By Jake Donovan
Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez won’t put a dent into the Fighter of the Decade race, but his latest win at least ends the 2010s on a high note.
The former four-division titlist ended a 15-month inactive stretch with a stoppage win to close out the 2010s, stopping overmatched Diomel Diocos in two rounds Monday evening in Yokohama, Japan.
A standing eight count and subsequent flurry forced the stoppage at 2:20 of round two.
Nicaragua’s Gonzalez had fought just five rounds in the 27 months since a horrific knockout loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in their September 2017 rematch. It all came in his knockout win of Moises Fuentes last September, only to lead to a lengthy inactive stretch while watching a number of opportunities fall by the wayside.
It all led to the diminutive Nicaragua making his way back to Japan, where he has spent a significant portion of his career under co-promotion from honorable Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions. He didn’t spend very long in the ring for his comeback fight, looking every bit the part of a former four-division titlist and pound-for-pound king in against a made-to-order journeyman.
Diocos (14-6-4, 4KOs) didn’t bring much else except the potential to put in some rounds. The Filipino journeyman had only been stopped once before, when then-unbeaten Daigo Higa halted him in the 4th round of a February 2017 clash that preceded his flyweight title run.
Gonzalez changed that in less than six minutes. Diocos was forced to take a standing eight-count—which is active in Japan—in round two, with Gonzalez going right back on the attack. A right hand along the ropes had Diocos in bad shape, with referee Yuki Fukuchi calling for the stoppage soon thereafter.
The win runs Gonzalez’s record to 48-2 (40KOs), including a 22-2 mark over the past ten years. Gonzalez opened the 2010s with his final strawweight title defense, followed by title claims at junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight in presenting his case for the best fighter of the decade. Wins over the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr., Akira Yaegashi, Brian Viloria, McWilliams Arroyo and Carlos Cuadras helped land long overdue recognition as pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, a cause aided by the retirement of Floyd Mayweather.
Gonzalez enjoyed his stay at the top for roughly 18 months before suffering a disputed points loss to Sor Rungvisai in their first fight in March 2017. The rematch six months later was far more emphatic as he was flattened in four rounds, leaving his career in tatters for the past two-plus years.
Plans for the new year include a second title run at junior bantamweight.
The bout served in supporting capacity to a title fight tripleheader, streaming live on ESPN+ and topped by Ryota Murata’s first defense of his second reign of a secondary 160-pound title as he faces Canada’s Steven Butler.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox