Gonzalez Destroys Niida, Captures WBA minimumweight Crown
By Jason Kim: It was like watching a replay of the 1973 fight between heavyweights George Foreman and Joe Frazier. Number # 1 WBA minimumweight challenger Roman Gonzalez (21-0, 19 KOs) totally destroyed the WBA minimumweight champion Yutaka Niida (23-2-3, 9 KOs), giving him a one-sided beating for four rounds until the fight was stopped in the fourth round with Niida too battered to continue fighting on Monday night at the Pacifico, Yokohama, in Kanagawa, Japan. Gonzalez, who also fights at a division above the minimumweight level in the light flyweight division, looked like the much bigger guy as those two fighters stepped in the ring.
Though listed as 5’3″, two inches taller than the 5’1″ Niida, he looked much taller and bigger than that, appearing two levels above the smaller Niida. Just looking at the two, I could tell even then who would win the fight. Not only was Gonzalez bigger, but he was also much younger at 21 than the 29 year-old Niida, who had had the WBA title for four years and seven successful title defenses. His number, however, came up on Monday night, as Gonzalez was a ferocious punching machine from the start of the fight, hitting Niida repeatedly with monstrous left hooks to the head and body.
From the outside, Niida was getting hit often with long right hands and jabs from Gonzalez. When he would try to get in close to throw shots of his own, Niida was often hit with left hooks from Gonzalez on the way in. While Niida tried to stay in close to throw his famous multiple hooks, but he found himself taking far too much punishment while in close and was forced to retreat to the outside to safety.
On the outside, Niida wasn’t safe either, for Gonzalez would chase after him with his long legs and fast feet and catch up to him, nailing him with more left hooks to the head. Niida, who’s used to dominating his fights, it was a totally new experience for him to find himself being the one that was being dominated. Near the end of the round, he tried to out-slug Gonzalez at close range, throwing a flurry of shots. However, his punches were much weaker than Gonzalez and had no effect on the bigger man, who merely answered back with bigger shots of his own causing Niida’s face to redden.
Gonzalez continued his domination of Niida in the second round. Niida tried using his jab more and moving in this round, looking as if he was changing tactics against the bigger fighter. Like in the first, though, it was no use against the younger Gonzalez as he merely closed the distance rapidly and once again started pelting Niida with left hooks. Before long, Gonzalez discovered that he didn’t need to use any other punch but his left hook, because it was so effective and doing such a remarkable job on Niida, who had no defense against it.
For the last two minutes of the 2nd round, Gonzalez did all the punching as he battered a near defenseless Niida. I couldn’t understand why Niida had stopped punching and was thinking that he possibly might be hoping somehow that Gonzalez might punch himself out eventually. One look at him, however, seemed to dissuade me from that thought because Gonzalez looked as if he could fight all out for a full 12 rounds without ever tiring. By then, Niida would be bloody mess if he were to be still standing.
Niida briefly attempted to fight back in the first minute of the third round, landing some nice double and triple hooks to the head of Gonzalez. But the shots were much too weak, and not the kind that appeared to bother Gonzalez in the least. After fighting slowly in the first minute, Gonzalez poured it on with left hooks but on a virtual clinic in the last two minutes with one after another. He chased Niida around the ring hitting with hooks and uppercuts and doing a good job of quieting the Japanese crowd at ringside.
By this time, it would have taken a brilliant strategy on Niida’s part to try and the fight. I doubt that there was plan that anyone could come up with that would have beaten Gonzalez on this fight, because he was just too strong, young, big and busy for Niida to compete with. Who knows? Maybe Niida would have been able to deal with him four years ago when he was a little younger, but I tend to doubt it. Gonzalez just looked like a much superior fighter than him in all aspects of his game and would likely beat Niida badly no matter how young Niida was.
In the 4th round, Gonzalez went after Niida with big left hooks, hitting him at will with wide shots and looking like a mini Alexis Arguello. Niida backed up constantly but it had no effect on stopping the rain of punches that were coming in at him from all angles. Finally, with Niida’s right eye almost completely closed, blood pouring out of his nose and his face red and swollen, the fight was momentarily stopped by the referee to have Niida examined by the ringside doctor. After a brief look at Niida’s beaten-up face, the doctor advised that the fight should be stopped. Referee Mark Nelson then called a half to the fight at 1:59 of the 4th round.