GLENDALE, Arizona – Juan Francisco Estrada relinquished two titles and braved a modified training camp following a grueling fight just to ensure a third fight with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.
The rubber match didn’t come any closer than their rematch 21 months prior to providing closure, with Mexico’s Estrada taking a twelve-round majority decision win last Saturday at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. As much demand has already swirled for a fourth fight, Estrada—while not averse to the idea—is understandably more interested in pursuing the rest of the divisional hardware.
“We’ve had three excellent fights, maybe it ends with the trilogy. If he wants a fourth fight, he definitely deserves it,” Estrada acknowledged to BoxingScene.com and other reporters during the post-fight press conference. “If not, then we want unification fights. I’d like to next face another champion and that’s the path it looks like we will be following.”
The win on Saturday saw Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) go up 2-1 in his memorable series with Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (51-4, 41KOs), while also regaining the vacant WBC junior bantamweight title that was at stake. Estrada previously gave up the belt shortly after his disputed split decision win over Gonzalez last March, only to preserve plans for their targeted trilogy clash in lieu of a mandatory title defense. Ironically, such a fight would have been a third fight with former two-time WBC champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Nevertheless, a third clash with Gonzalez was the priority. Estrada held out to the point of also being relieved of his WBA ‘Super’ title reign, the belt he claimed off Gonzalez last March. It came with an owed title consolidation clash with San Antonio’s Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs), who held a secondary version of the belt before Estrada was stripped earlier this summer for failure to defend.
Estrada was still the recognized lineal champion, though he admittedly enjoys the feeling of carrying and defending the physical titles.
The 32-year-old Hermosillo, Mexico native has a chance to go from one belt to three by his next fight.
Coincidentally, it could once again involve the man he sidestepped to get to a third fight with Gonzalez.
Franco was seated ringside on Saturday as an interested observer while also in training for a title unification clash with four-division and reigning WBO 115-pound titlist Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15KOs) on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo. The winner of that fight is very much on the radar of Matchroom Boxing, Estrada’s co-promoter who has embarked on a title consolidation campaign both in the lower weights and on the women’s boxing side.
“The Chocolatito fight will always be the biggest. But we’re trying to make as many unified and undisputed champions as possible,” noted Eddie Hearn, chairman of Matchroom Sport. “I firmly believe every division should have one champion. With the flyweight division, we can get to an undisputed champion with [Julio Cesar] Martinez, Sunny Edwards, Bam Rodriguez and [Artem] Dalakian all willing to fight each other.
“We’d also like to try to do it at super flyweight as well. I think the winner of Ioka and Franco will be a very good unification. From there, it would be nice to see Juan try to become undisputed by the end of 2023, why not.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox