Jonathan Guzman’s ritual has been the same before each of his professional fights: He leaves his wife, Carolina, and their three young sons in the Dominican Republic, heads to America for a training camp lasting from six to eight weeks, then returns home within days of knocking out his opponent.
“It’s always a tough conversation of ‘I do this for you guys,’ and ‘It’s a sacrifice for tomorrow,’” says Guzman, 26, who plans to someday relocate his family to the United States.
“I always tell them, ‘Tomorrow, we’ll live in the glory for the sacrifices that we’re making today, which will give you a better life.’ Still, it’s always very difficult emotionally.”
Guzman's eldest sons—7-year-old Joel and 6-year-old Victor Jose—vaguely understand their father’s magnificent job skill: his world-class penchant for stealing other men’s consciousness with the concussive power in his fists.
“They know that when their Daddy leaves, he’s going to work,” says Guzman, who dissuades his oldest boys—both blossoming baseball players—from fighting others their age. “They know boxing’s a sport, and that when professionals fight in the ring, they get paid. When you fight in the street, you don’t get paid.”
Jonathan Guzman has excelled at his craft in a way very few have, as he’s won all 19 of his pro fights by knockout. He aims to continue that streak Saturday against 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). Both fighters were recorded at 121.6 pounds at Friday's weigh-in.
Not only has Guzman proven to be a prolific knockout artist, but he’s wiped out his opponents with debilitating proficiency: He’s never once never gone beyond six rounds. Then again, Aquino has never been knocked out.
“He has heavy hands and loves mixing it up, but he’s more of a technician than a seek-and-destroy brawler,” says Boston-based trainer Hector Bermudez, who is entering his seventh fight with Guzman.
“He’s definitely a better overall fighter who is more mature in the ring. He feints to set up opportunities and understands being within range to fire his shots. [Now] I want to refine his patience and relaxation as an inside fighter.”
“ My kids really don’t grasp the knockouts. They just know their daddy always wins. ” Jonathan Guzman
Among Guzman’s most definitive performances were a second-round stoppage of Aneudy Matos in September 2012 and a fifth-round knockout of Juan Guzman (no relation) this past February.
Matos was floored three times—the last from a lights-out right hand to the temple—and Juan Guzman hit the canvas once from “a really nice left-hook liver shot that, I think, fractured his ribs,” Guzman recalls.
In each instance, the conquered man was counted out.
“My favorite head shot is the straight right hand, which gets there really fast. But I also like setting up the liver shot,” says Guzman, who is coming off a fifth-round KO of former title challenger Christian Esquivel in May. “I have about four moves I use to get there.”
Guzman equates setting up knockouts with another game of skill—albeit one that requires no physical effort whatsoever.
“It’s like playing poker: You read the other guys giving away their secrets and capitalize on their errors within the rhythm of the fight,” he says. “They might drop their hands in certain spots or show weaknesses in their defense. I memorize those things and take advantage.”
Guzman also takes advantage of downtime during training camp to get on the phone and talk to his kids, something Bermudez says his fighter does nightly. “My fighters live with me when we train, so I can hear [Guzman] talking to his family when the day of workouts is done.”
Upon returning home, Guzman will resume involvement with his sons in baseball, their country’s national sport. As for the prospect of them someday trading baseball gloves for boxing gloves, Guzman insists that won’t be an option.
“They’re not going to be fighters,” he says. “It’s been a rough ride involving lots of sacrifices for me. I don’t want that for them.”
That said, the boys will be gathered around the television in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, eager to see their father notch his 20th straight victory.
“My kids will be watching,” says Guzman, whose youngest is 3 years old. “They really don’t grasp the knockouts. They just know their daddy always wins.”
For full coverage of Guzman vs Aquino, be sure to visit our fight page.