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Kal Yafai vs Roman Gonzalez in the works for Feb.29 in Dallas, TX

Jessie Vargas Mikey Garcia Roman Gonzalez

By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn is negotiating a fight between Kal Yafai and former 4 division world champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez for February 29 in Dallas, Texas. Hearn wants to add Yafai vs. Chocolatito to the Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargs card on Matchroom Boxing on DAZN.

Eddie had originally hoped to put together a unification fight between WBC 115-1b champion Juan Francisco Estrada and Yafai, but those plans were dashed after the Mexican star suffered a hand injury training. So instead of Estrada, Hearn is working on Chocolatito vs. Yafai for the 29th of February.

Also on the February 29th Mikey vs. Vargas card, Hearn plans on having WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs) defend his title. That’ll be a quick turnaround for the exciting Martinez, who recently stopped Christofer Rosales (29-5, 20 KOs) by a 9th round knockout on the Daniel Jacobs vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. card on December 20.

The young 24-year-old Martinez was cut in that fight, however. If Martinez is going to return in just 2 months after suffering a cut against Rosales, he’s going to need to heal fast.

Yafai could face Estrada in U.S if he gets passed Chocolatito on February

Hearn’s grand plan is for the 2008 Olympian Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs) to defeat the former #1 pound-for-pound King Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs) on February 29, and then face WBC champ Estrada (40-3, 27 KOs) in the United States in a big unification fight.

Hearn believes that Yafai, 30, could be transformed into a star if he beats Chocolatito and Estrada in consecutive fights. At the very least, Hearn sees Yafai becoming financially set from the money he makes from those 2 fights.

Yafai can become star if he beats Chocolatito – Hearn

“Kal is very unlucky, because Kal was signed and confirmed to fight Juan [Fransisco] Estrada in a unification fight in Miami on January 30th,” said Eddie Hearn to IFL TV. “All of a sudden you get one of those dreaded phone calls. ‘Eddie, bad news; Estrada has busted his hand. He’s going to need an operation. He’s not going to be available until May.’

“This is the one fight that we wanted for Kal,” said Hearn of Estrada. “And this was his chance to have a flagship fight, a big money fight. So now I’m thinking, ‘What can we do?’ January 30th is coming, and is passing us by. It’s been 6 months since he boxed.

“Now we move on to ‘Chocolatito, and now this is the fight that I’m trying to make for February 29th on the Mikey Garcia fight in Dallas,” said Hearn. “If he can beat Chocolatito, then he goes into the Estrada fight in great shape in terms of his earning potential and his star power,” said Hearn.

It’s doubtful that Yafai will be able to beat both Chocolatito AND Estrada to achieve Hearn’s vision of him turning into a star. In fact, it’s likely that Yafai will come unglued against Chocolatito on February 29th, as the Nicaraguan is still fighting at a high level. He looked sensational in stopping Diomel Diocos (14-6-3, 4 KOs) in the 2nd round on December 23 at the Arena in Yokohama, Japan.

Since winning the WBA super flyweight belt with a win over Luis Concepcion in 2016, Yafai has beaten these fighters:

  • Suguru Muranaka
  • Sho Ishida
  • David Carmona
  • Israel Gonzalez
  • Norbelto Jimenez

Yafai vs. Roman Gonzalez is breakout fight for Kal

“That Chocolatito fight is a break out fight,” Hearn said about Kal Yafai. “It’s not done yet. There’s interest from Mr. Honda, and Chocolatito. We’re negotiating, and there’s a very good chance that fight can land on the Mikey Garcia card. In my opinion, he’s not quite as good as he was three years ago. He just got a good stoppage. Very dangerous , and a huge name. A legend? Certainly in boxing terms.

“It’s a great fight for Kal, and a great occasion,” said Hearn in continuing to talk about Chocolatito. “I’m very proud of the job we’ve done with Kal…For a super flyweight, he’s made a hell of a lot of money, and he’d had 5 defenses of his WBA world title. This is the fight [against Roman Gonzalez] that is going to secure him financially, and also the upside of the win.

“The Estrada fight is a really tough fight, and a chance to unify,” said Hearn. “But this fight, if you win this fight, it takes the Estrada fight to a big main event fight in America, and a big opportunity for him. And I really believe he can beat Roman Gonzalez, I do.

“I think it’s a great fight, and I think it’s a war, and I think it would be a brilliant addition to the Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas card on February 29,” said Hearn.

This is a really tough fight for Yafai, considering how much talent that Gonzalez has. Chocolatito was out of the ring for a year after having knee surgery, and he looked sharp in returning to action against Diocos on December 23.

Roman Gonzalez might have too much talent for Yafai

A lot of boxing fans are writing Chocolatito off due to his 2 losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but that was against a bigger fighter with a lot more power. Hearn never matched Yafai against Rungvisai, and you have to figure that was on purpose.

Rungvisai is one guy that Hearn didn’t show interest in putting in with Yafai, and the reasons are obvious. With Rungvisai’s punching power, he likely would have taken Yafai apart with ease. Yafai is a good fighter, but he’s already been exposed in his close fights over Ishida and Israel Gonzalez.

Hearn needs to have his feet on the ground, and realize that Chocolatito will likely beat Yafai, and make it look easy. The fact that Yafai struggled against Ishida and Israel Gonzalez is a pretty big indication that he’s not going to do well against Chocolatito.

Yafai might be able to run around the ring, and box Roman, but that’s not going to win the fight. The bout will be taking place in the United States. Yafai won’t get a cheap win by spoiling against Chocolatito for 12 rounds, especially in Dallas.


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