Amateur Champ Gus Bonneval on Titles: “I’d Like to Win Three or Four Before I Go Pro”
Although only 21 years old, amateur fighter Gustavo “Gus” Bonneval is already setting his sights on a third title. This Friday, the reigning Superbrawl lightweight champion will face Gio Carrillo at Real Cage Fighting 26, held inside Passion Nightclub at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL.
“I’d like to win three or four titles before turning pro,” he says.
Training at Evolution MMA under the tutelage of head instructor Dan Monteleone, the Cuban-born combatant began his athletic career in an entirely different sport: baseball. He suffered a torn labrum his first year playing at the college level, however, and the injury forced him out of the game.
“I’d been playing since I was nine years old, up until college,” he says. “After I got hurt, I had surgery on my shoulder and I stopped playing. I got into MMA after. I’ve always watched it and I just started for the fun of it. I didn’t even think of competing.”
He started taking classes at Evolution, and although his intent going in was just to remain active, his inherent competitiveness soon had him going down a new career path.
“When he came in, he just wanted to get in shape and that was it,” recalls Monteleone. “When we had fight team tryouts, he decided to try out and it was kind of downhill from there – or uphill.”
Once he had both feet planted firmly on the mats, so to speak, he began asserting himself among the other fighters, always respectfully but with no fear of size or experience differences. This hardnosed approach soon earned him the in-gym moniker, “The Moose.”
“It’s not his real nickname; it’s his gym nickname,” Monteleone offers when the name is brought up, both men breaking out in laughter. “I think I gave him the name ‘The Moose’ because in training he just kind of ‘moosed’ his way through things, you know? Even during the fight team tryouts, he was up against one of our 170 pound guys – a pro – and he hit him really hard. He just goes forward.”
Since November 2012, Bonneval has fought eight times, racking up a more than respectable 6-1-1 record, with four of those fights occurring in 2013. He has a similarly laid out schedule for this year, with the goal of turning pro early in 2015.
“I want to get better all around,” he explains. “That’s the way I look at it. I want to fight as often as I can. Since we’re amateurs, it’s not such a big deal. I don’t think that it’s really that big of a deal to have a decent amateur record; it’s about getting better more than it’s about records.”
Bonneval currently cuts from between 175-180 pounds down to the maximum 156 pounds allowed for competition at lightweight (he was at 169 pounds at the time of the interview). When asked whether or not the process gets easier over time, he remains on the fence about it.
“Yes and no,” he says. “I guess you kind of figure things out. I mean, I know what I should be doing. I don’t always do it. There are things you learn to make it easier, but this sucks for me the same every time.”
He must have a minor masochistic streak, then, because on July 26th he’ll be making his 145 pound debut when he vies for the Fight Time Promotions amateur featherweight title.
“Moving to ’45 is a big thing for him,” says Monteleone. “He’s short for ’55, so I think if we get down to ’45 some people better watch out. He just started eating like an athlete; he used to be a fast food and chocolate chip guy.”
“And Buncha Crunch,” adds Bonneval.