AND what if we were hoping for the wrong super-fight all along? Instead of placing all our hopes on the Floyd Mayweather–Manny Pacquiao showdown, which turned out to be a damp squib, perhaps we should be hoping for another fascinating clash: Roman Gonzalez against Naoya Inoue.
Gonzalez confirmed his credentials last weekend when he blew away seasoned Edgar Sosa in two rounds on the Gennady Golovkin-Willie Monroe undercard in Inglewood, California. The significance was not so much the result – which was expected – as that the fight happened in the USA and was screened by the biggest cable company in HBO.
Nicaragua’s Gonzalez took his chance with both fists and reminded us that little men can be relied upon to deliver excitement and knockouts, not to mention a much higher level of skill than one usually gets with heavyweights.
Gonzalez versus Inoue would be a huge fight between two small men. Roman, known as “Chocolatito”, is already on his third world title, the WBC flyweight, having previously held WBA belts at strawweight then light-fly. He has won all his 43 pro fights, 37 inside the distance.
Inoue has had just eight paid outings (all wins, seven early) but won the WBC light-fly crown in his sixth, retained it in his seventh then jumped past the 112lbs division to win the WBO super-fly title in his most recent fight, in December. That was a two-round KO of Omar Narvaez, the experienced Argentinian whose only previous loss was on points to Nonito Donaire at bantamweight.
At 22 Inoue is five years younger than Gonzalez, and now is the right time to make this fight. There’s currently only 3lbs in difference between these little marvels, but that might change if Inoue continues to grow – and while Gonzalez has to give a little weight, he gets compensation in the form of much greater pro experience.
One snag is that the fight might not happen in the US, where it isn’t big enough to top a major bill, but would certainly make a splendid co-feature to an established name. (Golovkin again? Canelo? Miguel Cotto?) Top Japanese fighters rarely leave Japan, because that nation’s TV stations put up huge money to keep their best at home – but don’t forget Gonzalez has boxed nine times in the Land of the Rising Sun, so for him it’s a home away from home.
If a Gonzalez-Inoue superfight does come off, it looks sure to provide more thrills than were witnessed in Las Vegas earlier this month. And who wouldn’t want that?