Former WBO light heavyweight world champ and the first Mexican to capture a world title at 175 lb, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, died Saturday night, victim of a hit-and-run drunk driver while riding his motorcycle in his native Guerrero Negro, Baja California, Mexico.
Gonzalez, 35 at the time of his death, represented Mexico in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, but was eliminated in the first round by future world cruiserweight champ, Vasili Jirov.
As a pro, his biggest victory was a title-winning split decision in Germany against defending WBO light heavyweight champ, Dariusz Michalczewski in 2003. However, Gonzalez would lose the title three months later to Hungary’s Zsolt Erdei, also in Germany.
In his fourteen-year career, he would score noteworthy victories over Montell Griffin, Glen Johnson, David Telesco, and Julian Letterlough.
Gonzalez’s highest profile bout, though, was his 2001 unanimous decision loss to Roy Jones Jr. in a bid for Jones’ consensus, undisputed light heavyweight title. Other high-profile losses came against Clinton Woods, Tavoris Cloud, Zsolt Erdei, and Reggie Johnson.
Characterized as a tough battler with a big heart and underrated skill set, Gonzalez engaged in several memorable performances–notably the 2001 Letterlough battle, which featured a total of five knockdowns over twelve rounds (Gonzalez was down three times, Letterlough was down twice) before Gonzalez would take the unanimous decision.
Gonzalez last fought in September of last year, dropping a unanimous twelve-round decision to Felipe Romero and closing out his career with a record of 41-8, 25 KOs.
Gonzalez is survived by two children.
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