Rather than choose retirement, Gonzalez took time off to reflect, regrouped, and again won a world title belt at 115 pounds.
Few people would have envisioned Gonzalez winning a world title again, especially in a talented junior bantamweight division, which includes Juan Francisco Estrada.
Gonzalez (50-2, 41 knockouts) successfully defended his WBA junior bantamweight title Friday night in Mexico City, defeating contender Israel Gonzalez by unanimous decision. The win came almost eight months after winning the WBA title, dropping Khalid Yafai twice before ending matters in round 9.
The 33-year-old Gonzalez, who resides in Managua, Nicaragua and has set up recent training camps in Indio, California, is no longer relying on an all-out aggressive style. Instead, Gonzalez methodically breaks down his opponents and attempts to jump on the opportunity to stop his opponent.
In the Yafai fight, Gonzalez neutralized any tools and advantages his opponent had, varying his offense before finally putting Yafai on the defensive and earning the eventual knockout win. Israel Gonzalez on Friday night was no slouch and came to win, but his style played right into the hands of Roman Gonzalez.
Israel Gonzalez thought he would be able to out-hustle ‘Chocolatito,’ who effectively countered to the head and body of the fighter from Mexico City. ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez’s two or three-punch combinations were effective, and even if he did miss with any punch or combination, his footwork and ring generalship allowed him to remain balanced and not get hit with an errant hook or cross from Israel Gonzalez.
Now that Gonzalez notched another win, a rematch against Estrada is what is in the plans for early next year, likely in March or April. Estrada also fought on Friday’s Matchroom Boxing USA card in Mexico City, overcoming a knockdown early in the fight to win by knockout in round 11 over former world titleholder Carlos Cuadras.
Both Gonzalez and Estrada squared off in November 2012 at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, where Estrada rallied late before losing a close unanimous decision to Gonzalez. A longtime flyweight, Estrada had dropped down to 108 pounds to challenge Gonzalez, who then held the WBA junior flyweight title belt.
Since then, there had been a few instances of preliminary discussions taking place to put together a rematch, but nothing was ever finalized. That all changed in recent weeks as boxing fans’ dreams of a rematch lifted as both fighters signed co-promotional deal with Eddie Hearn. Zanfer Promotions promotes Estrada and Teiken Promotions promotes Gonzalez.
Even before the Cuadras fight on Friday, Gonzalez was asked about a possible rematch against Estrada.
“We are focused on Friday tonight,” said Gonzalez at a media roundtable before the fight. “I think it’s going to be a difficult fight, like every fight is. The most important thing is coming in there in good shape, mentally and physically and coming out with my hand raised. After that, we can discuss many important things and we’ll see about the fight with Estrada.”
Win or lose, Gonzalez deserves praise for overcoming a brutal and devastating knockout loss at the hands of Sor Rungvisai to win a world title bout. Gonzalez may not be the same fighter that decimated opposition six-seven years ago, but he is still a pleasure to watch as was evident in his win over Israel Gonzalez.
Gonzalez finally had a premium network in HBO begin airing his fights in 2015, but could you imagine the legacy or popularity of Gonzalez had HBO or Showtime began airing his fights in 2010 or 2011? Azteca America and WealthTV aired a handful of Gonzalez fights in 2012.
Gonzalez is still an excellent fighter. His love for God and humble demeanor, along with an excellent skill-set are infectious to watch.
There are some boxing fans, for whatever their agenda is or lack of knowledge, who will make an assumption of, ‘Never heard of this guy,” or “He was overrated. Who did he beat?”
Who knows how much longer Gonzalez will fight. Will he hang up the gloves after beating all the world titleholders in the division? Will a one-sided loss to Estrada (assuming they will square off early next year) force Gonzalez to rethink his career and retire?
Rather than debate one another, boxing fans should just appreciate and value fighters like Gonzalez and their contributions to the sport. This type of talent does not come along often.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing