By Jake Donovan
Roman Gonzalez has ramped up training ahead of his April 23 showdown with Puerto Rico’s McWilliams Arroyo. The reigning World flyweight king has recently relocated his camp from his Nicaragua home country to Costa Rica for the fourth defense of his title.
“Moving camp to Costa Rica at this time makes sense, the sparring there is better and the location allows me to completely focus on the fight without any distractions,” said Gonzalez (44-0, 38KOs) of the change. “This is a big opportunity for Arroyo. He feels like he should already be champion from his close, split decision loss to Amnat Ruenroeng and I know how strong and well prepared he will be for this fight. This is a big test and very important fight for me.”
The bout serves as the chief support to Gennady Golovkin’s middleweight title defense versus unbeaten Dominic Wade. Both fights will air live on HBO from The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., which is currently tracking to be sold out well before fight night.
It will also mark the third such occasion where Gonzalez and Golovkin – considered by many to be the best two or among the best three pound-for-pound fighters in the world today – are paired up on the same show.
The dynamic duo were first featured in separate bouts at this very venue last May, marking Gonzalez’ debut on HBO and under the K2 Promotions banner.
“It’s very exciting to return to the Forum and also to fight once again on HBO,” notes Gonzalez. “I’m honored that my fans from all over can attend or watch my fights, it’s what I’ve always wanted for my career. Also fighting in the same venue where my idol Alexis Arguello was successful means a great deal to me.”
Arguello won all four of his fights at the Forum. Both he and Gonzalez served as world champions in three separate weight classes.
The diminutive yet supremely gifted boxer previously held titles at strawweight and junior flyweight but has truly made his mark at flyweight. He moved up for good in 2013, winning the lineal championship more than a year later in a 9th round stoppage of Akira Yaegashi, who has since gone on to become a three-division champ himself in claiming a junior flyweight belt.
All three of his previous flyweight title defenses have all ended in knockout, taking out the likes of Rocky Fuentes, Edgar Sosa (in Gonzalez’ aforementioned HBO debut) and most recently a 9th round stoppage of former two-division champ Brian Viloria last October. The early exits add to his current streak of ten consecutive knockouts, with his last distance fight coming in a thrilling 12-round nod over Juan Francisco Estrada in Nov. ’12.
Fans have salivated for a rematch, especially now with Estrada holding two titles at flyweight. Such plans could be in store for later this year, but Gonzalez still has to get by the rugged Arroyo (16-2, 14KOs), who along with his twin brother McJoe served on the 2008 Puerto Rico Olympic boxing team.
McJoe went on to claim a super flyweight belt, while McWilliams guns for his second attempt at flyweight title glory.
“I get asked a great deal about the rematch with Estrada but for now I have a very tough fight in front of me against McWilliams Arroyo on April 23 and I’m fully focused on this,” admits Gonzalez. “The distinction of being #1 Pound-for-Pound Fighter is a great honor, I hope to continue to please the fans and media with my performances.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox