By Cliff Rold
StubHub Center, Carson, California - To most US fans, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was a new face that burst on the scene in 2015. To followers of the lightest weight classes, he’s been the elite face of that domain most of the time since his 2008 105 lb. title win over Yutaka Niida. For the US market to pay attention to a foreign-born fighter below bantamweight, he had to be good for a long time.
Nine years is a long run in any weight class, but at the lightest weights it’s fairly remarkable. Along the way, Gonzalez won titles in four weight classes, only the second fighter in history to win that number from 105 to 115 lbs., and was briefly lauded as the world’s best fighter, pound for pound.
On Saturday night, in front of a sold out crowd of 7,418 at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California, his run likely came to a conclusion. There may be some wins down the road somewhere but the best days are behind. In a rematch of a March classic controversially decided against Gonzalez, there would be no debating this time.
30-year old two-time WBC super flyweight titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KO), 115, of Si Sa Ket, Thailand, proved the thrilling first fight was no fluke, dropping Gonzalez in round four and then knocking him cold before the round was out. The 30-year old Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KO), 114 ¾, of Managua, Nicaragua, loses his second straight and first by knockout in the main event of the card dubbed “SuperFly” for its trio of high profile fights in the super flyweight, or 115 lb., division.
The referee was Tom Taylor.
Gonzalez didn’t open up much in the first as the Thai champion set about looking to establish his work to the body. The pro-Gonzalez house went nuts when an accidental clash of heads occurred, remembering the trouble with butts and cuts in the first fight and chanted loudly for their man. Still, it was Sor Rungvisai doing most of the work in an uneventful first round. Opening up more in the second, Gonzalez displayed his subtle defensive skill, making Sor Rungvisai miss or picking shots off with his gloves and elbows. Another head clash drew another round of boos.
Sor Rungvisai’s body attack was doing more damage in the third, getting through as he forced exchanges with Gonzalez at close quarters. Gonzalez appeared to be landing slightly more but, as was the case in the first fight, Sor Rungvisai was taking his shots well. It was all adding up for another fan friendly affair.
And then it was over.
The ending was sudden in the fourth. A right hand Gonzalez never saw coming dropped him to the floor and he was clearly in trouble as he rose with a dazed expression. Sor Rungvisai had him down in the first round of their first fight but this was worse. Fighting the only way he ever has, Gonzalez waded back in and exchanged, looking to bail himself out with offense.
A fateful right hand drilled him into the canvas, his eyes blank as he stared into the lights. He would not rise for several minutes afterwards, Taylor not even bothering to count as he waved the fight off at 1:18 of the fourth round.
Sor Rungvisai makes his first defense of his second reign as the WBC titlist and can look forward to a mandatory against Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada, a victor earlier in the night over Carlos Cuadras. Sor Rungvisai lost his title to Cuadras in 2014 and waited three years for a chance to regain it. He’s made the most of his chances in 2017 and now sits near the top of the heap in a red-hot weight class that appears to only be getting hotter.
In a bit of sad boxing irony, Gonzalez, the man who had to be so good for so long to arrive on the major stage will likely cash in the least as the Jr. bantamweight wave occurring now moves its faces through their own classics and along the scale. He opened new doors for his peers and boxing fans will find new thrills in the tail wind.