By Thomas Gerbasi
New York City fans knew they were going to see something special in the form of Roman Gonzalez Saturday night, and they responded as such to the WBC flyweight champion as he was introduced to the packed Madison Square Garden crowd. Chocolatito didn't disappoint them either, as he defeated former world champion Brian Viloria via ninth-round TKO, continuing the new pound-for-pound king's string of master classes.
The victory, which improved the Managua native's record to 44-0 with 38 KOs, was his third successful flyweight title defense and 10th straight knockout dating back to 2013.
Viloria (36-5, 22 KOs) shot out of his corner at the bell with an overhand right, and he kept the pressure on throughout the round until a late flurry of shots by Gonzalez reminded the challenger just who he was facing on this night.
And that's the dilemma anyone has to deal with against Chocolatito, because as well as Viloria was pressing the action into round two, every punch thrown by the three-division champion was designed to land and they did just that, whenever and wherever he wanted them to.
In the third, one of those short right hands delivered a knockdown, and while Viloria rose quickly and jumped right back into the fray, Gonzalez smelled blood, and he began to unload with vicious intent. In the final 30 seconds, Gonzalez looked like he was about to get his next knockout, but Viloria survived.
Rounds four through six were fought mainly at close range, with Viloria showing his warrior spirit but simply getting outgunned by Gonzalez, who was seemingly ripping off three shots to every one thrown by the Hawaiian.
By round seven, it appeared to be a question of when Gonzalez would get the finish, not if, as he drilled Viloria with several flush shots at a clip throughout the next two rounds. Viloria refused to wilt under the pressure, but his chances of landing an equalizer were dwindling with each punch he took.
Before round nine, Viloria got a visit from the ringside physician but was given the greenlight to continue, and despite throwing several hard blows to the body, he wasn't slowing the Nicaraguan down in the slightest, with a barrage of shots in the closing seconds of the frame prompting referee Benjy Esteves to halt the bout. The official time of the stoppage was 2:53 of round nine.