You would think that a boxer who won his first 52 bouts would get some recognition. Especially if he won 50 of those fights by knockouts. Quite an impressive streak that Rodolfo “Gato” Gonzalez started in 1959. Nevertheless, there would be many turns ahead for Rodolfo on the road to stardom.
Rodolfo Gonzalez was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1945. All 52 of his wins took place in Mexico against boxers with less then stellar records. Still he was learning his trade. Gonzalez made his U.S. debut in 1963 and suffered his first loss when he was stopped in the tenth round by Licho Guerrero at the famous Olympic Auditorium.
Gonzalez would not return to the ring for nearly three years. When he returned he lost on points to a pretty good fighter named Bobby Valdez. A return bout ended as a first round technical draw so Rodolfo and Bobby hooked up a third time. Valdez halted Rodolfo in the ninth round. Finding little gold in California, Gonzalez went to Las Vegas and won three straight before dropping a decision to tough Alton Colter.
Rodolfo returned to the west coast and he put together a twelve bout win streak. This led to a 1970 match against Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes. In an action packed fight Rodolfo lost in the eighth round due to a cut. Undaunted Rodolfo put together another series of victories that led to a bout with Chango Carmona for the WBC lightweight title. In a spectacular performance Gonzalez dominated Carmona to force a stoppage after round thirteen. Finally Rodolfo was a world champion.
The year was 1972 and Roberto Duran was considered the “real” lightweight boxing champion. This claim would be disputed by former champion Ken Buchanan and a rising star named Esteban DeJesus. With his win over Carmona and a piece of the title, Rodolfo was to be reckoned with. In his first defense he took on rugged Ruben Navarro. The two had met before Rodolfo won the title with Gonzalez winning a very close points call. This time as “champion” Rodolfo fought a much better fight beating the game Navarro in nine rounds. Next up would be Italian contender Antonio Puddu. Gonzalez fought well stopping Puddu in the tenth.
It was April of 1974 and Gonzalez put his title on line against Japan’s Ishimatsu “Guts” Suzuki in Tokyo. Suzuki had lost in previous title attempts to Ismael Laguna and Roberto Duran. He would not fail this time as he stopped Gonzalez in the eighth round to win the championship. Rodolfo would return to Japan seven months later in hope of regaining his crown. Again Suzuki, was too strong for him and Gonzalez lost in round thirteen. That would be Rodolfo’s last contest.
In his outstanding career Gonzalez had 89 fights. His record ended up at 81-7-1 with 71 knockout victories.