By Thomas Gerbasi
The resume of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez ensures that he will never have to resort to trash talk or hyperbole to promote a fight. But if anything was needed to sell his September 9 rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the Nicaraguan took care of that with one sentence as he insists that the second bout with the only man to beat him will be even more exciting than the first.
“Yes, definitely,” Gonzalez said through manager / translator Carlos Blandon while in Los Angeles to promote the “Superfly” card he will headline at The Stub Hub Center in Carson. “It will be a lot better.”
That’s almost hard to fathom, considering that the first meeting of the two 115-pounders at Madison Square Garden in March soared to the top of the short list for 2017 Fight of the Year. It was so good that Gonzalez has had it on repeat since that night in NYC.
“I’ve seen the fight many, many times,’ he said. “Every other day in camp, at least parts of it. I really like it. It’s the fight that I’ve bled the most, so I definitely love the fight, and I’ve trained a lot for this fight.”
There’s a lot to be taken from that statement, not the least of which is that only a real fighter would look at a fight in which he bled consistently from a cut produced by an early clash of heads as one that he really likes. But Gonzalez is a real fighter, a fact that the world knew long before March 18. Yet how would he react to getting bloodied and dropped for the first time in his career by Rungvisai?
By fighting back even harder. And though Rungvisai deserves all the credit in the world for putting in the best effort of his eight-year pro career during the 12-round war, when the final bell sounded, most observers believed Gonzalez had done enough to retain his WBC title. Two of the three judges disagreed, with the third rendering a draw verdict. But all the Thailand native needed was those two 114-112 scores to get the upset win and put a “1” in Gonzalez’ loss column for the first time.
“I never expected this to happen to me,” Gonzalez said. “I felt that I was winning the fight, and even though I was bleeding, I was doing my job in order to win. So I was surprised by the fight, but it happened, and now we’re ready for the next fight.”
To get ready, Gonzalez is now in Japan, putting in the hours necessary to regain his title in a little over a month. It’s his second camp without longtime coach Arnulfo Obando, who suddenly passed away last November, and while one could wonder whether not having Obando there in the midst of the toughest fight of his life might be an issue, Gonzalez insists that all was well between rounds in the first bout with Rungvisai.
“Everything was very good in my corner,” he said, and it’s typical of the class shown by the 30-year-old Managua native, which shouldn’t be surprising considering that he was a protégé of the late, great Alexis Arguello, one of the sport’s true gentlemen.
“I was saddened and shocked (by the result of the first fight),” he said. “But, at the same time, you have to be aware in life that anything can happen, and I leave it in God’s hands.”
And, if anything, the way Gonzalez got the “1” on his 46-1record and his reaction when it was all over has added to his legend. But “Chocolatito,” while appreciative of his fans’ support, insists that he’s not done yet. For proof, he wants you to tune in on September 9.
“It’s definitely satisfying,” he said of being a fan favorite. “I believe this fight will be different, and I hope to bring back the title, not just for my country and for me, but also, most importantly, for God and my fans.”