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Hearn wants Kal Yafai to fight Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez next

Roman Gonzalez

By Scott Gilfoid: After stopping David Carmona (21-6-5, 9 KOs) in the 7th round last Saturday night, WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai (24-0, 15 KOs) could wind up facing former four division world champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs) next if Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has anything to do with it.

That’s the fight that Hearn wants for the 28-year-old Yafai. The idea before the Yafai-Carmona fight last Saturday night was for Yafai to face IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas if the two won their fights. They both fought on the same card at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.

The whole idea behind Yafai and Ancajas fighting on the card was to setup a fight between them later this year. But it sounds like Hearn might be having second thoughts about that. Is Hearn getting stage fright after seeing how easily Ancajas dealt with his opponent Jonas Sultan on the card? It could be.

”Kal is ready for the challenge of unification but we also really like the Chocolatito fight and have already opened talks with his team,” Hearn said to ”Kal made a big statement over here and I can see him staying in the States for his next fight.”

Looks like Hearn wants Yafai to fight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai’s leftovers, doesn’t it? The last time I checked, Roman Gonzalez was beaten in his last two fights by WBC super flyweight champion Rungvisai. The logical question is why isn’t Hearn trying to setup a fight between Yafai and Rungvisai? I mean, that would seem like the move that Hearn should be making, right? If Hearn wants to build Yafai into a star, then why would he match him against a fighter like ‘Chocolatito,’ who has lost two in a row and looks shot to pieces at 30-years-old. That’s not old for a fighter, but it is for Gonzalez, because he’s had a lot of hard fights during his 13-year pro career, especially his last three against Rungvisai twice and Carlos Cuadras.

I hate to break this to Hearn, but Yafai DIDN’T make a big statement at the Save Mart Arena last night. On the contrary, he made a mess of his fight with his 2 low blow knockdowns, and another knockdown that was a result of a push in round 5. The second knockdown in round 5 was from a low blow by Yafai. After Carmona fell on the canvas in agony from the low blow, Yafai tagged him while he was down. The referee took a point away because of Yafai hitting Carmona while he was down. The referee didn’t waive off the knockdown as he should have. Hearn says Yafai “made a big statement over here,” I beg to disagree. The only statement that Yafai made is how he could get away with low blows and get credit for knockdowns that shouldn’t have been.

“I’ll fight anyone. I’ll sit down with my team, sit down with promoter Eddie Hearn and we’ll see what’s out there and earn with Hearn, baby!” Yafai said.

I’m not sure what the upside of Yafai and Hearn going after a fight against ‘Chocolaito’ right now. What does Yafai stand to gain fighting Gonzalez with him coming off of a 4th round knockout and 2 consecutive losses to Rungvisai? Of course, it fits the pattern of what we saw with Yafai’s fight against Carmona, who came into the fight with three losses in his last four fights. Carmona’s recent ring record in his previous four fights was 1-3 going into the Yafai fight. If Hearn is able to sign Chocolatito to fight Yafai, he’d be coming into the fight with a 0-2 record in his last two fights. It seems to me that Yafai would be better off facing Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20 KOs) or Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40 KOs). Those two are world champions at super flyweight. Shouldn’t that be the goal for Yafai – to take on world champions rathr than a fighter who was beaten twice in a row by Rungvisai.

The wily Hearn is obviously looking to build Yafai’s name the effortless way by putting him in with a guy that is clearly over-the-hill now in Gonzalez. Why didn’t Hearn match Yafai against Gonzalez when he was still in top form and winning all his fights? I’m just saying. Why did Hearn wait until Chocolatito lost two consecutive fights before trying to match him against Yafai. Hearn doesn’t realize that you can’t turn a fighter like Yafai into a star by matching him against over-the-hill fighters, and that’s what it seems that he’s trying to do. Last night, Hearn had Yafai facing a fighter that had lost 3 out of his last 4 fights in David Carmona. The fight was a showcase type of contest. Showcase = mismatch designed to make a fighter look better than he is.

Gonzalez would be another show case fight, because he’s clearly a shot fighter. In his prime and fight at minimiumweight, light flyweight and flyweight, Gonzalez was one of the best fighters in boxing during this era. But now that Gonzalez has hit 30 and is fighting outside of his weight class a super flyweight, he’s not the same fighter that he was years ago. I’m not sure what the story is for why Gonzalez doesn’t drop back down to at least the flyweight division where he had enormous success, but he’s clearly not at his best weight in fighting at super flyweight.

Since moving up to 115 in 2016, Gonzalez has taken a shellacking in fights against Carlos Cuadras and Rungvisai. Gonzalez beat Cuadras by a close 12 round unanimous decision in September 2016, but he took a boatload of punishment in that fight. Gonzalez’s face was unrecognizable after the Cuadras fight, as it was so badly lumped up. It’s a mystery why Gonzalez didn’t take that as a clue that he needed to move back down to 112 to fight at flyweight, because his punching power didn’t carry up with him when he moved up to 115. That’s understandable because this is Gonzalez’s fourth weight class.

If Yafai moved up four weight classes, he’d be fighting at super featherweight against the likes of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis. Yafai would be totally out of his element fighting someone like Gervonta. If Gonzalez isn’t going to retire, he at least needs to move down in weight so that he doesn’t become a target for paper champions like Yafai to use him to pad his record with his name. I think it’s a weak move on Hearn and Yafai’s part to be targeting an over-the-hill Gonzalez. Why isn’t Yafai and Hearn looking to make the fight with Ancajas? That’s the whole reason Top Rank put Ancajas and Yafai on the same card. They want the two to face each other in the fall. Hearn seems to have other ideas. Perhaps Hearn saw how good Ancajas looked in beating Sultan, and figures that it would be a step too for Yafai to take.

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