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Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS
Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS
Mathew Gonzalez is declared the winner by unanimous decision at the Barclays center, his first fight in New York as a pro.

Local prodigy Mathew Gonzalez maintained his undefeated record when he made his Barclays Center debut on Saturday night in front his friends and family from Ridgewood.

Also known as “Lefty Gunz,” Gonzalez extended his professional boxing record to 3-0 in his young career with a victory over fellow Queens native Alexander Serna. Gonzalez won by unanimous decision, with all three of the judges scoring the fight 40-36 in his favor. While Gonzalez and his team admitted that it wasn’t his best performance, the fighter was glad he got the opportunity to fight on such a big stage.

“It was a much different atmosphere I never experienced before, especially being at the Barclays Center under the big lights,” Gonzalez said. “Now I got the jitters off, so next fight I’ll be much better since I already know what to expect.”

If Gonzalez was nervous coming into the fight, he didn’t show it. When the 22-year-old made his entrance to the ring, he wore a gorilla mask as the song “Set Trippin” by Casanova played in the background. When he ducked under the ropes, Gonzalez did a lap around the ring beating his chest with his right hand. The gorilla mask, he said, reflects his mindset as a fighter.

“I’ve got the things you can’t teach and I’ve got that natural heart,” Gonzalez said. “I come to fight always.”

When the mask came off, the first of four rounds, three minutes each, began with the ding of the bell. The fighters danced around the ring and not many punches were thrown as they tried to get a feel for their opponent. Neither fighter had a clear advantage after the first round.

Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS

Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS

Gonzalez took control from there. In the second round he showed off the speed of his hands, as the southpaw landed combinations punctuated by his strong left hook. The crowd also began to make its presence felt, as chants of “Mat! Mat! Mat!” could be heard throughout the arena.

One of the most important aspects of boxing, where promoters are responsible for choosing fighters for an event, is the number of tickets a fighter can sell. According to Jenny Badillo, Gonzalez’s fiancee and owner of International Boxing & Fitness Club in Ridgewood where Gonzalez trains, the “Lefty Gunz” team sold nearly 180 tickets, with more than 100 of them coming from the Ridgewood area.

“We’re turning heads, big numbers are coming out, and we’re putting Ridgewood on the map,” Badillo said. “We want them to see that we have them in mind and that we appreciate everything they do, so we are definitely going to go back with our victory and talk to everybody.”

In rounds three and four, Gonzalez continued to be tactical in placing his punches, but he did get sloppy at times and leave himself open to get hit. After the fight, well-known promoter Lou DiBella told Gonzalez that he wouldn’t have gotten away with that if he was fighting someone as talented as he is.

Gonzalez’s trainer for the past three years, Eric Roman, was ringside during the fight and agreed that there are plenty of teaching points to build on from what he saw.

“He’s got to box a little more, use his jab a little more, make it look pretty,” Roman said. “What I say is, ‘Let’s make it brutally beautiful.’ We look nice, but we’re really putting pain in.”

Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS

Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS

During the last minute of the fourth round the fighters threw a flurry of punches in a sense of desperation. When the final bell rang, they immediately stopped and hugged each other, a sign of mutual respect from the New York natives. The referee joined them, placing his hands on top of their heads and commending them for their efforts.

A minute later, the referee grabbed Gonzalez’s left hand and hoisted it into the air. For the Ridgewood native who attended P.S. 239, I.S. 77 and Grover Cleveland High School, Gonzalez said this is only the beginning.

“I’m not here for the short term, I’m here for the long term,” he said. “I want to be on the big stage and have my face on the posters. This is just the next step for me up that ladder.”

Gonzalez’s performance earned him contracts for two more fights already, Badillo said. On March 10, “Lefty Gunz” will fight at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, and he could return to the Barclays Center as soon as April.

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