World-rated super middleweight Carlos Gongora will face unbeaten contender Christian Mbilli at the Montreal Casino, Montreal, Canada, on Thursday.
It’s an opportunity for the Ecuador-born fighter to re-establish himself at 168-pounds having lost his unbeaten tag in December 2021 to Lerrone Richards (SD 12).
“It’s going to be a good fight, I have trained really hard for this fight,” Gongora (21-1, 16 knockouts) told The Ring. “He puts on a lot of pressure. I see this fight as the next fight. I had 400 fights, amateur and pro, so I have a lot of experience.”
The 33-year-old southpaw says that loss precluded him from facing the best the division has to offer but if he can get the win against Mbilli he will be a viable opponent again.
“The door was closed for me, but this is a good opportunity to open that door,” he said. “If I win, I’ll get a chance to fight [Caleb] Plant, [David] Benavidez or [undisputed champion] Canelo [Alvarez].”
In fact, he had been shortlisted to face Canelo in December 2020.
“It was very close, but they gave the opportunity to another guy, [Callum Smith] from England,” he revealed.
Gongora represented his country at the 2007, 2009 and 2011 World Championships and 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He decided in 2015 to make the transition from unpaid ranks to the professional side of the sport.
“In 1972 boxing was very popular there but then it went down,” he explained. “There was only one title fight there, when Segundo Mercado fought Bernard Hopkins [for the vacant IBF middleweight title in 1994.]
“In Ecuador, I wasn’t fighting a lot, so I didn’t get a chance to fight professionally. In 2007, when I was doing amateur boxing, there was a lot of people looking at me. There was a guy in Canada who gave me a blank check but I said, ‘No.’ Then there was Don King and I said, ‘No.’
“I moved to turn professional. I went to New York, there was a manager who said, ‘Come over here and your career is going to be better.’”
Since then, he’s continued living in Ecuador but comes to train in Boston. His professional career was a slow burn until he scored a come-from behind knockout to upset touted prospect Ali Akhmedov (KO 12) on the undercard of Gennadiy Golovkin-Kamil Szeremeta in December 2020. He followed that by stopping Chris Pearson (KO 8) but suffered a setback against Richards in England and has fought once since.
All though the fight isn’t taking place in Ecuador, it will be on TV in South America, so his countrymen can watch him perform.
“Yes, everybody is happy because they can watch the fight in Ecuador,” he said proudly. “There are 18 million and everybody will watch. It will be another fight for them, it’s not only for them but to represent Ecuador.”
This looks a very evenly poised fight. Mbilli will bring steady pressure and look to back up Gongora. That will suit the South American, who likes to use his southpaw skills on the outside. I expect an evenly contested fight but feel Mbilli’s greater work ethic will see him home by hard fought by deserved unanimous decision.
Cameroon-born Mbilli (23-0, 20 KOs), The Ring’s No. 5-rated super middleweight, represented France at the 2016 Olympics, losing to eventual gold medalist Arlen Lopez at the quarter-final stage.
He moved to Canada, and after taking the usual steps has started to work his way up the rankings impressively dominating Ronald Ellis (UD 10), scoring an eye-catching knockout over former world title challenger Nadjib Mohammedi (KO 5) and blitzed DeAndre Ware (KO 2). The all-action fighter has caught the eye and is part of the new breed in the division.
Mbilli-Gongora, plus undercard bouts will be streamed on ESPN+ starting at 7:00 p.m. ET/ 4:00 p.m. PT.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].