Bombs Away: Unbeaten 122-pound contender Jonathan Guzman may be small, but he packs a big punch

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Jonathan Guzman was lingering in the wings at Agganis Arena in Boston back in May, waiting his turn to close the show against Christian Esquivel, a former 122-pound title contender who would represent the unbeaten Dominican’s most difficult obstacle to date.

Jonathan Guzman

Jonathan Guzman celebrates after stopping Christian Esquivel in the fifth round of their 122-pound bout in May. It was Guzman's 19th knockout in 19 career fights. (Susanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions)

While doing his final prep work in the locker room, Jonathan Guzman heard the crowd roar. Then he heard it again. And again. Out in ring, Boston-area favorite—and Guzman stablemate—Danny O’Connor was doing a number on Chris Gilbert, scoring five knockdowns en route to a fifth-round stoppage in their 147-pound contest.

After O’Connor’s lights-out performance, trainer Hector Bermudez gave Guzman some final pre-fight instructions, which included something along the lines of “Go out there and do what Danny just did.”

“I love the technical aspects of boxing, and all of my guys have high IQs, study together and they’re able to use their heads,” Bermudez says. “I don’t usually care about knockouts, but I definitely want knockouts with Guzman. I just love his record.”

About that record: Guzman walked into the ring against Esquivel at 18-0 … with all 18 wins by knockout. Moments later, he was 19-0 with 19 KOs following a vicious, unrelenting beatdown that forced Esquivel’s corner to throw in the towel after the fifth round.

“Guzman beat up Esquivel to the head and body with both hands, hurting him every time he touched him,” Bermudez says of his fighter, who has yet to be taken beyond six rounds.

The 26-year-old looks to make it 20 KOs in as many tries Saturday when he faces Danny Aquino (17-2, 10 KOs) in a 122-pound clash at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts (NBCSN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). The bout will precede O’Connor’s 147-pound headlining rematch against Gabriel Bracero.

“Guzman has sharp, explosive punching power that connects like a sledgehammer,” Bermudez says. “I won’t be surprised if [Guzman] goes the distance, but if he does, the other guy’s going to take a lot of leather.”

Danny Aquino is a warrior and a nonstop puncher, but he won’t withstand my knockout power. It doesn’t matter if he’s from Mexico or another country, I can put you to sleep. Jonathan Guzman

Saturday's fight is guaranteed to be historic from this perspective: While Guzman has destroyed every opponent who’s dared to enter the ring with him, Aquino—a 25-year-old native of Mexico—has never been KO’d. 

Something’s gotta give.

“Aquino is a warrior and a nonstop puncher, but he won’t withstand my knockout power,” Guzman says. “It doesn’t matter if he’s from Mexico or another country, I can put you to sleep.” 

Guzman will be out for redemption of sorts against Aquino (17-2, 10 KOs), whose last fight was a split-decision victory in April over Ryan Kielczewski, who works in the same camp as Guzman and O’Connor. Kielczewski represented Aquino’s second straight victory since a unanimous-decision loss to Norberto Jimenez in March 2013.

“I want that victory back for Ryan and the team, and I’m ready for 15 toe-to-toe rounds if that’s what it takes,” Guzman says. “I have a nice following in Massachusetts, so I want to give them my best and continue my knockout streak. But it’s going to be a good fight, and the most important thing is to win.”

Kielczewski (23-1, 27 KOs) rebounded from the loss to Aquino with a first-round stoppage of Anthony Napunyi on the Guzman-Esquivel card in May. He’ll once again fight under O’Connor and Guzman on Saturday when he faces Rafael Vazquez (16-1, 13 KOs) on a card that will also include Bermudez coaching camp member Fernando Saucedo in a 135-pound bout against Carlos Fulgencio. 

“This is like a team sport for us, and as the last one to fight on the last card, there was a little pressure on me after seeing Danny and Ryan get their knockouts,” Guzman says. “It’s great being on the same card again on Saturday with other guys on our team. 

"It motivates me to see one knockout after another, and we’re all starting to win that way. That’s why it’s important to keep my streak going.”

For complete coverage of Guzman vs Aquino, be sure to visit our fight page.

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