Where did they go?

Jack Laidler
12/08/2017 2:24pm

Jack Laidler goes in search of three boxers who lapsed into obscurity after defeats at the hands of British opposition - Jose Gonzalez, Yoandris Salinas and Ismael Barroso...

In British boxing we have become accustomed to frequently seeing fighters with great promise suffer a disappointing defeat early in their respective careers.

Remember Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell losing his unbeaten record in just his thirteenth professional contest against the unfancied Yvan Mendy in December 2015?

There was also the crushing stoppage defeat that unbeaten prospect Charlie Edwards endured in his ninth outing on the undercard of Golovkin vs Brook last September, as he came up short in his IBF flyweight title challenge against John Riel Casimero.

Even worse, perhaps, was the first-round defeat Liverpool favourite Rocky Fielding experienced at the hands of his city rival Callum Smith in November 2015.

In all of these instances promising British fighters lost their unbeaten records and, perhaps worse, their career momentum. However, in each instance these fighters were able to make quick comebacks and cement their status again as talented fighters.

Fielding has gone on to claim a good win against Christopher Rebrasse as well as claiming the British title by beating John Ryder. Edwards has fought twice since and has also won the British strap, while Campbell has put together five straight victories and is now scheduled to challenge Jorge Linares for the WBA lightweight title.

It seems, however, that many quality fighters across the globe aren’t given such second chances after tasting defeat, even in cases where they put on excellent performances in front of large audiences.

Jose Gonzalez is a Puerto Rican boxer that began 2013 as an unbeaten prospect who was largely unknown in Britain. He had amassed a 22-0 record, winning and defending the WBO Latino lightweight title on multiple occasions. The problem was he had never fought outside of his homeland, so little was known of him.

He was then given the task of travelling to Glasgow to face the then WBO lightweight champion, Ricky Burns. In a fight many thought Burns would come through with relative ease, Gonzalez was able to start the fight on the front foot. He used his superior boxing skills to outbox Burns throughout the first six rounds. I had the Puerto Rican winning every round.

In the seventh Gonzalez visibly hurt his man as Burns swayed back into the ropes. He then unleashed a huge barrage to both head and body. He was however unable to stop the champion as Burns made it to the bell. This seemed to turn the tide as Gonzalez now looked exhausted. Burns was able to take the eight and ninth as any kind of work rate from the challenger disappeared.

At the end of the ninth round Gonzalez slumped onto his stool. He wouldn’t come back out for the tenth, claiming a wrist injury prevented him from being able to continue. At the time of the stoppage all three judges had Gonzalez three rounds up.

Since May 2013 Gonzalez has only fought three more times, claiming a couple of victories back in Puerto Rico before tasting defeat in Texas against the former two-time world title challenger Diego Magdaleno in June 2015.

The promise he showed in almost capturing a world title seems to have been wasted due to inactivity.

Yoandris Salinas is another world title challenger that has seemed to disappear rather quickly from the spotlight. Salinas had been a quality amateur boxer for Cuba before joining the professional ranks. He soon compiled an unbeaten 21-fight record with the only blemish being a draw over eight rounds against Nehomar Cermeno.

Unlike Gonzalez however he had travelled. Contests in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Nicaragua and the USA had aided his development before he faced the then unbeaten Scott Quigg in London for the WBA super-bantamweight title in October 2013.

Salinas started the fight well and was able to control the distance with his jab as Quigg moved forward. The slow pace suited the Cuban as he was able to pick off the man from Bury with short sharp shots. At the half way point I had Salinas up by five rounds.

As the fight wore on, however, Quigg was able to pick up the tempo and began to get closer to his opponent. He began to unleash his signature hooks to the body as Salinas began to wilt under the pressure. Quigg went on to dominate the second half of the fight hurting the challenger on numerous occasions. However Salinas heard the final bell as the contest went to the scorecards.

Two judges scored the fight 114-114 with the third giving it 115-113 to Quigg resulting in a majority draw.

After the draw Quigg held on to the WBA title for over two years before finally losing his unbeaten record in a unification fight with Carl Frampton.

Salinas, however, didn’t quite have the same success. Almost nine months later in his first fight since Quigg, he was stopped by the 15-7-1 Enrique Quevedo. Another nine months passed before his next outing, a facile victory against a 7-4 novice. In August 2015 he was stopped again, this time by the then unbeaten prospect Manuel Avila.

He has not fought since.

For a talented fighter like Salinas it is a case of what might have been had he remained active and received the correct backing after his close fight with Quigg.

Going into his fight with Anthony Crolla in May 2016, Ismael Barroso was building something of a reputation as a wrecking machine. He was unbeaten in his 21 contests and, most notably, he had claimed 18 stoppage wins. His TKO victory over fan favourite Kevin Mitchell just six months earlier had shocked British fight fans.

Crolla had just defeated Darlys Perez and was making the first defence of his WBA lightweight title. After seeing what Barroso had inflicted on Mitchell, many were predicting another stoppage win for the Venezuelan.

Barroso started the fight as many predicted, peppering the guard of Crolla with heavy shots looking to stop the champion early. Crolla kept his guard tight and barely threw a shot. Barroso followed Crolla around the ring catching the Manchester man with cuffing shots to the head.

After five rounds the challenger was clearly up on the scorecards but had been unable to make a real dent. Towards the end of the fifth, Barroso began to tire and his shots began to carry less power. Seeing this, Crolla came out of his shell, increasing his work rate.

Crolla began landing frequently as Barroso wilted. With nothing left in the tank Barroso was dropped with a body shot in the seventh and was unable to beat the referee's count.

It has been over 12 months since that exciting contest and Barroso is yet to compete again, although he has a contest scheduled for October.

For such an exciting and powerful boxer it seems a real shame that he could fade into obscurity instead of continuing to compete at the elite level.

For all of these fighters it seems that inactivity and a lack of direction is the reason for their sharp disappearance from our screens.

Luckily for many fighters in Britain, the opportunity for a second chance is never too far away.