SOME dare to be great. Some simply are. Tonight in Southern California, Roman Gonzalez, once again proved why he is the greatest fighter in the world. Affectionately known as “Chocolatito, the Nicaraguan sensation moved up in weight and snatched the WBC World super flyweight title from the previously unbeaten, Carlos “Principe” Cuadras. The official scores read 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113, all in favor of Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’s victory marked the fourth weight class conquered by the pound for pound king and surpassed the milestone perviously set by his mentor and father figure, the late, great Alexis Arguello. In the early eighties, the Nicaraguan three-dvision world champion failed in his two attempts to win the light welterweight title against his rival, Aaron Pryor.
“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.”
Tonight’s fight started furiously and the intensity was sustained from bell to bell. The bout was expected to be a fan friendly affair and it did not disappoint the 6,714 mostly Mexican-American and Nicaraguan-American fight fans in attendance.
“Chocolatito” attacked first and backed the champion up from the onset. He relentlessly pressured Cuadras and telegraphed hooks from long distance that somehow still found a way to hit their mark.
Cuadras seemed anxious at first, boxing off his back foot for a change. He ate a couple of thudding left hooks from the challenger while attempting to adjust to Gonzalez’s pressure. Usually the predator, his initial discomfort with being stalked was palpable.
Sensing that he was in a real dog fight, the champion came out aggressively in the second. He attempted to gain control of the fight, launching multiple punch combinations onto Gonzalez. Think seven, eight and nine punches at a time, thrown multiple times in that round.
Gonzalez responded by launching an attack downstairs to the body. This helped neutralize Cuadras’ early flurries of success and set up a vicious left uppercut that caused the Mexican to stumble briefly before the bell.
Moments later Cuadras was seen breathing heavily in the corner as his trainer barked directions aimed at solving the puzzle that in front of them.
In the fourth, Cuadras began working jabs to his Gonzalez’ body, which set up a brutal straight right hand over the guard that snapped Gonzalez’s head back. But the challenger kept coming and fired back with a straight right of his own that got Cuadras’ attention.
A bruise appeared under Roman’s left eye by the start of the 5th round but he seemed unbothered by it, or by the massive left uppercut that Cuadras landed on him halfway through the round. It was a punch that would have sent many to the canvas but did nothing to slow down the Nicaraguan.
Cuadras found some additional success in the middle rounds. As the minutes ticked away, his opponent began to slow down, which allowed for some momentary flurries from champion. The flashy combinations sent the lively crowd into a frenzy.
While his technical prowess has never been understated, Roman’s ability to take a punch was on clear display tonight. He walked through everything that Cuadras sent his way and, although his face was badly bruised by the end of the fight, he never seemed truly hurt during any of their exchanges.
In short, Cuadras showed a lot of heart but simply had no answers for the pound for pound king. Chocolatito’s brilliance was on full display tonight and, when it was all said and done, the three-division world champion became a four-division world champion. He took Caudras’ best shots and came back for more, all while showcasing the full spectrum of his technical abilities.
The November 19th light heavyweight clash between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward is being billed as the fight that will designate a new pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. After tonight’s performance, however, it is clear that it will be supremely difficult to knock Gonzalez off his current perch.
If “Chocolatito” keeps performing like he did tonight, it may take nothing less than retirement or a new opponent- perhaps Naoya “The Monster” Inoue– to prove otherwise. When asked about the possibility of facing that challenge, Gonzalez welcomed the idea. “With pleasure,” he said. It would be blessing to fight against him.”