After consecutive heart-breaking losses — including one considered one of the year’s worst decisions — Yunieski Gonzalez will return to the ring in comfortable surroundings.
Gonzalez, a native of Cuba and Miami resident, will fight in the main event of a show Saturday night at the Doubletree Hotel near Miami International Airport.
Gonzalez will face Brazil’s Junior Jackson in a scheduled 10-round light-heavyweight bout.
The announced 10-bout card is the third local show of the year and first in Miami-Dade County.
Sounding not only like the card’s protagonist but a promoter, Gonzalez (16-2, 12 KOs) predicts that the match will satisfy fight fans yearning for local shows.
Once a busy boxing location, South Florida has become a dormant market the past five years.
“This card will be a storm and I will be in the eye of that storm,” Gonzalez said in a recent press conference, which officially announced the show. “Miami is demanding quality boxing and we will provide that. We are going to shake the city with our punches.”
Gonzalez, 31, thought he had landed sufficient punches in his first high-profile opportunity July 2015 against former champion Jean Pascal in Las Vegas.
Gonzalez seemed to have outworked Pascal throughout the 10-round bout that was televised on HBO. Gonzalez, and many fans anticipated a win on the scorecards and possible title opportunity against reigning 175-pound champion Sergey Kovalev.
But the three fight judges somehow awarded Pascal a close unanimous decision, infuriating spectators at the Mandalay Events Center and leaving Gonzalez in tears. As a result, Pascal landed a second title fight against Kovalev Jan. 30 and was stopped in seven rounds.
The sting from the loss against Pascal carried over into Gonzalez’s bout against Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in December, when he lost a majority decision in another HBO telecast.
“Although Yunieski was tagged with the loss against Pascal, he won followers all over the world because of the controversial decision,” said Michael Luzbet, Gonzalez’s manager. “HBO also has told us they want to continue showcasing him on their telecasts. If all goes well Saturday, there is a good possibility you will see him in important fights on HBO again.”
Lopez headed to Rio
Teofimo Lopez’s dream was to earn a berth on the 2016 U.S. Olympic boxing team. And, although the Davie resident didn’t land a spot on the squad, despite impressive amateur performances, Lopez will box in the Rio Games representing his ancestral homeland.
The son of Honduran parents, Lopez, who turned 19 on Saturday, will be part of the Central American nation’s delegation and only member of its boxing team when the Olympics begin Friday.
Lopez won the lightweight division championship at the U.S. Trials in December 2015. However, Olympic spots now require accomplishments in additional events.
When an opportunity arose to represent Honduras at the Americas Qualifier in March, Lopez capitalized on the occasion. Lopez won his division championship at the tournament in Argentina.
Carl Frampton won a majority decision over Leo Santa Cruz in an action-intense featherweight title bout Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The victory earned Frampton (23-0) the WBA 126-pound title.
Two judges scored the fight for Frampton, 117-111 and 116-112, while the third scored it 114-114. Santa Cruz is now 32-1-1.
On the same card, former two-division champion Mikey Garcia returned from a 30-month absence and scored a fifth-round technical knockout victory over former featherweight titleholder Elio Rojas. Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) dropped Rojas (24-3) twice in the third and fifth rounds.
The accumulation of knockdowns forced referee Eddie Claudio to stop the junior-welterweight bout at 2:02 of the fifth.
▪ Friday (9 p.m., ESPN): Alejandro Luna vs. Stephen Ormond, 10, lightweights.
▪ Saturday (7 p.m., at Miami Airport Convention Center- Doubletree Hotel, 711 N.W. 72nd Ave., Miami): announced 10-bout card, headlined by Yunieski Gonzalez vs. Junior Jackson, 10, light-heavyweights; tickets range from $30 to $75; 786-553-3895.
▪ Saturday (10:35 p.m., HBO): Andre Ward vs. Alexander Brand, 12, light-heavyweights.