By: Paul Yates
Rising middleweight Carlos Gongora co-headlines a match at The Encore Boston Harbor this Friday in Everett, Massachusetts. The hard punching Gongora faces Mexico’s Alan Zavala in a scheduled ten rounder. The fight is expected to be an opportunity for Gongora, who is presently 16-0 with 12 KO’s, to showcase his skills and explosive hitting power.
Photo Credit: Joe Gallo
Standing 6’1″ and fighting from a southpaw stance, Gongora ranked among the world’s leading middleweights as an amateur, during which he fought more than several hundred matches. Representing his home country of Ecuador, Gongora boxed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. He also participated in the 2007, 2009, and 2011 World Amateur Championships. Since turning professional in 2015, Gongora has been based in the United States. He currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts, and is 30 years old.
The lanky Gongora has impressed boxing aficionados with his agility, lightning quick reflexes, savvy ring tactics, and stalking, cat-like fighting style. His ring demeanor is best described as icily composed, or even eerily calm. Gongora packs one-punch knockout power in his left hand, and he often finishes opponents suddenly and unexpectedly with single, explosive shots to the head. The Ecuadorian delivers his left-handed power punch in the form of overhand blows to the jaw, roundhouse shots swung around his foes’ guards, and as uppercuts thrown from long and short distance.
Gongora usually boxes from long range, fully utilizing his height and reach advantages as he spears his opponents with long right jabs to the head and body. So far, Gongora’s defense has shown no flaws, as he effortlessly dodges blows by bouncing backwards on his feet and by leveraging his impressive upper-body maneuvering and agility. Foes who try to bull their way inside Gongora’s firing range are always tied-up and pushed away, or they are battered into retreat by the Ecuadorian’s heavy fisted counterattacks.
The flashy, one punch KO power in Gongora’s left hand, in addition to his height and unusually calm ring demeanor, remind this writer of 1980’s light-heavyweight champion Mike Spinks. Like Gongora, Spinks was a tall, wiry, thin boxer-puncher known for scoring dramatic, one punch knockouts. While Gongora’s money punch is his left, Spinks tended to dispatch opponents with his power-laden right hand, known to fans of that era as the “Spinks Jinx.”
Zavala, the opponent in Friday’s match, has earned a reputation as a strong, bullish, rough fighter who wins by mauling his opponents at close range. He has a professional record of 15-4, including 13 KO’s. Like most Mexican fighters, Zavala frequently unleashes hard, wide left-hooks to the head and body. He supplements his head-first offensive tactics by bobbing-and-weaving to dodge blows, and — unlike most Mexicans — he is not averse to dancing backwards in order to evade punches. At 5’11,” Zavala will be fighting at a height disadvantage against the rangy Gongora.
Although Zavala is regarded as a club fighter, he is distinguished in that he once lasted the distance against Jaime Munguia, the current WBO super-welterweight champion. The Munguia-Zavala match took place in 2015 in Tijuana, very early in the careers of both Mexican boxers. But considering that the hard-hitting Munguia is now regarded as one of the very best 154 pounders in the world, Zavala proved his mettle by finishing that bout on his feet.
Trained by Hector Bermudez and managed by Mike Criscio, Gongora has been promoted by Murphy’s Boxing since 2017. It is very probable that Gongora will eventually be rated among the world’s leading fighters in the middleweight and super-middleweight divisions.
In the main event on Friday’s promotion, NABA super-featherweight titleholder Abraham Nova defends his belt against Luis Ronaldo Castillo in a scheduled ten round bout. Nova is unquestionably the most advanced fighter on this evening’s card, as he is rated 6th worldwide by the World Boxing Association in the 130 lbs division. A native of Puerto Rico who was born to Dominican parents, Nova now lives in Albany, New York. His professional record is 15-0 with 11 KO’s. Nova was a heralded amateur, triumphing in 167 of 178 bouts and winning the prestigious New York Golden Gloves tournament five times. He also won the 2014 USA National Championships and participated in the 2015 US Olympic Qualifiers tournament. Nova is known for his exceptional athleticism, power, and speed of hand and foot. The Puerto Rican’s combination punching prowess, in addition to his ability to quickly alternate between offense and defense, has inspired many boxing experts to predict that he will eventually win a world championship.
Little is known about Castillo aside from his record, which is 20-3 with 15 KO’s. Castillo is 20 years old and has been fighting professionally since 2015. He has fought most of his bouts in his native Mexico. Earlier this year, Castillo fought twice in foreign countries and was knocked out both times. Australia’s Steve Spark stopped Castillo in four rounds in Toowoomba, and shortly after that, he was KO’d in four rounds by Jesus M. Rojas in Puerto Rico.
Another fighter with a stellar amateur background, Brian Ceballo, will appear on Friday’s card in a scheduled eight rounder. Ceballo, currently 9-0 with 4 KO’s, squares off against Luis Eduardo Florez of Colombia, who is 24-13 including 20 KO’s. Both fighters are welterweights. Ceballo’s amateur accomplishments include winning the 2014 Police Athletic League National Championships, taking first place in the 2016 National Golden Gloves Championships, and winning the US National Championships in 2017. Ceballo finished third in the 2015 US Olympic Trials.
The promotion will be rounded out by several other four round matches. Mansfield’s James Perella (4-0, 3 KO’s) faces Argentina’s Jose Aubel (8-5, 7 KO’s) in a welterweight fight. Perella is a tall, hard-hitting boxer who ranked among the nation’s best during his amateur career. In a cruiserweight bout, James Perkins squares off against Aaron Trecell Smith. Both fighters are from the Boston area and they are making their pro debuts. In another bout between debuting boxers, Brian Urday will face Greg Bono in the 135 lbs division. Both Urday and Bono are Boston area natives. The card will open with Boston’s Jonathan Depina making his pro debut against Michigan’s Robbie Thomas (0-1) in a lightweight bout.