Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez is normally able to chalk up nearly any given circumstance as God’s will.
There is a part of him, however, that still replays the disappointment felt from not having his hand raised in his epic rematch with Juan Francisco ‘El Gallo’ Estrada.
Many viewers had Nicaragua’s Gonzalez prevailing after twelve more sensational rounds with Mexico’s Estrada in their terrific March 2021 lineal/WBA/WBC junior bantamweight unification bout. Among the other three scorecards that mattered, judge Jesse Reyes (115-113 Gonzalez) was the long ringside official to share that sentiment. He was overruled by judges David Sutherland (115-113) and Carlos Sucre (117-111) who both scored for Estrada, ending Gonzalez’s WBA reign and leaving him as a former four-division champ.
“It’s nothing against Estrada, he’s a humble warrior like me and I greatly respect him,” Gonzalez admitted to BoxingScene.com. “But that decision, I admit that it was difficult to accept. It was a bad feeling that night.
“It’s frustrating to put everything I had into my performance and to have it taken out of my hands like that was an injustice.”
The official verdict left their series even at one win apiece, with the pair of future Hall of Famers set to meet a third time this weekend at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona (Saturday, DAZN, 8:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. local time). The rubber match comes a little more than ten years since their first meeting in November 2012, which saw Gonzalez edge Estrada via unanimous decision in the final defense of his WBA junior flyweight title reign.
Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs) previously held a strawweight title and went on to claim the lineal/WBC flyweight championship before enjoying two separate title reigns at junior bantamweight. The Nicaraguan legend won the WBA title in a ninth-round knockout of unbeaten Kal Yafai in February 2020, lodging one successful defense before dropping a highly questionable decision to Estrada (43-3, 28KOs), a two-division champ who will attempt the sixth defense of his lineal 115-pound championship along with the vacant WBC title being at stake for the trilogy clash.
There are many who will argue that Gonzalez should enter as the champion.
However, the lingering disappointment from that March 2021 night in Dallas is as close as he comes to carrying any resentment in their already memorable series.
“The judges made their decision and I just have to live with it,” acknowledged Gonzalez. “We both did our job, fought at the highest level and left the ring healthy. I thank God every day for that. As for the decision, the judges ruled it as they did. I don’t hold Estrada responsible for their actions. It was an honor to share the ring with him that night and in our first fight, and it will be an honor to share the ring with him one more time this weekend.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox