- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez's first defense will still come July 9 as originally planned, but against a new opponent and in a new location.
Gonzalez, of Mexico, was scheduled to face Roinet Caballero in Gurrero, Mexico, but will now face late substitute Tomas Villa on the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara undercard at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
The fight was moved because of an unspecified issue that made the Mexico venue unavailable. That led promoter Oswaldo Kuchle of Del Pueblo Promotions to turn to Dan Goossen, his partner on Gonzalez, who agreed to put the fight on the Atlantic City card. That helps Kuchle preserve his date on Mexican network Televisa, which will still carry Gonzalez-Villa.
Caballero dropped out of the fight because of a visa issue, according to Goossen.
Gonzalez took the sudden change in stride.
"I've got the best of both worlds, fighting in the U.S. and letting my fans see me in Mexico on Televisa," said Gonzalez, who is trained by recent International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain. "I will go out there and do what fans love to see from their fighters, look to knock Villa out cold."
Said Goossen, "It's always nice to a do a fight with Jhonny. To have him included on the show, I think it's good all the way around. Villa was the only that was willing to fight Jhonny on this short notice."
Gonzalez (48-7, 42 KOs), a former bantamweight titleholder, scored an upset in April when he went to Japan and stopped long-reigning titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa in the fourth round to claim a featherweight belt.
Villa (23-7-4, 14 KOs), a native of Mexico living in Midland, Texas, is not regarded as anything remotely close to a top challenger, but he was available and willing on short notice -- and the WBC agreed to sanction the bout.
Villa has been involved in several brutal slugfests that have slowed him down considerably. He has not fought in a year since scoring an eight-round upset last June against Salvador Sanchez, the nephew of the Hall of Famer with the same name. Two fights ago, Villa was knocked out in the first round by featherweight contender Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia.
Still, Villa is happy to get the unexpected opportunity.
"It's a dream for me fighting for a world championship after 10 years of hard work," Villa said. "I will fight to the finish and do everything I can to become world champion."
HBO is not televising Gonzalez-Villa. Its broadcast will include Williams (39-2, 27 KOs), in his first fight since being knocked out in the second round by middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, against Lara (15-0-1, 10 KOs) in the junior middleweight main event and junior featherweight titlist Akifumi Shimoda (23-2-1, 10 KOs) in his first defense against mandatory challenger Rico Ramos (19-0, 10 KOs).
Heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola (32-2, 28 KOs) is also on the untelevised undercard against Friday Ahunanya (24-7-3,13 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
6hBy Jackie MacMullan