September 6, 2018
September 6, 2018
roman gonzalez

Tom Hogan/K2

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DECORATED champion Roman Gonzalez almost retired from boxing. In 2017 he suffered back to back defeats to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the first separated him from his WBC super-flyweight title, the latter separated him from his senses in the fourth round.

He was close to calling it a day. “Very close. I really wanted to retire because I wanted to spend time with my children, which I had not been able to, due to so much determination within my career and the training and whatnot. But at the same time, I spoke to my family, and my family encouraged me, as well as myself, to be able to fight in the ring and I feel it wasn’t my time. It wasn’t my time, and now I’m ready to fight once again September 15,” he said. “It was definitely a very difficult year from the loss that I suffered to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

“I wanted to fight. I believe I’ve received a lot of blessings for world titles, being ranked for a time as the number one pound-for-pound, and I believe that is enough, but I was just happy to have the opportunity again.”

On the undercard of Canelo Alvarez versus Gennady Golovkin at the T Mobile arena in Las Vegas “Chocolatito” will fight Moises Fuentes. “Nothing is written in boxing. I feel that I can beat Roman. It will definitely be something out of a dream, but I’m ready to fight and I hope I can beat him that Saturday,” Fuentes said.

Roman Gonzalez

Gonzalez is determined to win this and press on to recapture a world title. “I feel I’ve rejuvenated a lot. It’s really helped me be able to come back,” he said. “I believe the wisdom to be able to overcome this situation – I believe that I’m back in the ring and I’m coming in great condition and I definitely want to win the fight, like every other boxer, and I believe that I am starting to set up my comeback.

“I still would like to obtain a fifth world title.”

August 11, 2018
August 11, 2018
Kal Yafai

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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KAL YAFAI has completed three successful defences of the WBA super-flyweight title he won in 2016. But he wants a defining fight and is hoping for a collision with Nicaragua’s Roman Gonzalez.

“He’s coming back in September, I know I’m not in their plans right now. They want to get a couple of wins and then they’re happy to fight me. Hopefully he can get some good wins and then we can have a showdown, which would be great,” he told Boxing News.

He is preparing to return to America for his next fight later this year, in October or November. “I’m not in bad shape, my speed and timing and my movement’s still pretty good. I’ve had a couple of little spars and I’m better than where I’m normally at at this stage. I’m ticking over and I’ve been working on a few things and just trying to improve each time,” he said.

Yafai has been sparring with Paddy Barnes, to help prepare the Irishman for his world title challenge against WBC flyweight champion Cristopher Rosales. “I’ve known [Paddy] for quite a while, from the amateur days and things like that. And I’ve boxed Cristopher Rosales myself. That was in Sheffield, mid 2015. He was just very tough. He kept coming forward. So whatever I hit him with, he just kept coming. I did my hands in that fight. That was meant to be a warm up fight before I fought for a title in Birmingham a month later, but I did my hands in so I couldn’t fight [for a title]. He was very tough. I hit him with everything. I hit him with flush right uppercut and he kept coming forward with a mouth full of blood. That’s one thing to take from it. He weren’t the biggest puncher or anything like that but he kept coming forward,” Kal said.

Kal Yafai

He was gratified to see one of his victims go on to become a world champion. Rosales beat Daigo Higa in Japan in April to become the WBC titlist. Barnes, at Windsor Park on August 18, will be his first title defence. Yafai is backing Barnes to win it.

“I watched [Rosales] win the world title as well, I was surprised he won it. I thought he was going to get done in seven or eight rounds against the Japanese kid, Higa. He’s a big puncher but he struggles with the weight. I think with them kind of guys, because they’re huge punchers, he had an 100% knockout ratio, when he’s hitting somebody and after three or four rounds he’s hit them with everything and they’re not going away. A lot of fighters just don’t know what to do,” Yafai said. “I think that’s what happened in that fight. He hit him with everything and [Rosales] kept coming forward and he just came unstuck.”

April 10, 2018
April 10, 2018
roman gonzalez

Tom Hogan/K2

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“OLD fighters don’t fade away. They just slowly die in front of our eyes.”

The late Budd Schulberg’s famous words are as relevant today as they were when he penned them back in 1998, as he oversaw an aged Roberto Duran sustain an unmerciful beating at the hands of William Joppy in Las Vegas.

Roman Gonzalez, the petite, baby-faced Nicaraguan, may be just 30 years of age but in boxing regards at the lower weight classes he has extensive mileage on the clock. Having turned professional back in July 2005, the popular former pound-for-pound star went on to become the first fighter to claim world titles in all four of the sport’s smallest divisions.

From minimumweight up to super-flyweight, he enjoyed an admirable unbeaten surge from clinching his first at 105lbs in 2008 until his historic 115lbs success on a memorable night in California in 2016.

“Chocolatito” is back. He will finally return to the ring on May 5. This will see the Nicaraguan hero battle on the same night as friend and former training partner Gennady Golovkin once again, after previously building a successful double act across American-based shows, including at Madison Square Garden and The Forum.

As ‘Superfly 2’ previously took place and was enjoyed via worldwide coverage, the man that it made it all possible was an interested spectator far from the action, ahead of his imminent comeback. The night was centred around world champions and fighters he beat and helped put in the spotlight along his admirable career path.

“Roman is the one who opened the doors for flyweights to be in the spotlight on premium TV here in the US and has created interest worldwide for them,” Tom Loeffler, the managing director of K2 Promotions and GGG Promotions, told Boxing News.

Perhaps, sadly, those only tuning in and becoming part of the new audience for these smaller boxing stars may not even be aware it was the Nicaraguan that helped put them on the map. In fact, many were quick to overlook or dismiss his career achievements after the second successive setback to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, questioning his previous seat upon the pound-for-pound throne.

But Gonzalez had already secured his legacy before even gallantly climbing the ropes for a second scuffle with Rungvisai, in which he was knowingly facing off with a physically superior opponent. His place in boxing history was written by his own past accolades, long before critiques came flooding in after one disappointing night on American territory.

“Roman has world titles in multiple divisions, was voted pound-for-pound boxer and still has a lot of fight in him,” continued Loeffler, with the founder of the newly established 360 Promotions having helped oversee Gonzalez’s rise to prominence, particularly in promoting the well-received ‘Superfly’ shows.

“I think Roman will definitely go down as one of the best fighters ever to compete in the lighter divisions and as a fan favourite headlining arenas like the Forum and StubHub Center.”

Building his profile mainly in his homeland, Japan and Mexico, it wasn’t until 2011 that he made his debut in the United States but he had already made an impression on those following his earlier career path abroad.

Gonzalez overcame a prime Juan Francisco Estrada, a naturally bigger, game Carlos Cuadras, as well as comfortably outworking McWilliams Arroyo within the space of four years, while was unfortunate not to have earned a points triumph over Rungvisai in their enthralling initial war.

Gonzalez was brutally overwhelmed and ultimately demolished by a naturally larger champion in the rematch under the StubHub Center lights. But it was a defeat in front of a more wide scale audience, which he helped to attract. Gonzalez opened the door for the lower weights to land on such a large platform, ultimately making it possible for the successful ‘Superfly’ series to shine on a high-profile broadcaster.

“Many have made it – but many have fallen,” Gonzalez outlined back in 2016 ahead of his memorable bout with Cuadras. “Maybe they think nobody will beat them. They don’t realise that the more you win, the harder the fights.”

Fast forward 12 months and his own outlook had come to fruition, tasting his maiden setbacks at the hands of Thai conqueror Rungvisai.

Roman Gonzalez

Lying flattened out on his back after tasting a flush right hook from the powerful southpaw was a sad image in an incredible year for the sport, and perhaps the most shocking, as the much-adored champion-turned-challenger succumbed to a crushing defeat.

“This is nothing – there will be even harder fights,” declared a badly swollen and bruised ‘Chocolatito’ following the thrilling Cuadras clash, again unknowingly predicting his near future.

“It just looks like the end of ‘Chocolatito’,” declared a stunned Max Kellerman during HBO’s broadcast of the brutal Rungvisai KO, as the victor ecstatically rolled over and sprung around the ring where Gonzalez worryingly lay barely conscious.

With his aggressive blend of power and combination punching, Gonzalez became a dominant force in the lower weight divisions and was ultimately the catalyst for their promising current and even brighter future stature in the sport.

The great “Chocolatito” may be back for what is likely to be the final chapter of his illustrious career in 2018, but he simply has nothing left to prove, no matter how his story ultimately ends.

September 27, 2017
September 27, 2017
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Video: HBO Boxing

September 11, 2017
September 11, 2017
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Video: HBO Boxing

September 10, 2017
September 10, 2017
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

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THE brilliant career of Roman Gonzalez hangs in the balance after he was dominated and knocked out in the fourth round by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in front of a sell-out 7,418 crowd at Carson’s StubHub Center.

The pair engaged in a thrilling 12-round war in March which culminated controversially when the verdict and WBC super-flyweight belt was handed to Sor Rungvisai, but there was no doubts whatsoever about the victor here, as the southpaw controlled the opening three sessions before flooring the Nicaraguan with a huge right hand in the fourth. Gonzalez – expected beforehand to prove that the first bout was an aberration – managed to get up, but was soon knocked cold by another sizzling blast from the Thai’s right mitt. At 1-18 of the session, referee Tom Taylor signalled the contest was over without bothering to count to hand the southpaw a standout victory.

“I trained very hard for four months,” Sor Rungvisai said afterwards. “I fought for Thailand, and this is what I dedicate this fight to, Thailand. For the first fight I only trained for two months. For this fight I trained for four months. I knew I was going to knock him out.”

The underdog was warned in the opening round for using his head as four-weight titlist Gonzalez – surely heading for the Hall of Fame irrespective of whether he fights again or not – struggled to find his range. The rivals went hell for leather in the third round as the contest appeared to be warming up in a similar manner to their first encounter. Instead, Sor Rungvisai ended matters in the next round to dramatically underline his arrival among the sport’s elite.

Roman Gonzalez
THE FIRST TIME: Gonzalez eats a left hand from Sor Rungvisai back in March

“Srisaket took the opportunity of winning the lottery,” observed Gonzalez’s promoter, Tom Loeffler. “He beat the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter and beat him in New York, and then he beat him more convincingly the second time. Now he has to be considered one of the best in the world. You saw Roman really packed the house, and Srisaket came into a hostile environment and proved he is a true champion. He has tremendous punching power.”

The defeated Gonzalez, 30, remained on the canvas for several minutes and received medical attention before being taken to hospital as a precaution. Hindsight will tell us that the 115lb division was perhaps a step too far for “Chocalito”. Indeed, the manner of his demise makes a successful comeback hard to envision but Gonzalez, who also previously held world belts at straw, light-fly and flyweight, long ago assured his place in history.

“We were both trading punches, but his were harder, and they landed harder,” said Gonzalez. “I was very hurt the second time when I was knocked down, but I think I’ll be okay.”

Fight of the night came when Juan Francisco Estrada edged Carlos Cuadras in a 12-round all-Mexican humdinger on the undercard, with all three judges notching 114-113 in Estrada’s favour. A knockdown in the 10th, scored by Estrada courtesy of a right to the nose, was crucial in deciding this super-flyweight slugfest.

However, confusion occured when the verdict was initially announced in Cuadras’ favour.

“I was surprised when he announced Cuadras,” Estrada said. “It had to be wrong. I felt like I was being robbed.”

No matter, justice was done in the end. Cuadras started fast and appeared to be heading towards a memorable triumph through the first half before Estrada chipped away at the lead during the dramatic last six rounds.

Like main event winner Sor Rungvisai, Estrada is now targeting a showdown with the brilliant Naoya Inoue, who impressed on his American debut as he savaged an overmatched Antonio Nieves to defend his WBO super-flyweight strap for the sixth time.

Inoue – who raised eyebrows in 2014 when he jumped from light-flyweight to dethrone long-time champion Omar Andres Narvaez in just two rounds – was relentless from the start, hurting Nievas in the second with a body attack. After six rounds of sustained and educated pressure, the challenger’s corner wisely signalled to referee Lou Monet that enough was enough.

“I’m very happy with my performance,” Inoue said. “He was a brave warrior, but tonight, I was too good for him. I’m very pleased to fight in the United States and thank HBO. I want to come back here to fight again soon. I will fight anybody, and I want to do it as soon as possible.”

September 7, 2017
September 7, 2017
Roman Gonzalez

Chris Farina/K2

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THE man they call ‘Chocolatito’ – Roman Gonzalez – usurped WBC super-flyweight king Carlos Cuadras (Mexico) in a fight-of-the-year contender at the Forum in Inglewood on September 10, 2016.

Gonzalez became Nicaragua’s first ever four-weight world champion in the process. “It was a great fight, Thank god, everything turned out well,” said Gonzalez. “It was a very difficult fight. I knew that we would both arrive in good condition. It was the most difficult fight I’ve ever had. I’ve never fought at this weight before but the important thing is that we won the fight. I’m always thinking about my family and my children and they gave me the strength to continue.”

Roman Gonzalez discusses Carlos Cuadras rematch and possible move to bantamweight.

Video: HBO Boxing