Gonzalez faces Segura in crossroads fight

Veteran Giovani Segura (right) stands in the way of Jonathan Gonzalez's future plans at flyweight. Joel Colon/PR Best Boxing promotion

SAN JUAN -- Boxing's oldest cliched tale -- the up-and-coming youngster facing the veteran looking for a second chance and hoping there is still gas left in the tank -- will be revived when Puerto Rico's Jonathan Gonzalez and Mexico's Giovani Segura meet here on Saturday.

But there's an extra ingredient that could spice up this clash: The winner would earn a shot to face current unified flyweight titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada before the end of 2013.

Gonzalez (13-0, 11 KOs), 22, will try to leverage all of his experience from the amateur ranks when he faces Segura, a two-time former beltholder who is coming off a loss in May against countryman Edgar Sosa, but who has dominated Puerto Rican fighters recently.

There hasn't been a great deal of trash-talking in the lead-up to the fight, which will headline the card taking place at El San Juan Resort & Casino. But then again, it hasn't been altogether absent. Both fighters seem to understand the fight storyline -- and the stakes.

"He is at a point where, if he loses against me, he might face two options: either remain as a step for somebody else or just retire," Gonzalez said. "Personally, I don't consider Segura to be just another step. He is another challenge in my career, and I know that all his words just want to shake my focus. But every word he says is just pure motivation to me. It seems that he desperately wants to wear the white hat in this movie."

Segura (29-3-1, 15 KOs), in response to several Gonzalez posts on social media -- that the fight would end quickly, among other comments -- claims that his opponent is simply a young, inexperienced kid.

"Gonzalez is a rookie -- a rookie who hasn't fought for a world title yet," Segura said. "But I get his attitude, although he might still not get the point. He is an immature kid who is using social media to send messages. I read them but don't bother to reply. There are a thousand ways to talk to an opponent. This is just a sport, not a war where you are supposed to kill your enemy. But I understand, it's because of his lack of maturity. And boy, will he grow up on Saturday."

To Puerto Rican fans, Segura is a familiar face. In 2010, he won in dramatic fashion against Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon to strip him of the light flyweight title -- a bit of an upset after Segura, at the time, seemed a target for an easy defeat.

In the rematch a year later, Segura won again. For Saturday's fight, he is betting on his experience and power punching to carry him against Calderon's countryman.

"You don't realize how hard Giovani Segura punches until you step inside the ring to face him wearing an 8-ounce glove and you take a punch -- either well hit or just blocking it," Segura said. "We'll see if after the first round Gonzalez steps up or shuts up. Many fighters say when predicting the outcome of a match that the knockout comes by itself, but in my case, I always go out and try to get the KO. I'm well trained to do that. I just love the knockout."

Segura, even at age 31 and having been involved in some punishing brawls, figures to be a difficult test for Gonzalez and could help determine whether "Bomba" is ready to move to the next level to face Estrada.

And adding to the intrigue will be the absence of Segura's longtime trainer, Arturo Mota, who died in July. Saturday's bout will be the fighter's first without Mota in his corner.

Might Segura benefit from the extra motivation for a fight that he has dedicated to Mota? Could his focus or comfort level be affected by the changes in his corner, particularly given that Mota had always handled the wrapping of Segura's hands?

"Mota used to joke that once he no longer was in charge of the bandage wrapping, I would learn the difference and truly appreciate his work," Segura said.

All joking aside, Segura shouldn't take for granted any distractions or upheaval -- Mario Morales is now in charge of wrapping Segura's hands -- against an opponent as young, gifted and confident as Gonzalez.

"My plan is to fight," Gonzalez said. "I've got a good punch as well, and I've got experience. Plus, I'm smart ... and he is not. I'm 100 percent and waiting for the bell to ring."