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[Previous entry: "ESPN2’s TUESDAY NIGHT FIGHTS- June 15th"] [Main Index] [Next entry: "Jermain Taylor At The Crossroads"]

06/14/2004 Archived Entry: "Al “Speedy” Gonzales Ready to Break Sound Barrier on ESPN2 against Hopkins"

Al “Speedy” Gonzales Ready to Break Sound Barrier on ESPN2 against Hopkins
By Juan C. Ayllon

gonzalesbio (14k image)

Back in the late 40’s, a band of pilots whose names were unknown by the general public traveled from all across the country and banded together in the High Desert of California seeking to break the “Sound Barrier.” It was extremely dangerous work and a lot of men died trying. However, one test pilot by the name of Chuck Yeager finally pulled it off in a small plane called the X-1 and went onto greater acclaim as the years went by.

Chicago junior welterweight fighter Al “Speedy” Gonzales has made a somewhat similar trek to California in pursuit of achieving his dreams. Whereas Al is staying in Orange County—a good couple hours away from the High Desert, where no one dies in training camp nor pilots hazardous experimental aircraft—he’s never the less embarked on a hazardous journey designed to break through personal barriers and reach new heights in his career. According to Gonzales’ manager, Pat Doljanin, there were certain distractions in Chicago that held him back. The move to California would not only eliminate those distractions, but also give him new opportunities in terms of quality training.

This Friday, Al Gonzales (14-0-1, 7 KO’s) will be fighting undefeated Demetrius Hopkins (14-0-1, 6 KO’s), nephew of World Middleweight Champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, in what is projected to be a terrific challenge and his biggest test to date.

Yeager1A (25k image)Chuck Yeager

Photo courtesy of

In his autobiography entitled, “Yeager,” Chuck Yeager credited cerebral friend and pilot Jack Ridley with helping him pass critical engineering coursework in advanced flight training. Similarly, Gonzales has enlisted the services of premiere boxing trainer, Jesse Reid to get him through Friday’s test. Speedy expects nothing less than passing this test with ‘flying colors.’

Al Gonzales spoke at length with the CBZ about preparations, training and his near term outlook on his career.

Juan Ayllon: Many regard Hopkins to be your biggest test thus far, how do you feel just days away fromt he fight?

Al Gonzales: I’m doing good. I’m just ready to rock and roll for this fight, you know. Over here, I’ve been working with these good, little young fighters jogging me on my roadwork. So, yeah, I’m ready.

JA: Tell us what concerns you have going into the Hopkins fight.

AG: Well, nothing really. Man, I don’t know what to say about that now.

JA: More specifically, what will you be looking out for from this guy? He’s tall, he’s rangy—

AG [interjecting]: Yeah, he’s tall and he’s got a little long arms. Basically he ain’t got nothing I’m not gonna be afraid of, you know, ‘cause all he basically is is a good boxer. So, I know I just need to come in at him, you know, stay on the inside. I know he don’t like being pressured.

JA: Are you concerned about his punching at all?

AG: No, not really.

JA: Though you haven't tasted his power, how would you rate him as compared to—say—Jesse Feliciano in terms of his punching ability?

AG: I don't? Feliciano is tough, you know, I think Feliciano is tough!

JA: What I've noticed in some of your fights is that you have a tendency to drop back towards the ropes. Is that something you are trying to get away from or is that something you want to stay with?

AG: Well, yeah, that I gotta get away from, you know. Sometimes I like to use the ropes just to slip the punches, too, you know. But, yeah, I don’t want to do it too much. I think it was basically because I was out of air, too, I think.

JA: What have you been doing to address some of the concerns regarding Demetrius Hopkins, like the rangy, long arms and the boxing and all that?

AG: Well, there’s a fighter up here that basically has the same style as him. I don’t remember his name. He’s just about the same, a little taller. He’s got the same style as Hopkins. So, yeah, I’ve been working with him a couple days.

JA: What has working with Jesse Reid as a trainer been like?

AG: Oh, it’s been a lot better. You know, it’s learning a lot of new stuff up here, you know. It’s like, man, you see more better head movement in my skills, you know? It’s better, you know, so yeah.

JA: What are some of the other new things that you’ve seen like? You’ve mentioned the head movement. What are some other things?

AG: I cannot say. You know, keep the hands up instead of letting the person come in too. Just I’ve been throwing a lot more punches, too, so…they’ve been killing me up here!

JA: Do you feel a difference in your stamina from the high altitude?

AG: Oh yeah, it’s super high! [Laughing] It’s better than where it was before! The reason I wanted to come up here [was] ‘cause you know I know that in Chicago there ain’t no fighters out there that want to work out with me. You know, no sparring and no nobody who can run with me! You know, in my town, there ain’t no fighters over there that…basically like to run and stuff. So, you know, I told them [Doljanin, et al] that they’ve got to send me out. So, they sent me out this way. So, okay, cool! And, you know, I’ve been basically running like rabbits over here, you know! [Laughing, along with other boxers in the background]. So, yeah, you know, I’ve left them and they come, schooled me up, just go run. Ah, okay!

JA: How far are you running?

AG: Four miles. It depends. Sometimes we be running eight miles.

JA: Are you using interval training—say you jog at a certain pace and then you do some wind sprints for a little while and then you slow down again—or how are you doing that?

AG: Well, we try to keep one steady pace. You know—how can I say this—not as fast as ‘fast’, but when we come in to the end, when we’re coming in before we stop, we just pick up the pace all the way. We keep a long, steady pace. We just kind of relax.

JA: From what I understand, you were going not only to train at Reid’s gym, but several others to take advantage of sparring with different guys. Can you elaborate on that?

AG: No, we haven’t had a chance yet on that. We’ve been trying to get into it, but, you know, Jesse’s been busy lately right now ‘cause he has a couple of his fighters [that] had fights. So, we went to San Francisco to check out the fights. So, yeah, we haven’t had a good chance to go out anywhere to train at other camps right now.

JA: So, you’ve been strictly at Jesse Reid’s gym? What’s the name of the gym, anyway?

AG: It’s called ‘Tommy’s Gym.’

JA: So, you didn’t get a chance to get up to Big Bear or Johnny Tocco’s?

AG: Not yet.

JA: Now, I hear that you and Paul Spadaforda hit it off and were spending time together. What was the chemistry all about?

AG: It was good, you know. It’s just Jesse liked it that, you know, we basically hit the same pace. So, yeah, we haven’t worked out, we haven’t gotten in any sparring sessions yet, but I think we’ll probably end up starting tomorrow, on Monday. That would be good. I would like to work with him, you know.

JA: I heard that you were impressed with Spadaforda as a fighter. Did you get a good look at him sparring?

AG: Well, yeah, I’m ready. I’m gonna work with him. It’s like he’s been talking to everybody, you know, ‘what do you think about Speedy?’ You know, everybody’s like ‘hey, (Speedy's) a good worker, you know.’ He said that he’s been asking everybody. ‘Cause we basically train at different times, so…

JA: Now, you’re working out in the morning and he works out in the evening?

AG: No, he works out in the morning and then runs at night. So, I run in the morning and work out at nighttime.

JA: Have you learned anything in observing him to help you as a fighter?

AG: No, not yet, ‘cause we haven’t spent no time. Like, you know, we just barely see each other once in boxing a few minutes, that’s it…we haven’t spent time like we should have lately. I have hardly had a chance to see him, you know.

JA: Now, who have you sparred with?

AG: I’ve just sparred with—ooh, I don’t remember his name—all these faces fight for Jesse Reid’s fighters, so yeah.

JA: You don’t remember their names?

AG: Oh, yeah, Johnny Flag and…Shaun Plessis. Yeah, he’s ‘six and oh’ right now, he’s an up and coming fighter. So, they’ve been giving me real work. They're all lightweights.

JA: Elaborate on what you do in the afternoon portion of your workout.

AG: At the gym, I, jump rope for 30 minutes, just basically workout in the ring, you know for six to eight rounds and we go hit the heavy bag about three rounds, double end and there’s some other different bags they got, you know, they workin’ with me, some new bags I’ve never heard of! Different kind bags, so you hit ‘em.

JA: Are you also working with weights?

AG: No, not yet. No, I haven’t been working weights. No, I haven’t had my trainer that does me with weights, but I’ve just been doing pushups and stuff like that.

JA: Are you doing ‘Plyometrics’, like where you do explosive pushups, where you clap your hands at the top?

AG: Yeah, yup.

JA: What’s your diet like? Are you eating meat and vegetables, for instance?

AG: No, right now, it’s basically—today, it’s been nothing but fruit.

JA: Okay, today was nothing but fruit, but what about during the week? Are you eating protein then as well?

AG: During the week—this whole week—I’ve just basically been eating nothing but fruit, so I basically just come right back down to it.

JA: So you’re doing that to cut down, right?

AG: Yeah, to cut down my weight.

JA: How are you handling the lifestyle in Southern California? My experience was that things were much faster in L.A. than in Chicago. How are you staying out of trouble?

AG: Well, I haven’t been to no—it’s nice. I don’t know. It’s just basically been that I’ve been in the hotel and then going out with these guys to shoot pool, go watch a movie or so and that’s just about it.

JA: So, you’ve got some guys who act as a support group of sorts for you?

AG: Yeah, they’re fighters. Right now, I’m chillin’ with them at the ‘crib.’

JA: How do you address the critic’s premise that one month or so with Jesse Reid would be too little to make a difference for you?

AG: It made me a big change over here. [Clearly,] They don’t know too much about boxing!

JA: Regarding Francisco Bojado, do you have any immediate term plans for him?

AG: Well, yeah, well, Bojado, I’m basically gonna, you know, see what happens after this bout. Basically, I’ve been wanting to catch that sh*t talker, dude, Malignaggi. That’s who I want to fight with first, then Bojado. Yeah, that’s who I want to handle my business first with. I didn’t have nothin’ wrong with him, but now that he’s been running his mouth too much, I’ve got something I’ve got to have a talk to him [about]. You know, I’ll let my fists do the talking once we get in the ring.

JA: Assuming all goes well with him, would you then like to fight Bojado next or would you like to take a tune up fight or two beforehand?

AG: Yeah, I would probably take a tune up fight before I fought Bojado.

JA: Since the last time we talked, do you have any title aspirations in the next year or two?

AG: Yeah, I think if I make it, maybe in a year or so…whichever title I get a chance for. I just want one!

JA: Are you planning on staying at junior welterweight or do you plan on moving up?

AG: Well, yeah, I’ll probably end up staying at welterweight, see what happens, you know? I have problems with my diet; it’s hard to get the weight down.JA: So you plan on moving up to welterweight eventually?

AG: Yes. Yeah, I think a couple more fights, I’m going to stay at junior welterweight, so yeah.

JA: Any other thoughts?

AG: I just hope all the fans out there hopefully come check me out live at night, they can check it out on TV, come and see how I put on a show, you know!

The question remains, will Al “Speedy” Gonzales’ break through to the next level in his intriguing match against Demetrius Hopkins, or will he ‘crash and burn’? Come out and see for yourself! The bout, which will also be the feature bout on ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights, will take place at the DePaul Athletic Center in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, June 18th.

Other bouts on the card include: Kendall Holt, (15-0, 11KO's) vs. Tommy Davis, (8-1, 4KO's), 8 rounds, junior welterweights; David Estrada, (4-1, 2KO's) vs. Shay Mobley, (6-2-1, 2KO's) 6 rounds, middleweights; Tommy Bach, (1-0) vs. Danny Schlienz, (4-4-1, 3KO's), 4 rounds lightweights; Sammy Merza, (13-0, 10KO's) vs. TBA, 4 rounds, middleweights and Jermaine White, (2-0, 1KO) vs. TBA, 4 rounds lightweights.

The DePaul Athletic Center is located at 2323 N. Sheffield in Chicago. Doors open at 7 PM and the first bell will be at 8 PM. Fight fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by calling 312-226-5800 in order to assure entry.

Gonzalez photo courtesy of

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