On Friday, May 26, 2017, Kazakhstan’s Kanat Islam (24-0, 19 KOs) took on Mexico’s Norberto Gonzalez (23-9, 13 KOs) in the main event of a fight card presented by NelSons Promotions at the Boca Raton Resort and Spa.
The power-punching Kazakh fighter came into the match riding a 23-fight undefeated streak and had a potential bout against well-known Middleweight contender, James Kirkland, hanging in the balance.
Kirkland, who was scheduled to fight Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto earlier this year before being sidelined with an injury, was ringside for the bout.
The fight between Islam and Gonzalez was scheduled for 12 rounds with the vacant WBO NABO Super Welterweight title and vacant WBA Inter-Continental Super Welterweight title.
Ranked No. 4 by the WBA and No. 6 by the WBO, Islam came out possessed, looking to set the tone behind an active jab to the head and body.
Gonzalez was no slouch though, pumping his jab and countering with solid rights throughout.
Islam switched to southpaw a few times in Round 2, but didn’t find much success doing so as he looked to blast through Gonzalez’s tight guard.
By Round 3, the 32-year-old Islam was in full pressure mode, cornering Gonzalez and landing hard liver shots.
Islam was hyper focused on the body on Gonzalez, but the referee warned Islam for a low blow in Round 3 which slowed down Islam’s pressure a bit.
The middle rounds saw Islam having more success trapping Gonzalez against the ropes and landing power shots.
If this bout showed anything, it was that Islam repeatedly showed that he doesn’t mind mixing it up and has little regard for defense.
This will be something that will keep fans on the edge of their seats in a fight against Kirkland, who also loves to slug it out on the inside with no regard for defense.
As the rounds went on, Gonzalez dug deep to occasionally get the best of some tough inside exchanges as blood and sweat flew freely.
But, Gonzalez spent the better part of the later rounds swinging his hands in the air, complaining of what he considered to be deliberate headbutts. It was becoming clear that Gonzalez did not have anything in his arsenal to earn Islam’s respect as the Kazakh fighter continued to come forward.
In the final round, the referee finally took a point from Islam for repeatedly elbowing Gonzalez throughout the bout—something that didn’t seem all that intentional, but Islam had been warned multiple times.
Kirkland entered the ring to hear the official scores, which read 115-112, 116-111 and 120-109 all for Kanat Islam.
In the post-fight interview, Islam discussed his mindset for the bout.
“My opponent was very strong and I trained for my distance. Defense, offense, this is boxing. This is my next step for a big fight,” said Islam.
That next fight will be against Kirkland, which was announced for September 9 in Kazakhstan.