By Keith Idec
As an impoverished kid growing up in Managua, Nicaragua, Roman Gonzalez never envisioned becoming the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
That achievement didn’t seem possible when he couldn’t even afford boxing equipment. Ten years into his pro career, though, The Ring magazine and several other outlets have moved the undefeated flyweight champion into the top spot on respective pound-for-pound lists now that Floyd Mayweather Jr. (49-0, 26 KOs) has retired.
The 28-year-old Gonzalez (43-0, 37 KOs) said such honors are even “more special” because he is believed to be the first fighter in the weight classes he has fought (105, 108, 112 pounds) to ever be listed No. 1 boxer, pound-for-pound, by The Ring, the 93-year-old “Bible of Boxing.” Gonzalez is No. 2 on BoxingScene.com’s pound-for-pound list, which hasn’t been updated since Mayweather retired following his easy victory over Andre Berto on Sept. 12 in Las Vegas.
“I want to thank God,” Gonzalez said Tuesday through a translator on a conference call. “I feel very happy and blessed about being No. 1 pound-for-pound. I want to thank my team, also, because it’s a team effort and all the effort has paid off. It doesn’t bring any pressure. It just brings motivation to me.
“I never would’ve imagined I would be No. 1 pound-for-pound or have won three world championships. I am taking care of myself and that is one of the great lessons. I really hope on Oct. 17 I can be victorious once again and demonstrate my talent. I’m taking care of myself and I’m thanking God for giving me that talent.”
Gonzalez is set to defend his WBC flyweight title against Hawaii’s Brian Viloria (36-4, 22 KOs, 2 NC) on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden. Their 12-round fight is the co-feature on a HBO Pay-Per-View card that’ll pit Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) against Montreal’s David Lemieux (34-2, 31 KOs) in a 12-round middleweight championship unification fight for Golovkin’s WBA/interim WBC and Lemieux’s IBF 160-pound crowns.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.