THREE PUNCH COMBO — Earlier this month, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez suffered a stunning knockout loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a 115-pound title fight. The loss capped a disappointing year for Gonzalez who also dropped a disputed decision to Sor Rungvisai in March.
When the year began, many in the sport ranked Gonzalez at or near the top of the pound for pound list. The consecutive losses brought into question the qualifications of those previous high rankings. So was Gonzalez that good and worthy of Hall of Fame consideration or an overhyped media creation?
Gonzalez did not come to the attention of most in the mainstream boxing media until he made his first appearance on HBO in May of 2015. However, it is important to keep in mind that before coming to HBO he had already had an incredible career in the sport. Gonzalez began his pro career in 2005 and three years later won his first world title belt in the 105-pound weight division. In that title winning fight, Gonzalez showed the full arsenal in traveling to Japan to stop longtime 105-pound belt holder Yutaka Niida. It was a star-making performance by Gonzalez who displayed beautiful combination punching along with what would become his quintessential relentless pressure to dominate a very accomplished fighter.
During the course of the next few years, Gonzalez continued to put on some dazzling performances against some very good fighters. In 2010, he would capture a title belt at 108 and, a year later, make his US debut against Omar Soto in Las Vegas. Soto, who had previously given Brian Viloria a tough fight, missed weight by almost four pounds and had a major functional weight advantage against Gonzalez. But Gonzalez was relentless, as always, and early in the second round found a home for a vicious left uppercut that knocked the bigger Soto out cold. A year later, Gonzalez would essentially clean out the 108-pound weight class when he defeated Juan Francisco Estrada in a terrific fight that took place in Los Angeles.
This version of Gonzalez at 105 and 108 was really something special. He was a non-stop punching machine who put continuous pressure on his opponents. Gonzalez fought in the pocket but was hard to hit clean. The combinations flowed beautifully. He often threw the left with blinding speed in combination, doubling and tripling up with it, while seamlessly transitioning that left from a hook to an uppercut in mid-combination. In my lifetime, I thought Ricardo Lopez was as close to a perfect fighter as we’d see in this sport until watching Roman Gonzalez.
Gonzalez would later win title belts at 112 and 115. The version that many saw of Gonzalez was an older version fighting at higher weights. Maybe this can be described best as a watered down version of Gonzalez. Still, this version of him was very good and had many writers ranking him the best pound for pound even though he was not yet in his prime.
This guy was a special talent, the likes of which do not come along often. So, when he does walk away from the sport, regardless of what happens in the remainder of his career, he is a first ballot Hall Of Famer without a doubt, at least in my mind. It is just too bad that many did not see Chocolatito at his peak and will judge him just on what they have seen in 2017.
Fixing Bad Judging
Well, it happened again. We have a big fight that delivers the goods, only to be tainted by questionable scoring. As we all know, this is an all too common occurrence in this sport. In my opinion, two simple moves can possibly go a long way toward correcting this issue.
The first move seems like common sense but is currently not enacted in boxing. There needs to be a simple universal grading system for judges. By having a grading system and holding judges accountable for their cards, we can then ensure that only the top level judges get the big assignments.
How would a grading system work? It is actually really simple. The grading system I propose is a pass/fail system. Simply put, a judge’s scorecard either receives a pass or fail grade. Boxing is subjective and we are not always going to agree on the scoring of a fight. But there are scorecards that are plausible and then those that can be universally agreed as being not plausible. It’s the cards that are so far out of line that would receive the fail grade. The cards within a reasonable range, though we may not all agree, receive a pass grade. For the big fights, commissions then look to assign strictly judges who constantly receive passing grades.
The second change would be to add two more judges who score the fight watching a television monitor. This would typically be done only for high profile bouts. Sometimes the view of the judges sitting ringside is not the best when watching for scoring blows during the course of a bout. I have been ringside and, to be honest, have scored fights that I saw in person widely different than what I did when re-watching the fight later on television. By adding two judges watching a television monitor, it gives more perspectives to the fight. They may catch more and see some things different than those judges sitting ringside. Adding more perspectives would increase the odds on getting the fight right and could overrule an odd card or two turned in at ringside.
Bad judging in boxing has been going on for a long time and nothing has been done to fix the system. Something needs to be changed and the suggestions above would be a step in the right direction.
Under the Radar Fights
It is another busy week in September with multiple significant cards on the horizon. As usual in these busy weeks, a few fights tend to get overlooked. Here is a look at a couple of very interesting bouts that are flying deep under the radar.
On Friday in an ESPN televised card, Gilberto Ramirez (35-0, 24 KO’s) defends his 168-pound belt against Jesse Hart (22-0, 18 KO’s). What makes this fight so interesting is that though both fighters are undefeated, both have lost significant luster based on recent performances. To put it another way, neither has looked all that impressive in winning of late.
Ramirez was once thought to be a big punching 168-pound machine but has not scored a knockout since 2014 when he seriously began increasing his level of competition. He has won his recent bouts using his legs more, working behind a solid right jab from his southpaw stance. The performances have not been the most crowd-pleasing, but he will have an opponent in front of him in Hart who figures to bring out more action.
Jesse Hart is an aggressive fighter who will need to be in the chest of Ramirez working combinations on the inside to have any chance of success. Hart has decent hand speed and heavy handed power in both hands. His big issue has been defense. He often squares up in front of his opponent, making him an easy target, and lacks any sort of head movement. The styles of the two and their respective flaws make this an interesting, evenly matched bout.
On Saturday, Antonio Orozco (26-0, 17 KO’s) takes on Roberto Ortiz (35-1-2, 26 KO’s) in a 140- pound contest that will be televised on HBO. The fight is dependent on what version of Orozco shows up in the ring. When he works behind the jab, he is an excellent boxer-puncher as evidenced by his most recent performance against Keandre Gibson. However, Orozco has been dragged into shootouts in the past and when that happens will abandon the jab to go to war as evidenced in his fight against Abner Lopez last year.
Ortiz has a herky-jerky style and will often throw punches from all sorts of angles. He is aggressive and will try to bait Orozco into a war. If Orozco takes the bait, we could end up with a barnburner. Either way, there will be action, be it one-sided in favor of Orozco or an all-out war.
These are fights that should be on all boxing fans radars this weekend. They may not be getting that much press but are interesting contests that should not be missed.
Canelo vs Triple G / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.