Thursday Night Fights: Mbilli vs Gongora
We have a stacked weekend of boxing ahead of us, and it begins tomorrow night on ESPN+. This event is promoted by Eye of the Tiger Management, and will take place at the Montreal Casino in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The main event is an intriguing 168lb matchup between two top contenders. Christian Mbilli (23-0, 20 KOs) is a rising star who many believe has a bright future ahead of him. He will be up against his highest rated opponent to date in Carlos Gongora (21-1, 16 KOs).
Mbilli is someone who I rate very highly, and if he can take care of business against someone like Gongora it would prove that he has truly arrived as a legit contender in the super middleweight division. Gongora is a tricky operator, a southpaw who is hoping to spring another upset to put him back in the thick of things at 168lbs. He came in on short notice as an 8-1 underdog against Ali Akhmedov (19-1, 14 KOs) in December 2020 and scored a twelfth round knockout victory to claim the IBO super middleweight title. He would go on to make one defense of that title before losing it in a split decision defeat to Lerrone Richards (16-0, 3 KOs) in December of 2021. He has fought once since then, picking up a fourth round stoppage victory on a local Massachusetts card last August.
Two things that Mbilli has to his advantage are his activity and his youth. This will be his seventh fight since April of 2021, while it will only be Gongora’s fourth. He is also 27 years old, compared to Gongora being 33. He has had four straight victories over quality professionals who have been in the ring with high level operators in the past. Those wins include unanimous decision victories over Ronald Ellis (18-3-2, 12 KOs) and Vaughn Alexander (17-7-1, 10 KOs), along with stoppage victories over Nadjib Mohammedi (45-9, 28 KOs) and DeAndre Ware (15-4-2, 9 KOs).
For the first time in his career though he is facing a fighter who is not coming in as the opponent, but coming in as a fellow contender searching for a victory to catapult him back up the rankings. Gongora is someone who is dangerous for all twelve rounds. That was on display when he was on his way to losing a wide decision to Ali Akhmedov, but pulled off a shocker in the final round by flooring Akhmedov twice with a left uppercut before the fight was stopped. Mbilli puts his punchers together real well, but will have to be cautious of a big counter from Gongora when he lets his hands go.
I expect this to be an entertaining affair and a proper appetizer for the stacked fight week we have ahead of us. I give Mbilli the edge to win a competitive, but clear decision that would prove that he has arrived as a legit contender. A stoppage victory would be a major statement, as Gongora has proven to be durable and has never been knocked down as a professional. On the contrary, a victory by Gongora would put the Lerrone Richards defeat completely behind him and would have him back on track for challenging for a world title in the near future. Mbilli has been avoided by fellow contenders in his weight class and has had difficulty getting fights, as has Gongora, so this is a perfect matchup and the winner will without a doubt have big things ahead of them in the future.
The ESPN+ broadcast is set to begin at 7:00 EST, with the main event scheduled for roughly 9:00 EST.