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Roman Gonzalez vs. Kal Yafai possible for June 23

Roman Gonzalez Kal Yafai Matchroom Boxing


By Tim Royner: Former four division world champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (47-2, 39 KOs) says negotiations have started for a fight between him and WBA World super flyweight champion Kal Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs) on June 23 in the UK, according to La Prensa.

Gonzalez’s manager Carlos Blandon and co-promoter Akihiko Honda are working on a deal with Yafai’s promoter Eddie Hearn for a fight on June 23 in the UK. Yafai, 29, has wanted to fight Chocolatito for a while now, and it appears he’s finally going to get his chance. It can’t come soon enough, considering Yafai almost lost his last fight to Israel Gonzalez last November.

Yafai fought poorly throughout, and appeared to barely win the fight. The scoring was very one-sided with the judges giving Yafai a wide decision by the scores 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112. Yafai fought well enough to win by the score 115-112 in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans. Yafai did enough to get the win, but definitely not by the scores handed in by the three judges.

Israel Gonzalez has recently been knocked out by IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas last year in February. Ancajas dominated Gonzalez from start to finish in stopping him in the 10th round. The difference between how Ancajas dealt with Gonzalez and the way that Yafai did was like night and day. Ancajas had an easy time being Gonzalez. That’s not all that surprising, considering how powerful Ancajas is as a puncher.

“I’m willing to fight him in England,” Chocolatito said to laprensa.com.ni. “It will be for the [WBA 115 lb] title. The fight against Yafai will not be easy because he moves well and combines his hands well. You have to train hard to bring that championship.”

Chocolatito doesn’t seem to mind that he’ll need to travel to the UK to make the fight with Yafai a reality. This fight could prove to be more difficult than Roman thinks it’ll be if he has to deal with judging issues or a referee that has different ideas of how fights should be officiated. It could be a good idea for Gonzalez to make sure he understands that he’s going to be the visiting fighter, and that might need to win the fight beyond a shadow of a doubt.

A knockout would be the best way for Roman to achieve that goal, but he’s got to make sure he can get to Yafai. Kal likes to move around a lot to avoid punishment. If Yafai decides he wants to try and win a decision, he could play hit and run for 12 rounds and make it an ugly fight to watch. With the kind of judging that worked Yafai’s last fight against Israel Gonzalez, it could be difficult for Chocolatito to win without scoring a knockout.

Gonzalez has lost two out of his last three fights since 2017. He was beaten twice by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. He took a lot of punishment in both fights. In the first fight in 2017, Gonzalez lost his World Boxing Council super flyweight title to Srisaket in losing a controversial 12 round majority decision. In their rematch, Rungvisai stopped a discouraged looking Gonzalez in the fourth round. That fight showed that Gonzalez lacked the size and punching power to compete with the bigger, stronger Rungvisai.

For some reason, Gonzalez does not want to move back down to flyweight, where he was more suited for the weight class, and unbeatable. After losing those two fights to Rungvisai, Gonzalez ended his losing streak in stopping former world champion Moises Flores by a fifth round knockout last September on the undercard of Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin II at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gonzalez fought a lot better against Flores, but he wasn’t facing a devastating puncher like he had been in his two fights against Rungvisai.

There had been talk that Yafai would be fighting IBF chmpion Jerwin Ancajas in a unification fight. However, the interest in that fight seems to have died down since Yafai’s awful showing against Israel Gonzalez. That performance showed that it would be a bad idea on Matchroom Boxing’s part to let Ancajas anywhere near Yafai. The Filipino knockout artist Ancajas is looking too powerful, too talented and too young for the likes of Yafai.

Chocolatito should win this fight against Yafai, as long as his knee issues are behind him. Chocolatito looked sensational in his last fight against Flores, but that was against against a former WBO Minimumweight Champion. Gonzalez has moved up four divisions during his 14 year pro career, and it seems obvious that he doesn’t belong at 115. Gonzalez’s first fight at super flyweight against Carlos Cuadras in 2016 showed that he doesn’t have the same punching power in the super flyweight division as he had when he was fighting at 105, 108 and 112. Those are better weight classes for Chocolatito in terms of his power. However, Gonzalez’s combination punching, and high work rate still make him a very good fighter at super flyweight.

The problem for Gonzalez is he gets hit a lot, and the guys at 115 hit harder than the ones that he was facing in the lower weight classes. Gonzalez was knocking everybody out when he was fighting at 105, 108 and 112. Gonzalez clearly isn’t doing that at 115. In Chocolatito’s four fights at super flyweight, his record is 2-2. In three of those fights, Gonzalez took a lot of heavy punishment, and looked bad afterwards.

Yafai had looked impressive before running into Israel Gonzalez. Yafai won the WBA World super flyweight title in 2016 in beating Luis Concepcion. Yafai has since defended his WBA title four times, beating Suguru Muranaka, Sho Ishida, David Carmona and Israel Gonzalez. Yafai looked good in the first three fights before running into a guy with talent for the first time in his career against Gonzalez. Yafai was lucky to win that fight.

Chocolatito unbelievably still wants to fight Rungvisai to try and avenge his two losses against him. It’s possible that if Chocolatito does beat Yafai, he’ll go after either Rungvisai or Jerwin Ancajas in a unification. Knowing Yafai’s promoter Eddie Hearn, he’ll make sure there’s a rematch between Kal and Chocolatito.

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