SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Salinas welterweight boxer, Gerardo Contreras Gonzalez, is making his U.S. debut on Tuesday squaring up against Aaron Aponte at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The 25-year-old fighter was born and raised in Salinas. His father, Emilio Gonzalez, noticed his 13-year-old son at the time was becoming overweight and signed him up to boxing classes at Salinas Boxing Club.
"Honestly, I never really liked boxing," Gerardo said. "My dad was a big boxing fan and he just got me into the sport, because I was real chubby, real fat and he just got me into the sport to lose weight and I lost weight. And little by little, I started liking it."
Gerardo's first competition was in 2013 at the Rock Boxing Gym in Salinas. Then in 2016, he competed in Red Shield Boxing Show where, on top of winning his fight, he also earned a bigger trophy for Best Bout. His father said it was the best fight of the night.
Over time, Gerardo continued to train and his father noticed he was starting to get frustrated as he outgrew the ring in his hometown.
"It's really hard to fight here because you have to go somewhere else to find matches," said Emilio. "Boxing isn't that big here."
Gerardo attended Everett Alvarez High School and finished his GED at Hartnell College, where he earned his certificate in Agriculture Food Safety. But one day, he was sitting in his car after running on the track and he realized:
"Something came in my head that I needed to continue with my boxing career and I needed to take it to the next level and get seen," Gerardo said. "Something came into my mind that, I needed to move to Vegas. So I saved up a little money. And I'm out here now."
In 2018, Gerardo moved to the capital of boxing in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he's trained with some of the best athletes in the country. Last year in February, Gerardo was recruited to fight in his first amateur match in Hermosillo, Mexico just before the pandemic and again in November.
Winning both matches, Gerardo was ready to fight in his first big show in Miami headlining Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos in June this year. But the match ended up being postponed after Lopez tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite the short setback, Gerardo continued to train. Now, he’s scheduled to fight in one of the most famous venues in the country, Madison Square Garden in New York City. Gonzalez will be boxing against 20-year-old Aaron Aponte in the junior welterweights on August 3rd.