By Dan Ambrose: Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez is looking in great shape in training for his fight in 3 1/2 weeks from now against WBA World super flyweight champion Kal Yafai on February 29 on DAZN and Sky Sports at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
If Gonzalez beats Yafai, he’ll upset his plans on fighting a unification match against WBC super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada later this year. Yafai is expected to get a big payday in that fight. If Gonzalez beats Yafai, then it’ll be him that likely faces Estrada next in a rematch. Chocolatito already beat Estrada in November 2012 by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision.
Chocolatito looks in great shape in working on the heavy bag, and showing that his speed, power and mobility is there. Gonalez had been dealing with a knee injury for over a year, and finally he got it taken care of.
Gonzalez, 32, isn’t that much older than the 30-year-old Yafai, but he’s considered over-the-hill due to his 2 defeats at the hands of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Yafai never fought Rungvisai, but there’s a good chance he would lose to him as well.
No one else has beaten Chocolatito Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs) yet to show that he is finished as fighter, so it’ll be interesting to see if Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs) has enough talent to finish the former 4 division world champion and #1 pound-for-pound king.
Yafai expects Gonzalez to be at his best
“It moved pretty quick because I was meant to fight Estrada in mid-December, and then he had a hand issue,” said Yafai to Boxing Social. “Eddie managed to get me the Chocolatito fight, and that’s how it happened. I’m just happy I’ve got that big fight that I’ve been wanting. I’m expecting the toughest Chocolatito there is.
“I’d be a fool to think he’s shot, and is past his best,” said Yafai on Gonzalez. “The way I’m taking it he’s at his best still. He’s had a good break, and he’s come back with two knockout wins, even though they’re not against great opponents.
“He needed to refresh himself and he’s going to be hungry to win a world title again,” Yafai said about Chocolatito. “But I’ve been asking for a big fight for a long time, and I’ve been starving for it. He’s a guy that I’ve looked up to, and he’s an idol. I’ve even been out to LA to watch him fight before, but I’ve got to do a job on him to prove that I’m one of the best,” said Yafai.
Gonzalez has looked good in returning from a 15 month layoff to stop Diomel Diocos in round 2 last December. Obviously it would be better if Chocolatito took another tune-up before challenging Yafai for his title, but he feels he’s ready.
Roman Gonzalez will try and pressure says Yafai
“100 percent, I’ve got the bit between my teeth, and I’m very excited,” said Yafai about being motivated for Roman fight. “I can’t explain how excited I am for the fight. I’m really excited, and I’m happy. I know the type of opponents I’ve been fighting, and obviously they’re not names. I’m expected to win those fights in style. I know what I got to do, and I know what I’m capable of doing.
“To come forward, and be very aggressive,” said Yafai in predicting how Gonzalez will fight. “That’s his game, and that’s what he does. He ain’t going to do nothing else. I don’t think he’s going to try and out-box me, is he? He’s going to try and put it on me, and make me feel uncomfortable, but that’s great.
“I thrive on pressure, and I know what I got to do. I don’t feel any pressure,” said Yafai in making it clear he’s not worried about Chocolatito. “I’m going into the biggest fight of my life, fighting a legend in the sport for big money. It’s great. That’s why I went into boxing, and that’s what I have dreams of doing,” said Yafai.
Chocolatito is a pressure fighter, and that’s how he’s captured world titles in four weight classes. The reason it’s harder for him now is because this is his 4th weight class, and he’s now facing guys that are naturally bigger than him at super flyweight. That’s tough on Chocolatito.
Yafai started his career at super flyweight, and did not show any interest in moving up. When Chocolatito was the same age as Yafai, he’d already won 4 division world titles.
Yafai prefers Chocolatito fight over Estrada
“The dreams are coming true. I’m happy. 100 percent, if that can be done, yeah,” said Yafai when asked if he’d like to try and reschedule the Juan Francisco Estrada fight if he beats Chocolatito. “That’s one of the pound for pound best fighters for huge money.
“The Estrada one is a unification, and he’s a top six pound-for-pound,” said Yafai. “It’s a brilliant fight, but Gonzalez is more well known, he’s a former pound for pound king, and it brings a lot to the table. It’s a better fight for viewers to watch, me and Gonzalez. I think it’ll be more action instead of more of a chess match.
“I’m not really bothered, but I kind of lean towards Gonzalez, because I’ve wanted the fight for a long time,” said Yafai. “So I think it was meant to be. Everything was right for the Gonzalez fight, the deal and everything. It’s exactly the same as the Estrada fight, so happy days,” said Yafai.
In terms of worldwide attention, Yafai is getting more notice in fighting Gonzalez than if he were to fight Estrada. Again, this about achievement, and Gonzalez has accomplished more in his career than Estrada. We haven’t seen Estrada win four division world titles, and he’s never been the #1 pound for pound king.