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Forgotten Warriors: Julio Cesar Gonzalez


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One of very few Mexicans to win a world title above 160, Julio Cesar Gonzalez was a world class light heavy who surprisingly dethroned the long-reigning WBO champion Dariusz Michalczewski in 2003. Before that, he had challenged the p4p king Roy Jones jr in a seven-title fight in 2001 and was dropped several times, but lasted the distance to his credit and lost on points. The 6'2 Gonzalez was a tall and hard working fighter who wasn't a very hard hitter but had the pop and usually outworked his opponents to win. He was also tough and had the chin and was only stopped once in 10 rounds, late in his career. He won 41 fights, 25 by ko, and lost 8. Here is some more info about him.


Full name Julio Cesar Gonzalez Ibarra, he was born 30 July 1976, in Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico. He participated as a member of the Mexican team in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, but was of bad luck as he had to fight the favorite and eventual gold medallist Vassily Jirov in the first round and lost to him on points. Gonzalez moved to Huntington Beach in California to start a professional career and had his first professional fight in April 1997. He won the WBC Fecarbox title in his 22nd fight, by stopping 15-0 Jesus Ruiz by TKO 9. That was in May 2000 and later that year he also stopped Nigel Benn's former opponent Jorge Amparo by TKO 5. He then faced the hard-hitting Julian Letterlough in a fight for his WBC Fecarbox title, the WBO NABO title held by Letterlough and the vacant IBA Continental title, 2 February 2001 in Columbus, Ohio. It was an unforgettable war where Gonzalez went down three times but also dropped Letterlough twice, before winning on all scorecards. After stopping Konstantin Semerdjiev in a non-title fight, he then challenged Roy Jones jr himself. Jones was 44-1, that lone loss coming by disqualification of course, and held the WBC, WBA Super and IBF titles, plus three more less significant ones. In addition to ALL THAT, the vacant IBA title was also on the line. The fight commenced on 28 July same year, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Gonzalez was simply overmatched and was put down three times, but lasted the distance and fought a brave fight, getting one round from two judges and two from one of them. He earned half a million for the fight and got a very valuable experience.


He moved on and scored some good wins, most notably against Glen Johnson by MD 10 in January 2003. On 18 October that year, he faced Dariusz Michalczewski in Altona, Hamburg. It was the Pole's 24th defense of his WBO title and everybody expected him to win easily against this relatively unknown Mexican. However, Gonzalez surprised everyone by outworking the slightly shorter Michalczewski and in the end got the nod by 116-112 from two judges, thus winning by SD. He thus became one of select few Mexicans and Latinos to win a world title at 175. Unfortunately, he lost the title already 3 months later, again fighting in Germany, against the Hungarian technician Zsolt Erdei, 17 January 2004. Erdei won by wide scores on all cards and thus relieved him of the WBO belt in his first defense. He bounced back at the end of that year by stopping David Telesco (another former Jones jr-opponent) by TKO 8, which was one of his strongest victories. Telesco had never been stopped before and also went 12 against Jones jr. He would see more success in his next fight against the man to take Jones' zero, Montell Griffin. In an IBF-eliminator fight on 5 May 2005, Gonzalez was ahead on two cards and the third was even when he got cut by an unintentional butt, over the right eye, in the 6th. The fight went to scorecards and Gonzalez was thus victorious by a technical decision. This gave him a crack at the IBF title then held by Clinton Woods of Sheffield, who was equally tall as he and a strong, hardy fighter. Gonzalez went over to his hometown to fight him on 9 September and after a tough and close fight, he lost by a too wide decision. After scoring 3 more wins, he got to rematch Woods, again at the Sheffield Arena, 29 September 2007. After another close and competitive fight, the scorecards were slightly less wide this time, but still all on the side of the champion, 116-112, 115-113 and 117-111. That would also be Woods' last successful title defense as he would go on to lose the title to Antonio Tarver next year. On 23 February next year, Gonzalez fought the comebacking Reggie Johnson, another former IBF champion, for the IBA title. Gonzalez ended losing by a split decision in what was Johnson's last fight. It was now becoming clear he was no longer at his best and the Woods-fights had taken their toll on him. On 8 August '08 he faced the young up and comer Tavoris Cloud, who gave him a beating for 10 rounds until the fight was stopped at 1:50 of the 10th. Gonzalez hung in there and stayed competitive, but absorbed too many big shots from the younger and fresher guy. This marked the end of his career.


He took the 2009 off before coming back in 2010, as a cruiser. However, he lost his comeback fight to an unheralded guy called Felipe Romero, by UD. Next year on 30 September, they had a rematch and once again Gonzalez dropped a UD in a fight for the vacant WBC FECOMBOX title. Wether he considered or planned retirement after this, we cannot know, because he got killed not so long after that. He had moved back to his hometown of Guerrero Negro and was riding his motorcycle one day on 11 March 2012, when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. He was only 35. A foundation was then started in his memory, named after him of course. JCG was a quality fighter who always gave it 100% in the ring and was never or seldom in boring fights. Had he had more power, maybe he could have achieved even more. He always had to work hard to win and sometimes came on the wrong end of decisions he probably deserved to get. That is why he is a FORGOTTEN WARRIOR!



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