Today at The Saitma Super Arena in Japan, Jonathan Gonzalez retained his WBO light-flyweight title with an at times tough decision win over a 9-0 Shokichi Iwata of Tokyo. The Puerto Rican southpaw who was making the second defence of his belt, overcame a terrible start, where an accidental clash of heads left Gonzalez hurt and also cut above the right eye. For four rounds it looked as though “novice” Iwata might pull off the win and become a world champion so quickly in his career.
But Gonzalez regrouped and he regained control. It was an exciting fight at times, with some good trading, but in the end the experience and class of the 31 year old champ told the story. Scores were 117-111, 116-112, 116-112, all for Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who has never lost at 108 pounds, is now 27-3-1(14). Iwata, who can certainly come again, is now 9-1(6).
Gonzalez looked to be a fighter who wanted out during the first four rounds, this when he was complaining about being butted and being hit low. Iwata did land some body shots that were borderline yet he also did some great work to the midsection of the man five years his senior. Gonzalez came out with a different attitude in the fifth and he fought like a champion.
Iwata, a physically strong fighter, was constantly coming forward and he did get home with some good shots, especially to the body, but Gonzalez, boxing on the back-foot, was the superior technician. Some of the rounds were pretty tough to score and watching the fight, it looked to be closer than what the final scores read. There were times when Gonzalez looked to be almost running away from the challenger.
Still, skills pay the bills and Gonzalez scored with some quality shots, with Iwata’s eyes marked up at the end. Today’s fight was frustrating to watch at times, but when Gonzalez got going he was impressive. Iwata made the fight, however. For a fighter wish such little pro experience, Iwata did himself proud even if he failed to get the victory.
For Gonzalez, today’s win marked a triumphant return to Japan, with him having been stopped by Kosei Tanaka in a failed WBO flyweight title challenge in August of 2019. Post-fight, “Bomba” said he would like to fight in Japan again, and try to unify the light-flyweight titles.