by Cliff Rold
Entering the ring to a fireworks display at the outdoor Puerto Salvador Allende in his hometown of Managua, Nicaragua, 27-year old WBC and lineal World Flyweight Champion Roman Gonzalez (42-0, 36 KO) lit up 35-year old Mexican veteran Valentin Leon (38-29-3, 21 KO) of Coulton, California in three rounds. Gonzalez scored a knockdown in the second and two more in the third before a final assault led the referee to stop the bout. The non-title win was Gonzalez’s eighth straight knockout win.
Gonzalez came into the bout at 115 ½, the second highest weight of his career. Leon weighed 114 ½.
Gonzalez played defense for much of the first round, landing some body shots and short blows upstairs while Leon pressed. That posture didn’t last in the second. Gonzalez opened up at the beginning and end of round two, dropping Leon before the bell with a hard shot to the head.
Gonzalez landed a low blow in the third to delay the inevitable. Leon would be felled twice more, first on a right and then a left. Trying his best, Leon found his wide shots blocked as Gonzalez let loose a torrent of blows against the ropes. The referee halted the bout at 2:27 to save Leon further punishment.
Gonzalez took the fight as a local attraction, staying busy with a potentially big remainder of 2015 looming. Reports on BoxingScene of a possible HBO debut in May could mean a chance at broader stardom for a man regarded by many as one of the best fighters in the world in any division.
There are, among hardcore fight followers, two desirable fights for Gonzalez in the near future: a rematch showdown with WBA/WBO Flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada (31-2, 22 KO) and a clash with the 2014 BoxingScene Fighter of the Year, WBO Super Flyweight Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7 KO).
Gonzalez defeated Estrada in a classic Jr. Flyweight battle in 2012 with both men winning titles at Flyweight since. Inoue won titles at 108 and 115 lbs. in 2014 to mark himself one of the sport’s most talented new faces.
Before he can get to either man, he may have to fulfill a mandatory obligation for the WBC. That mandatory will be determined in a fight between former 108 lb. titlist Edgar Sosa (51-8, 30 KO) of Mexico and undefeated Thai battler Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai (26-0, 19 KO).
Estrada is currently slated to defend his title against former Flyweight titlist Hernan “Tyson” Marquez (37-5-1, 26 KO) on March 28th.
The card was broadcast on Canal 4 in Nicaragua, available in the US via ustream.tv.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]