Cuban native Gonzalez looks to take next step at Hard Rock


For The Miami Herald

Yunieski Gonzalez looks forward to another busy year of fights in his quest toward light-heavyweight ascension.

Gonzalez, a Miami resident, has fought 10 times in his 27-month professional career. With each bout, Gonzalez believes there is noticeable progress comparable to career status.

On Friday night, Gonzalez will take another important step. The native of Cuba will fight in his first announced main event bout at the Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood. Gonzalez will face Rowland Bryant of Altamonte Springs in the headliner of an announced eight-bout card.

“Everything has worked out as scheduled for me so far since I became a professional,” said Gonzalez, who defected from Cuba three years ago. “You can say I am satisfied, but you always want to maintain that drive and hunger because there is so much to accomplish.”

If Gonzalez (10-0, 6 KOs) maintains the schedule with similar results that he kept the past two calendar years, the fighter and his manager, Mike Luzbet, anticipate a fast climb in the light-heavyweight rankings.

“The way he has moved forward, there is no reason why Yunieski can’t be fighting for a title eliminator at the beginning of 2014,” Luzbet said.

Although Gonzalez recognizes that Bryant is his immediate target, he can’t help but envision world-title settings. In his perfect scenario, Gonzalez, 27, would face recently crowned light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins.

“For me, that would be a tremendous honor,” Gonzalez said of fighting the 48-year-old Hopkins. “I have always admired his dedication and discipline. Who knows? He might still be fighting when he is 50 years old and at that time, if everything goes as planned, I could be contending for a title.”

Gonzalez’s championship dreams will face the first possible obstacle of his career Friday night. Bryant, 33, is 16-2 with 11 knockouts.

“He is the toughest opponent I will fight so far in my career,” Gonzalez said. “All my focus is on him because he is coming into the fight wanting to end my unbeaten record.”

Friday’s show starts at 7. For information, call 1-800-745-3000.

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