Over his six most recent fights, Joet Gonzalez has lost three times, with two of those losses coming in world title bouts. On Friday, he steps into the ring to challenge for yet another belt when he takes on IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez in Corpus Christi, Texas.
That Gonzalez is getting yet another title fight is certainly strange, but these situations tend to crop up in boxing where rankings and opportunities are often altered by who a fighter is tied to promotionally.
After an impressive 23-0 start to his career, Gonzalez was thoroughly outclassed by Shakur Stevenson in an October 2019 bout for the WBO featherweight title. After a get-right victory in his next outing, Gonzalez again fought for the WBO belt, this time dropping an October 2021 decision to Emanuel Navarrete. Again, he picked up a win before stepping up in competition, this time losing a split decision to Isaac Dogboe in a WBO title eliminator.
Gonzalez got back in the win column in April with a decision win over Enrique Vivas and now holds the No. 1 ranking for the WBO despite his 3-3 record over the past four years.
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IBF champion Lopez is defending his belt against Gonzalez despite Reiya Abe becoming the IBF mandatory challenger with a win over Kiko Martinez in an April title eliminator.
Lopez is riding an 11-fight winning streak. He captured the IBF belt in his first shot at a world title, taking a majority decision over Josh Warrington. Lopez then took less than five full rounds to make the first defense of his title, stopping Michael Conlan in May.
With a win over Gonzalez, Lopez will likely look to close out the year by facing Abe to clear the one-year bar to face a mandatory challenger as set by the IBF, though he will also have an eye on the October clash between WBA champion Leigh Wood and Warrington and a potential unification bout down the road.
The undercard sees the return of a couple of rising prospects looking to make a splash. Xander Zayas is back in a super welterweight contest against Roberto Valenzuela Jr. in the co-main event. The 21-year-old is undefeated at 16-0 since turning pro in 2019 after a successful amateur run. Plus, Jamaine Ortiz is back in a lightweight contest opposite Antonio Moran.
Let’s take a closer look at the full card before getting to a prediction and expert pick on the main event.
Lopez vs. Gonzalez fight card, odds
|Luis Alberto Lopez (c) -800||Joet Gonzalez +550||IBF featherweight title|
|Xander Zayas -1600||Roberto Valenzuela Jr. +900||Super welterweight|
|Jamaine Ortiz||Antonio Moran||Lightweight|
Gonzalez might not “deserve” this title fight, but he is a solid action fighter who can be trusted to be in a decent television main event. Lopez is likely just too good for Gonzalez here. Stylistically, Lopez is tricky, fighting off-rhythm compared to what you would expect. Lopez does leave openings for his opponent to connect but his tempo and rhythm often keeps opponents from effectively pulling the trigger. Gonzalez will have his hands full trying to figure out that rhythm while also dealing with Lopez throwing shots from unusual angles and with unorthodox combinations. Pick: Luis Alberto Lopez via UD