Like a lot of other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Giovannie Gonzalez’s boxing career.
The 2008 Tokay High graduate was scheduled for his 15th professional boxing match in Stockton in March, but that was canceled.
Then he was scheduled for a bout today against Ivan Pinto in Pinto’s hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, for the World Boxing Federation International Super Feather title, but the required officials were not able to make it there from overseas because of pandemic restrictions.
Gonzalez and Pinto have agreed to go ahead with the fight, but without the title on the line. Instead of a 10-round main event for the belt, they will fight an eight-round co-main event.
Gonzalez, a 30-year-old who goes by King Gio, is 10-4 with eight knockouts since he went pro in 2017. Pinto, 31, is 4-0 with two knockouts, and is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Donald Brown out of Inglewood. Brown was 7-0 heading into the fight.
“(Pinto) dropped the guy five times. He beat two American fighters,” Gonzalez said. “It’s an eye-opener. He’s solid. But we had a long training camp.”
The event at Frontón Palacio Jai Alai in Tijuana, which includes seven other bouts, will be held under the shroud of the pandemic. No spectators will be present, and everybody on Gonzalez’s team was given COVID-19 tests upon arrival on Wednesday.
Gonzalez’s corner includes head trainer Marco Arroyo Jr. and strength and conditioning coach Richard Carrera. His other strength and conditioning coach, Johnny Amezquita, wasn’t able to make the trip due to restrictions.
“They checked everybody earlier. Like, everybody,” Gonzalez said after weighing in on Wednesday. “We can’t leave the hotel until after the fight, which is Friday. They take our temperature at the hotel and the arena.”
One positive for Gonzalez is that his opponent won’t have the home crowd advantage. Gonzalez said he doesn’t know what to expect from the atmosphere of fighting in an empty arena.
“I guess you can say there’s no home-town advantage from the crowd,” he said. “But we don’t worry about that, we just go to work.”
Gonzalez played soccer while at Tokay High under recently-retired coach Ruben Gomez, but boxing has been his passion for just as long. He started at about 9 years old, watching his older cousin fight amateur bouts.
“I got motivated to be a boxer watching him do it,” Gonzalez said. “We’d buy boxing gloves at Walmart and go to the park and spar with anybody.”
Gonzalez went into an amateur career, where he compiled 48 fights with a 44-4 record.
“Amateurs is 2 minutes per round for three rounds, and you’re kind of rushed,” Gonzalez said. “It’s cool because in professional boxing, you start off at four rounds, there’s six rounds, eight rounds, and 10-rounders. It is more dangerous — you don’t have head gear, the gloves are smaller. And you get paid for it.”
Gonzalez hasn’t stepped in the ring since Dec. 7, when he stopped an undefeated Christian Rene Arenas by technical knockout, also in Tijuana.