Timing can be everything, even when considering boxing’s best pound for pound fighter.
It’s been quite awhile that anyone below featherweight was considered as the top pound for pound fighter, but with the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, a void has opened for the likes of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
But should the Nicaraguan mighty mite be tabbed the best?
Not since Nonito Donaire has anyone in the lighter weights deserved attention and before that you had to go back to Mexico’s Ricardo “Finito” Lopez to mention a fighter worth arguing about. Donaire had that dizzying speed and Finito the cruise missile-like precision.
Chocolatito has skillful power, through strength and incredible determination.
Does the flyweight world champion deserve to be placed above WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko?
Klitschko hasn’t endured a loss in 11 years and hasn’t been close to losing a match since meeting Samuel Peter in 2005. He may not be aesthetically pleasing with his hit and hold method taught to him by the late great Emanuel Steward, but neither was Mayweather’s safety-first approach.
The last man to defeat Klitschko was Lamon Brewster back in 2004. After that fight the younger brother of Vitali tweaked his style and has been a force in the heavyweight division. No one has been able to present a semblance of danger for Klitschko. David Haye fell miserably short of any kind of challenge. He talked a good game but could not muster the guts to exchange with Klitschko after feeling his power early in their 12-round match in 2011.
Has Chocolatito showed that kind of Klitschko dominance?
When the Nicaraguan first arrived in the U.S. he fought in the Pomona Fairgrounds against Mexico’s Ramon Hirales in defense of the WBA light flyweight world title. It was 2012 and I had been following his ascent. That day I first saw him perform in person and immediately could determine that Hirales was overmatched. Gonzalez was technically proficient, patient, strong, and pounced on the Mexican challenger like a puma when the opening came in the fourth round.
That night emphatically convinced me he was among the best fighters in the world pound for pound. No doubt.
The next time Gonzalez fought in the U.S., I saw him clash against Mexico’s dynamic Juan Francisco Estrada at the L.A. Sports Arena. It was epic.
Estrada proved to be Gonzalez’s Joe Frazier. Unlike others, Estrada proved durable and eager to exchange against the Nicaraguan prizefighter with dynamite punches. They blasted each other, changed tactics and changed again. Just when it looked like Gonzalez was tiring he discovered another notch in his gun and edged Estrada by decision. The judges scored it much wider than those in the media. It was razor close.
Like the warrior he is, Gonzalez wants to clear all doubts about his superiority.
“I would like to have a rematch with “El Gallo” (Estrada), which I think would be a very good fight, but right now, I am focused on Brian Viloria on October 17,” Gonzalez says. “I would even go back down to 108.”
Yes, Viloria stands in the way of Chocolatito. It’s the Nicaraguan’s toughest opponent since Estrada. It’s power versus power when these two meet in Madison Square Garden. If Gonzalez can survive Viloria, then he can meet Estrada in a rematch or go up a division to challenge Japan’s incredibly talented Naoya Inouye. For the next three fights the boxing world will see if Gonzalez can survive the mother of all tests. If he does, then he deserves to be named the top fighter pound for pounder.
Right now, I’d have to go with Klitschko. The Ukrainian prizefighter hasn’t lost since 2004, the year Gonzalez fought his pro debut.