By Keith Idec
Roman Gonzalez wasn’t at his best March 18, but “Chocolatito” still thinks he did enough to beat Srisaket Sor Rungvisai that night.
The former WBC super flyweight champion also realizes he could’ve performed much better against the determined, hard-hitting Thai southpaw. Sor Rungvisai’s strong start, which included dropping Gonzalez in the first round, enabled the unknown underdog to pull off a huge upset on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard at Madison Square Garden.
Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) is looking forward to showing what he learned from his first professional defeat and avenging his loss Saturday night. He’ll face Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39 KOs) again in a 12-round rematch, the main event of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” tripleheader from StubHub Center in Carson, California.
“I want to have a better, smarter fight and not have these errors that happened in the first fight,” Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times through a translator. “I learned a lot in that fight about offense and defense.
“I believe that in boxing, as in life, you have to improve in the next thing you do, whether you lose or not.”
The 30-year-old Gonzalez’s loss took place just three months after the death of his longtime trainer, Arnulfo Obando. Gonzalez hasn’t blamed his defeat on Obando’s death, but he has replaced the trainer who prepared him for the first Sor Rungvisai fight, Wilmer Hernandez, with Sendai Tanaka for their rematch.
“There were no problems,” Gonzalez said. “If I wouldn’t have felt as good as I did, I wouldn’t have fought so well.”
Boxing’s onetime pound-for-pound king has tried his best to put that devastating defeat behind him.
“I felt I won the fight,” Gonzalez said. “It was difficult, but that’s over now.”
HBO’s broadcast is scheduled to begin at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT and will consist of two more 12-round, 115-pound fights.
Mexicans Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1, 27 KOs) and Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2, 25 KOs), who’ve both lost decisions to Gonzalez, will meet in one of those fights. Japan’s Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs), the WBO super flyweight champion, will make his American debut in the third televised fight, against Cleveland’s Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.