Gabriel Gonzaga may have retired from MMA, but the former UFC heavyweight title challenger isn’t done with combat sports. “Napao” is headed to the boxing ring on October 28th in his adopted home of Massachusetts.
"RPE is excited to have an athlete of Gonzaga's caliber making his pro debut on our NEF4 boxing event," promoter Jose Antonio Rivera said (via an official press release). "We are happy that boxers and MMA athletes trust us in terms of what we are trying to do to help them build their careers."
"When I first saw Gabriel sparring," Gonzaga's trainer Rocky Gonzalez said, "I knew he had potential to beat a lot of heavyweights around. He had a lot going on at that time and he was still under contract with the UFC. Now, it's a great opportunity for him."
The 38-year-old Gonzaga (17-11) ended his MMA career (unless he gets a six-figure contract) with a KO loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC Zagreb in April 2016. That fight marked the ninth time he’d lost by KO or TKO, including three times in his last four outings. Gonzaga is best known for his iconic head kick KO of Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70 in 2007, which led to a title fight against Randy Couture at UFC 74.
Unlike Conor McGregor, whose pro boxing debut was a blockbuster 12-round matchup against Floyd Mayweather, Gonzaga’s opponent is decidedly... bad. He is set for a four-rounder against Alando Pugh, whose record is a less-than-sparkling 1-10-1 (1 KOs). Nine of Pugh’s ten losses have come by stoppage, with eight of those occurring within two rounds. Here’s footage of one of his many defeats, a shoulder injury TKO against Cassius Chaney. (Courtesy of CES Boxing)
I’d say there’s a strong chance Gonzaga wins this one in front of his home fans.