Camacho. In recent years, Felix “Tito” Trinidad. They were great boxers and known around the world.
AW - In closing, do you have a message for Ricky Burns ahead of your fight?
JG - Ricky, I expect you are in good shape for this fight. I’m training very hard to make a great fight. It will be a war. All fans will get their money’s worth.
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright. Anson is also a contributor and ratings panelist for The Ring magazine.
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