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Jorge Luis Gonzalez-The Man Who Loved to be Hated


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One of the most hated boxers of his time was Jorge Luis Gonzalez. He both looked the part, a towering 6'7 guy with a powerful physique and a menacing look on his face. He even had a very distinctive hairstyle: bald on the top and with a mullet in the back. He was known as an arrogant and menacing guy, even going as far as telling one interviewer that he would have killed him if they were in Roman times, and said that people booing him only made him more satisfied. As amateur, he was very accomplished and decorated. However, as a pro, his career would hit rock bottom after a promising start. The man who sent him on a downward slope was the same man he had earlier defeated in the amateurs: Riddick Bowe. He was also the first Cuban to fight for a professional heavyweight title.

He was born on 19 October 1964, in Havana, capital of Cuba. He started boxing as amateur and first won the 1983 Pan American Games, defeating Tyrell Biggs in the semi-final. That same year, he also became the Cuban champion, and in 1988 as well. His greatest achievement came at the 1987 Pan Am Games, when he defeated both Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis (4-1 on points) to become the champion again. At the North American championship that same year however, he dropped a close 1-2 decision to Lewis. He eventually defected from Cuba and reached Miami, where he turned pro in June 1991. There he went 23-0 with 22 ko's, only going distance against David Graves, in an 8-rounder. He stopped Renaldo Snipes by TKO10 on 6 November 1993, in what was Snipes' last fight. He also stopped Philipp Brown by KO1 and Brian Scott by TKO2. He then signed to fight his old nemesis from the amateurs, Riddick Bowe, who was then holding the WBO belt. Such was the animosity between the two that Bowe threw a glass at Gonzalez in a hotel lobby before or after a presser and the weigh in had to be held with a protective glass wall separating the two! 

The fight itself happened on 17 June 1995, at the MGM Grand. Despite being 2 inches taller, Gonzalez weighed in at 237-6 pounds less than the powerful Bowe. Gonzalez made history by becoming the first Cuban to fight for a world heavyweight title (Nino Valdes fought in a non-universally recognized world title bout 40 years earlier). What was expected to be a war instead turned into a pretty one-sided affair, as Bowe consistently landed lefts and rights on Gonzalez, who showed very little ability to avoid his punches or counter them with his own. He did land a punch or a short combo here and there, but he was just outgunned and outclassed. In round 6, Bowe first threw a left jab, before connecting with a big right to the head of Gonzalez which sent him down. Bowe also got in a left handed punch on his head as he was going down. Gonzalez was out cold. This brutal loss not just affected his ranking, it also exposed his game as very limited. It was said that Gonzalez did not really listen much to his trainer, Kevin Henry, thinking that as a Cuban amateur he already knew everything about boxing and an American could not teach him anything.

He came back later that year and posted a win over an unknown Jason Waller by TKO4, but in his next fight, against Tim Witherspoon, he was again "found out". It was on 10 May 1996, on the same card as Lewis vs Mercer and the giant Cuban started out ok, but soon started getting nailed by Witherspoon's specialty-overhand right. In round 5, Witherspoon cornered him and hit him with several big overhand rights that put the giant down and the fight was over, with 6 seconds left of the round. To make matters worse, in December that year he was stopped by the trialhorse Ross Purritty by TKO7. On 19 April next year, he won the WBO Latino title by UD against Daniel Eduard0 Neto. On 7 November, he was however taken out in 1 round by the equally tall Michael Grant, then a hot new contender. He also lost an 8-round majority decision to Paea Wolfgramm of Tonga in 1998. He was on a good streak for a while after that and beat an aging Greg Page by UD10 in 1999, but in August 2000 he was surprisingly stopped in only 3 rounds by the 5'11 Cliff Couser (who claimed he was Mike Tyson's half-brother), a journeyman with a big punch. He was then stopped by a rising contender Joe Mesi by TKO4 in 2001 and finally by 11-0 Derek Bryant by TKO1 in January 2002, after which he retired.

His amateur record is 220-13 and his professional one 31-8-0 with 27 ko's. Jorge Luis Gonzalez was a cautionary tale in many ways, as his own arrogance, ego and also mean streak contributed to his downfall. Not only did they all make him very unpopular among American boxing audiences, his arrogance and ego hindered his development as a professional boxer. He is not remembered fondly also for his tendency to dish out unnecessary long punishment to his opponents, taunting them in the meanwhile. After losing to Bowe, he was interviewed post-fight and asked if the ill will he felt toward Bowe affected his performance, he answered: "When you get a lot of hate, sometimes you get too aggressive. Sometimes it just doesn't work out for you." And in the end, this became a realistic sum up to his career. 


BoxRec: Jorge Luis Gonzalez

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  • BoztheMadman changed the title to Jorge Luis Gonzalez-The Man Who Loved to be Hated

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