By David A. Avila
INGLEWOOD, Calif.-In front of a raucous crowd of 6,700, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez powered through Mexico’s very tough Carlos Cuadras to win by unanimous decision and capture his fourth world title in four weight divisions on Saturday.
With a large Nicaraguan crowd behind him Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) stormed through the first half of the fight contested for Cuadras’ (35-1-1, 27 KOs) WBC super flyweight world title. But in the second half the Mexican fighter stood his ground and closed the gap.
Gonzalez never took his foot off the pedal but was unable to hurt Cuadras as he had so many opponents before. The step up in weight proved to be tougher than expected but still the Nicaraguan seemed the stronger fighter throughout.
“It was the most difficult fight of my career,” admitted Gonzalez, 29, who looked bruised and battered after 12 rounds. “I thought I won. He was very good, but I was better tonight.”
Cuadras spent the first four rounds with a hit and run style. Gonzalez was always on top of him with a bruising nonstop attack that kept the Mexican fighter from landing any telling blows. But in the fifth round the Mexican fighter landed a double left hook that stopped Gonzalez’s momentum. From there on Cuadras spent more time inside than out.
Gonzalez’s eyes began to swell and blood dripped from his nose. But he never slowed down and was always the aggressor.
Still, the nonstop attack from the Nicaraguan slugger began to allow Cuadras space to fire off his flashy combinations. Two left hooks connected flush in the ninth round for the Mexican fighter whose supporters began to roar their approval. Things began to change in favor of Cuadras but time was short.
Cuadras was the busier fighter in the last two rounds and out-punched Gonzalez who seemed to be tiring. But did he build up enough winning rounds?
After 12 rounds the judges saw Gonzalez the winner 117-111, 116-112, 115-113. The Nicaraguan becomes the first of his country to win four world titles in four weight divisions — something even the great Alexis Arguello failed to do.
“Arguello will always be number one,” said Gonzalez.
Standing nearby was Japan’s Nayoa Inouye
“It would be a pleasure to fight Inouye,” said Gonzalez the new WBC super flyweight champion.
Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 Kos) stepped up the tempo against Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass (28-11-4, 18 Kos) and it paid dividends with a knockout win in their super welterweight rematch.
Last April both fought to a draw after 10 brutal rounds in a candidate for Fight of the Year. This time Kamegai increased the tempo and rhythm of his blows and connected enough to take the momentum away.
Kamegai seemed to know from the beginning what to expect and how to attack Soto Karass. It took the Mexican fighter a little longer to make adjustments and he was doing well in the seventh and eighth round when Kamegai connected with a big right hand. The Mexican fighter tried to hold on but Kamegai was able to catch him before the round ended and left Soto Karass on slightly wobbly legs. As he walked back to his corner it was obvious he had little left and referee Jack Reiss waved the fight over.
The Japanese warrior proved he belongs in the upper tier of the super welterweight division with the win.
Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada dominated former world champion Nancy Franco of Mexico in their light flyweight clash. After eight rounds the ring announcer mistakenly declared that Franco was the winner to a chorus of boos. But after 30 seconds he reversed himself and correctly announced Estrada was the winner 80-72 on all three judges’ cards.
Estrada cruised every round and Franco tried desperately to connect with something. It seldom happened. Instead Estrada smacked the former champion around for all eight rounds. It was her best performance as a pro.
Ryan Martin (16-0, 9 KOs) of Cleveland, Ohio was simply the stronger fighter in defeating Colombia’s Cesar Villarraga (9-2) by unanimous decision after an eight round lightweight contest. Martin was able to floor Villarraga with a right in the fourth round in winning most of the rounds. Villarraga never gave up but could not connect enough to convince the judges or Martin he was the better fighter.
In a spirited lightweight clash Apple Valley’s Brahmabigi Montgomery (2-1-1) floored Hawaii’s debuting Chazz Moleta (0-1) twice to win by knockout at 2:44 of the fourth and final round. Montgomery connected with a left hook in the third round to drop Moleta. In the final round, two left hooks connected again and put Moleta down again. He rose to fight but was met with another left hook that forced referee Zack Young to halt the fight.
Photo credit: Al Applerose