By Dean Berman: Former #1 pound-for-pound king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez vs. Kal Yafai was confirmed on Thursday for the loaded Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas card on on February 29 LIVE on DAZN at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Chocolatito has knee problems for the last couple of years, but he’s finally gotten that taken care of.
WBA World super flyweight champion Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs) needs a win over Chocolatito to help increase his popularity, and set him up for a fight later this year against Juan Francisco Estrada. Chocolatito has been brought in to give Yafai a name to add to his resume. This is obviously not a prime Chocolatito that Yafai is facing, but still a highly talented and dangerous fighter.
Yafai’s promoter Eddie Hearn says a the two fights with Chocolatito and Estrada will set Yafai, 30, up for life financially. First, Yafai has to get passed Gonzalez, and he may not be able to do it. Yafai looked pedestrian in his wins Israel Gonzalez and Sho Ishida. He’s a good fighter, but not another Naoya Inoue.
Hearn raves about Yafai facing legend Gonzalez
“This is a brilliant fight on an absolute monster of a show!” said promoter Hearn. “Kal Yafai has been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time and now he gets it against a legend of the sport in Chocolatito. This card in Texas is going to be epic and you can expect Yafai v Chocolatito to be an all-out war!”
This is this is a fight that will tell whether the former 4 division world champion Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs) has anything left. A lot of boxing fans feel that Chocolatito, 32, is a faded fighter due to his 2 defeats to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017.
What a lot of boxing fans fail to realize is that Gonzalez hasn’t looked good since moving up to 115. This is his 4th division since starting his career out at minimumweight. Gonzalez was at his best when he fought at 108 and 112. When he moved up to 115, that’s when he started to have problems against the bigger fighters in that division.
In Chocolatito’s first fight at 115, he beat Carlos Cuadras by a grueling 12 round unanimous decision in 2016. Chocolatito should have seen that fight as a hint that he didn’t belong in the 115-lb weight class. Cuadras was bigger and stronger than Chocolatito. In watching that fight, it was obvious that Gonzalez was fighting in the wrong division. He needed to be back at 112.
Does Chocolatito have enough left to beat Yafai?
It’s difficult to tell if Chocolatito has enough left in the tank to beat Yafai or not, since he’s not had a real fight since 2017. In Gonzalez’s 2 fights since his loss to Rungvisai, he’s beaten Moises Fuentes and Diomel Diocos.
If Yafai had fought Rungvisai twice in a row, boxing fans would be saying he’s shot. Rungvisai is a huge puncher, and he would likely have beaten Yafai without any problems. Not surprisingly, Yafai’s promoter Hearn of Matchroom Boxing never attempted to match him against Rungvisai, and you can’t blame him for not doing that.
Although Hearn would never admit it, he never showed interest in matching Yafai with Rungvisai. It was smart to keep Yafai away from the likes of Rungvisai, Estrada, Naoya Inoue, Jerwin Ancajas and Donnie Nietes.
Consequently, it’s difficult to say for sure if Chocolatito is the same fighter he was before his losses to Rungvisai, being that this is a guy that he would have had problems with even early in his career.
Also on the Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas card, WBC World flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs) defends against Jay Harris (17-0, 9 KOs). Martinez has looked great in beating Cristofer Rosales, Charlie Edwards and Andrew Selby in his last three fights.