He may not be a well-known super-middleweight champion, but IBO title holder Carlos Gongora believes he can mix it with the best.

Gongora (19-0, 14 KOs) sprang to prominence with a last gasp, 12th round stoppage of Kazakh hope Ali Akhmedov to win the vacant IBO crown in December. That stirring victory caught the eye of promoter Eddie Hearn who offered the unbeaten Ecuadorian a deal.

Now Gongora is hopefully eyeing unified world champion Canelo Alvarez and the super-middleweight division’s elite, assuming he navigates his first defence against American Christopher Pearson (17-2, 12 KOs) on the Demetrius Andrade vs Liam Williams undercard at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, in Florida this Saturday. 

Having previously struggled for recognition in boxing’s shadows, Gongora believes he is now on the cusp of defining fights.

“I went through some pretty hard times,” said Gongora. “I still kept my hopes up, the will to keep fighting, the dream of becoming a world champion, and it came, thank God.

“Hector [Bermudez] was always telling me to keep going, keep training. He would push me. And we kept training, we stayed in shape and I told myself I’d been [in America] a long time and wasn’t going to fight. So, I went back to Ecuador and stayed there a while, I was training but not at 100 per cent. I was going on runs and staying in shape, until they called me to tell me we had a fight with Akhmedov and we only had around 15 days to prepare.

“I went into the second round and got hit by a really powerful shot, I mean, he hit me in the back of my head. But I had that will… the will to fight, that will get me through those moments. We kept improving as the rounds went on and, in this case, technique prevailed and the preparation I made in order to win the fight.

“I really, really wanted to win it. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity that presented itself. It was something that helped me stay on my feet. I said I wouldn’t go down until the final bell rang, and that pushed me forward until I got the victory.

“My uncle is Segundo Mercado. He’s someone who fought for world championships. He fought Bernard Hopkins, he challenged twice for the world title. He couldn’t get them, but I followed in his footsteps and got the world title. 

“In order to become number one, you have to fight the best, so I am waiting for the opportunity to present itself to fight against Canelo Alvarez. It’s a dream I’ve always had since I started boxing professionally, and that’s what I keep chasing and hoping that one day the opportunity to fight him will present itself.”

Main image: Matchroom Boxing.