Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez marched through three weight divisions like Napoleon’s army with slight potholes here and there but no Waterloos, until encountering the super flyweights. Now the pound for pound best takes pause.
“I feel it is difficult at the heavier weight. Never did I think it would be easy. It takes time to get used to it but I will be fine at 115,” says Gonzalez, 29.
Maybe it’s the weight or maybe it’s simply the total of 46 pro fights. At age 29 Nicaragua’s near superhuman Gonzalez could be at his Kryptonite moment.
WBC super flyweight titlist Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) meets Thailand’s Wisaksil Wangek (41-4-1, 38 KOs) in the co-main event on Saturday March 18, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
The winner faces Mexico City’s Carlos Cuadras.
Both Gonzalez and Wangek shared the ring with Mexico’s version of the Joker, “El Principe” Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KOs), who is also on the card and faces fellow Mexican David Carmona (20-3-5, 8 KOs) in a preliminary bout.
When last we saw Gonzalez in the ring it was against the chatty Cuadras who nearly toppled the Nicaraguan from the ranks of the undefeated. Had the former world champion from Mexico City entered with a different fight strategy he might have emerged the winner.
“He stole the show,” said Tom Loeffler who manages K2 Promotions. “A lot of people didn’t know who he (Cuadras) was.”
But Gonzalez, as always, has a special reserve of firepower and an ironclad will he keeps in reserve for just the proper occasion. Last September “Chocolatito” dipped into that reserve and emerged from the depths of defeat with a win and a fourth world title in four weight divisions. But it definitely was not easy.
Sitting in the wings that night at the Inglewood Forum was Japan’s Naoya “The Monster” Inoue who had an amused look as Gonzalez struggled to victory against Cuadras. Inoue seeks to be one of the foes of the future.
Cuadras felt he won that night but admitted he could have started quicker. He will not repeat that mistake he promises. He also added that Gonzalez faces a tough test against Thailand’s Wangsek.
“He (Gonzalez) doesn’t hit as hard as Rungvisai (who recently changed his name to Wangek),” said Cuadras at a recent press conference in L.A. “Chocolatito is going to have problems with him.”
Cuadras gets first crack at Gonzalez should both win on Saturday. But you can also add Japan’s Inouye and Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada who was the first to truly test Chocolatito back in 2012. He’s been chasing Gonzalez for a rematch ever since.
Gonzalez probably feels the heat from the several challengers stepping on his superhero’s cape. Can he keep lugging them along?
Talk has emerged about the Nicaraguan superman possibly testing the bantamweight division despite the hiccups in the super flyweights. Gonzalez wisely halts those suggestions.
“I want to do it but my goal is to hold on to my fourth title and to make more money for our weight classes,” said Gonzalez during a conference call. “A second fight with Carlos Cuadras will certainly move toward that direction.”
Gonzalez has been a one-man army in bringing recognition to the smaller weight classes. Not since Mexico’s Ricardo “Finito” Lopez in the 1990s has a prizefighter illuminated the pocket-sized destroyers with such dynamism.
But standing in the way like a Kryptonite boulder will be Thailand’s Wangek, eager to block Chocolatito’s path toward a big money rematch and take home the coveted WBC super flyweight title.
“It makes me happy to represent Nicaragua and now I have to hold on to it,” said Gonzalez.
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