Ex pound for pound king Roman Gonzalez has been patiently waiting since suffering his first defeat and now he gets his opportunity.
The lower weight classes of boxing finally are getting some spotlight time in the United States.
For years, boxers below lightweight struggled to gain attention and admiration from American boxing audiences as a whole.
Despite the hard hitting and high volume action that almost certainly accompanies every match, fighters below 130 pounds struggled for consideration nearly everywhere they fought stateside.
As opposed to some of the more lackluster bouts in boxing’s banner divisions, particularly the heavyweights, American eyes often veer elsewhere in search of shattering one-punch knockouts and grueling grudge matches between bitter rivals.
Well now there are some contentions and enmities spawning in the junior weight classes as many fighters look for revenge and to reclaim lost titles, and what we’re supposed to see September 9th of this year could be one of the cards of the year as the entire top half of the super flyweight division faces off all in one arena.
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One thing which had helped lighter boxers get more limelight was the impressive performances of former pound for pound king, Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1, 38 knockouts).
Unanimously anointed boxing’s coveted imaginary title after the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, Gonzalez dominated the flyweight division and moved up to the 115 pound weight class, where he immediately challenged super flyweight champion, Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras.
A non-stop action fight in Los Angeles’s The Forum. Gonzalez ripped the belt away from Cuadras (36-1-1, 27 KOs) with both fighters throwing over 1,000 punches:
An incredible moment for Gonzalez; he headlined the first boxing card of his career, and achieved a feat in capturing titles in four weight classes with a dominant performance versus the Mexican titlist.
The accomplishment of the quadruple champion was something his mentor, boxing legend Alexis Arguello, had failed to complete twice in his own boxing path.
However, Gonzalez rapidly traveled from zenith to nadir in terms of his career. His longtime trainer, Arnulfo Obando, passed away, at age 53, after complications from a stroke on November 8th 2016.
Gonzalez, with his father now as head trainer began camp to take on fearsome adversary and WBC silver super flyweight champion, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39 KOs) who also is known by the name Wisaksil Wangek.
The two meet to a near capacity crowd at the “Mecca of Boxing,” Madison Square Garden, New York City on March 18, 2017 as the co-feature for the unified middleweight championship match between Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin.
The match up was complete brutality from beginning to end. Unsurprisingly, the match was yet another high volume punching affair from both fighters.
“Chocolatito” once again throwing over a staggering 1,000 shots throughout the contest, after which the canvas was showered with scatters of blood. Most of the blood was Gonzalez’s after numerous head-butts by Rungvisai had opened a deep laceration over his right eye.
Rungvisai, who had hurt Gonzalez throughout the fight and knocking him down in the first round was docked a point in the sixth round for repeated head-butting.
Yet, while outlanding Rungvisai in 10 of the rounds and setting a super flyweight record for power punches landed (372 according to CompuBox) Gonzalez lost the match and his title.
The boos and jeers reigning in from New York and MSG became more intense the blood coming from Gonzalez’s head. The judges awarded Rungvisai the WBC super flyweight championship via majority decision.
Waleska Roldan scored the fight and even 113-113, whilst Glenn Feldman and Julie Lederman scored it the same 114-112, 114-112 in favor of Rungvisai.
Gonzalez said through a translator in the post-fight interview:
“I thought I won the fight. I want an immediate rematch. I want to get my title back.”
The World Boxing Council (WBC) ordered an immediate rematch between the two combatants on April 4th, 2017.
With a slight twist was the rematch sought by another former champion, Carlos Cuadras, who sought to avenge his lost with Gonzalez.
Since Gonzalez is no longer champion and bound to a rematch with Rungvisai, the WBC ordered the next available ranked boxer for the interim title (the mandatory challenger status).
Former Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada(35-2, 25 KOs), who Gonzalez had also previously defeated. The winners of said matchups were then ordered to face each other.
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In comes the Monster…
Before Gonzalez had lost his perfect record and pound for pound status a super match was longed for between him and the young Japanese terror Naoya Inoue, nicknamed “The Monster”.
Inoue with a brief yet impressive resume of 13-0 11KO, destroying everyone in his path, and a world title victory on only his sixth fight had seemed destined to do battle with Gonzalez as the Nicaraguan warrior challenged the entire super flyweight division to the delight of die-hard boxing fans everywhere.
Gonzalez’s loss to Rungvisai has since delayed that matchup indefinitely.
Inoue’s next fight, after destroying Ricardo Rodriguez in the third round last month, is against the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) #5 ranked Bantamweight contender, American Antonio Nieves(17-1-2, 9 KOs) .
Interestingly enough, Roman Gonzalez according to the WBC website and ESPN interviews will be training in Japan for his next bout and with Japanese coach Sendai Tanaka, who worked previously with former champion Marco Antonio Barrera and current lightweight Jorge Linares.
“We will be in Nicaragua for a few days, but then we will return to Japan to do the training camp. The team will be the same, Wilmer Hernández is in charge, since Arnulfo Obando died.”
Commented Carlos Blandón, Manager of Roman, in an ESPN interview.
According to Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, all three matchups will be on the same card.
The top five super flyweight fighters in the world will be competing on the same card, in the same building. Gonzalez will once again headline and Inoue will be making his American television debut.