By Charles Brun: Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez says he wants to look for a unification match should he defeat WBA World super flyweight champion Khalid Yafai in their fight in 11 days from now on February 29 live on DAZN in the U.S and Sky Sports in the UK at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
The 32-year-old Chocolatito (48-2, 40 KOs), is getting ahead of himself a little in talking about fighting unification matches against the 115-lb champions in the division. He’s the underdog against the slightly younger 30-year-old Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs).
Chocolatito with a lot to prove
Some boxing fans feel that Chocolatito Gonzalez is over-the-hill because he lost to the bigger, stronger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai twice in 2017. However, this is the same fighter that beat Juan Francisco Estrada in 2018, and no one was saying that Estrada was shot after losing.
Unlike Chocolatito, Estrada used a lot of movement to Rungvisai for 12 rounds, but he was still clearly beaten by him. What’s obvious is Chocolatito had the wrong game plan for his two fights against Rungvisai. He should have boxed him the way Estrada did, but he thought he could win by going to war the way he’d done in winning world titles at 105, 108, 112 and 115. That turned out to be a mistake on Roman’s part in fighting that way against Rungvisai.
The former four-division world champion Gonzalez recently came off of a long 15-month break to stop journeyman Diomel Diocos in a 2nd round knockout on December 23 in Yokohama, Japan. Now Gonzalez is fighting for a world title in just his second fight back from a long break.
It’s not exactly ideal for Chocolatito, and it’s clearly a huge gamble on his part in quickly fighting for a world title after just one tune-up. Chocolatito should probably be taking 2 or 3 tune-ups before fighting for a world title, but he’s made the decision to go straight into a title fight after just warm-up bout.
That’s good for Yafai, who looked shaky against the one good fighter he’s faced during his career in Israel Gonzalez. It doesn’t matter if Yafai isn’t the best champion at 115 or even the second-best, he’s still one of the top guys in the weight class.
Yafai with size advantage over Gonzalez
Additionally, Yafai is a lot heavier than Gonzalez and better suited to the division. He hasn’t gone 4 weight classes the way Gonzalez has during his career. If so, then Yafai would be trying to compete with super featherweights like Miguel Berchelt, Oscar Valdez and Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz.
I’d wish Yafai a lot of luck if he tried to undertake that endeavor. The sole reason why Gonzalez is having problems now is he’s gone up too many weight classes, and he’s now bumped into a hard ceiling in which his limited size has caused him issues.
This is a difficult fight to predict though. Yafai has little experience against quality opposition as a professional, and he hasn’t faced any of the real tough guys like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Jerwin Ancajas, Donnie Nietes, and Kazuto Ioka.
When John Riel Casimero and Naoya Inoue were at 115, Yafai wasn’t matched against them either. So we don’t know how good Yafai is. We know how good Yafai is, which is why it’s difficult to predict how he’ll do against the smaller and older Chocolatito.
Gonzalez feels better after layoff
“We feel very confident about the conditioning, and we’ve worked really hard during this camp,” said Roman Gonzalez to The Ring Digital. “He’s a world champion and I think it’s going to be a hell of a fight. I’m taking this very with ease, and we’re going step by step. I see every fight alone, and we have to fight the fight first, and after that, we’ll see what comes.
“Maybe there will be a unification championship,” said Gonzalez. The only thing I can say is I bring the best condition of my life. As much as Yafai, I’m very well prepared. Once we step into the ring, we’re going to see what we bring to each other. This layoff will allow me to come back very strong.
“It could be Ioka, Estrada, it could be Ancajas,” said Roman when asked which champions he would want to unify against if he captures the WBC title against Yafai. “It would depend on which people are managing them and promoting them,” said Roman when asked which champions he would want to fight at super flyweight I come with everything I got. I trust in God that he gives me the strength and power to win this fight,” said Chocolatito.
Kal Yafai wants unification against Estrada
Yafai wants the same things that Chocolatito wants. He wants to unify against WBC super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada now that he’s the champion.
It’s unclear why Yafai wasn’t banging the drum for a unification fight when Srisaket Sor Rungvisai held the WBC title or when Naoya Inoue was the WBO belt holder.
It’s only now that Yafai is pushing for a unification fight. Perhaps Yafai is starting to realize that his time as a champion might be running out. His controversial decision over Israel Gonzalez highlighted his inadequacies as a champion, and that was against a guy that was easily beaten by Jerwin Ancajas.
This is Yafai’s sixth defense of his WBA 115-lb title that he won four years ago in 2016 in beating Luis Concepcion. Yafai has defended the belt five times against beatable opposition. He has a controversial 12 round decision win over Israel Gonzalez (25-3, 11 KOs) from November 2018 in Monte Carlo.
Chocolatito will have the crowd on his side
A lot of boxing fans thought Yafai deserved a loss in that fight. His promoter Eddie Hearn chose not to put Yafai back in with Gonzalez, and it’s easy to see why. Yafai might have lost to him in a second fight.
It’s quite likely that Yafai will get on his bike, and try and box Roman the entire fight. Yafai isn’t a slugger or combination puncher. He’s a guy that wins based on hitting and moving.
It obviously hasn’t hurt that Yafai’s promoter Hearn hasn’t matched him up against any of the good fighters at 115 during his eight-year pro career. So if Gonzalez is going to win this fight, he’s going to need to cut off the ring, and force Yafai to exchange with him.
One thing Chocolatito has going for him is the fight won’t be in the UK where Yafai is from. So if it goes to the scorecards, he might have a better shot at winning. The crowd at The Star in Frisco, Texas will likely be more inclined to cheer for Chocolatito rather than Yafai, and that could work to his benefit. Roman seems to fight better when he has the crowd behind him.