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Eddie Hearn wants Roman Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada unification fight

Image: Eddie Hearn wants Roman Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada unification fight

By Allan Fox:  Roman ‘Chocolatito Gonzalez could be fighting Juan Francisco Estrada in a unification fight next following his big win over WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai last Saturday night.

Promoter Eddie Hearn stated during the post-fight press conference last Saturday that he likes the Gonzalez-Estrada unification fight for Chocolatito’s next match, and wants to stage the bout in either California or Mexico.

“I promised my kids I would become a champion again,” said Gonzalez.

It’ll be up to Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KOs) and manager Mr. Honda if they want to take the unification match against WBC super flyweight champion Estrada (40-3, 27 KOs).

Hearn also mentioned several other options for Chocolatito against the following fighters:

  • Kazuto Ioka
  • Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  • Carlos Cuadras

Yafai has a rematch clause that he could use to force a second fight against Gonzalez, but Hearn says he’ll try and persuade him to move up to bantamweight because he’s now struggling to make the 115-lb limit.

The former 4 division and pound-for-pound king Gonzalez battered WBA super flyweight champion Yafai (26-1, 15 KOs) in stopping him in the 9th round last Saturday night in their fight on DAZN at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Compared to some of Yafai’s earlier defenses of his WBA title, he didn’t look well. He was heavy, slow and not the same skillful higher that had dominated his opponents from 2016 to 2019.

Hearn prefers Gonzalez fight Estrada next

“For me, I love the Estrada fight. You’ve got the Rungvisai trilogy, but it’s really up to Roman, his manager, and the training team. We’ll be there to provide another historic moment and platform for him,” said Hearn.

“Yes, that’s a natural unification fight,” said Hearn when asked if Roman will fight WBC super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada in 2020. “You’ve got [WBO champion Kazuto] Ioka as well.  Estrada, we were talking about fighting [Carlos] Cuadras in May or June, but for me, I’d like to go straight into a unification fight,” said Hearn.

Gonzalez was twice beaten by Rungvisao (47-5-1, 41 KOs) in 2017, but many thought he deserved the victory in the first fight. In the second fight against Rungvisai in September 2017, Gonzalez was stopped in the 4th round. However, he looked demotivated for the fight and didn’t seem to have the fire.

Rungvisai was recently dethroned as the WBC super flyweight champion by Estrada in a 12 round decision defeat last April, and he hasn’t fought since. Despite the defeat, Rungvisai remains highly ranked at #1 with the World Boxing Council. He’ll be fighting next month on April 4 against Amnat Ruenroeng in Thailand.

If Roman is going to fight Rungvisai again, he’ll need to change his fighting style. He can’t afford to slug with Rungvisai like he did in his two previous fights because that doesn’t work. Rungvisai hits too hard, and Roman’s face can’t handle that kind of punishment.

Cuadras created the blueprint in how to beat Rungivisai by using in and out movement and staying out of range. It worked for him, and Estrada used the same style effectively to beat Rungvisai.

Chocolatito didn’t let Yafai use his game plan

“I promoted Kal Yafai from his debut and I wanted to give him that big fight, and we hoped he would be able to box at the level of a pound-for-pound great fighter,” said Hearn in talking on Yafai’s loss to Roman at the post-fight news conference.

“I also thought that maybe Roman might be getting a little bit old, but we were wrong on both accounts. Roman was fantastic. Although Kal lost, even he feels it was a special fight because he lost to a great fighter. He didn’t box to the game plan because Roman didn’t let him box to the game plan.

“When he tried to box to the game plan, Roman used his feet so well, cut him off and put the pressure on him and made him go back to the other way he was fighting, which wasn’t working. He was just too good. We’ll be working with Mr. Honda moving forward, and it’s up to Roman and the team,” said Hearn.

There will be more interest from boxing fans in the U.S in a fight between Gonzalez and Estrada than fights involving Rungvisai, Cuadras or a rematch with Yafai. You can’t entirely rule out the possibility of Yafai forcing a second fight with Gonzalez.

If Yafai feels that he can get in better shape for a second contest against Chocolatito, then we could see a rematch.

Chocolatito will decide his next opponent

“Also, Rungvisai is in that mix as well and Ioka, but I think Chocolatito against Estrada is a huge fight, particularly in Mexico but also in California. We have a partnership now,” said Hearn.

“Whenever a champion gives an opportunity to another fighter, although we felt that Chocolatito was giving Yafai the opportunity to share the ring with him, we had a situation where Yafai could maybe look at a rematch, but he’s going to be moving up in weight.

“It clears the way for Chocolatito and Mr. Honda to decide what they want to do. If they tell me they want to fight Estrada, then I’ll make the fight with Estrada. If they tell me they want to fight Rungvisai, we can make the fight with Rungvisai. The natural fight seems to be a unification,” said Hearn.

Roman is clear before his fight with Yafai that he wants to fight a rematch with Estrada, who he defeated in 2012. That’s the fight that attracts the most fan interest in the U.S and Mexico.

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