Jonathan 'Bomba' Gonzalez Eyes Title Unification Bout with Teraji Pending Victory in Upcoming Defense
Puerto Rican fighter Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez is gearing up for a significant opportunity in 2024, contingent on his upcoming title defense. Gonzalez, the current WBO junior flyweight champion, is scheduled to face Gerardo Zapata on October 27 in a highly-anticipated match held at the Polideportivo Alexis Arguello in Managua, Nicaragua, broadcast live on ESPN Knockout.
A victory for Gonzalez in this pivotal showdown could potentially reignite plans for a title unification bout against Kenshiro Teraji, the lineal, WBC, and WBA champion, in the coming year. However, any deviation from this plan, including an upset win by Zapata, would require Gonzalez to fulfill his next obligatory mandatory title defense, as ruled during the WBO’s 36th annual convention in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on Thursday.
Gonzalez, boasting a professional record of 27 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw with 14 knockouts, is poised to make his third title defense. He initially claimed the WBO junior flyweight title in October 2021 with a twelve-round points victory over Elwin Soto in Fresno, California. Subsequently, he defended his title against Mark Anthony Barriga and the undefeated mandatory challenger Shokichi Iwata in 2022. Nevertheless, the 32-year-old southpaw has yet to step into the ring this year.
The pivotal victory over Iwata occurred on the same November 1 card where Teraji secured a stunning seventh-round knockout against his unbeaten compatriot Hiroto Kyoguchi in Saitama, Japan. Their successful outcomes set the stage for a potential unification bout, with both fighters agreeing to meet on April 8 at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Unfortunately, Gonzalez was compelled to withdraw from the matchup due to illness during his training camp. In light of this, he was granted a one-time exception for an optional title defense, with his next bout mandated to be either a mandatory defense or a title unification.
As a result of Gonzalez’s withdrawal, Teraji went on to face Anthony Olascuaga, Gonzalez’s promotional stablemate, who accepted the opportunity to engage in his first career title fight on the April 8 card. Olascuaga put forth a valiant effort but was eventually stopped in the ninth round by the talented Teraji.
Teraji’s successful defense was part of his second WBC junior flyweight title reign. He regained the title with a third-round knockout of countryman Masamichi Yabuki on March 19 in Kyoto, thus avenging his lone career defeat, a September 2021 eleventh-round stoppage to Yabuki in Kyoto, Japan. Subsequently, Teraji secured the WBA belt and the division’s lineal championship.
Teraji’s most recent victory came via a ninth-round knockout of WBC mandatory challenger and former two-division titlist, Hekkie Budler, on September 18 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. He has now entered the voluntary stage of his second title reign, setting the stage for a potential unification showdown against Gonzalez.
Gonzalez and Teraji, along with the boxing world, eagerly await the outcome of Gonzalez’s upcoming title defense to determine the trajectory of the coveted title unification bout in 2024.