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Juan Franciso Estrada vs. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez – prediction

Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada boxing photo

By Dan Ambrose: Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) will be trying to turn back the clock tonight to prevent the favorite Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) from avenging his previous loss to him in their fight in the Matchroom promoted card at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

WBA super flyweight champion Estrada, 30, is still bitter about his loss to Chocolatito in November 2012, and it’s clear that he hasn’t quite come to terms with why he was beaten.

Some of Estrada’s loyal fans attribute his defeat to him being younger than Chocolatito, whereas others blame his loss on being weak. Estrada had been fighting at 112 and 115 at the time he fought Chocolatito at 108 in 2012.

Now eight years later, Estrada is at his best at 115, and if he loses tonight for a second time to Chocolatito, fans won’t be able to blame it on the weight. Estrada will have to admit that Chocolatito has a bad style for him.

Chocolatito isn’t in his prime now, but he still has great offensive weapons that will make it tough for Estrada tonight. If Chocolatito can throw as many punches as he did in the first fight, Estrada will be hard-pressed to try and win.

Has Chocolatito turned back the clock?

“You got a fighter that is probably not in his prime, Gonzalez,” said Chris Mannix on SI Boxing with Chris Mannix. “He boxed back nicely after Rungvisai with a knockout win over Kal Yafai.

Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada boxing photo

“He picked up another win against Israel Gonzalez. There’s no question that Gonzalez was the superior fighter [against Estrada] in 2012, and now the script has been flipped a little bit.

“Estrada is the fighter in his prime, and he’s doing it in a weight class he’s far more comfortable in. Now, I wonder what we have in Chocolatito. His fight with Kal Yafai was supposed to have been a scalp for Kal Yafai.

“He was supposed to have gotten Chocolatito’s name on his resume. Gonzalez turned the tables and won that fight. Do you believe Gonzalez has turned back the clock after that fight, or do you think the Sor Rungvisai loss still lingers?”

“When it comes to greatness, you can never doubt greatness,” said Sergio Mora. “Even though that wasn’t classic Chocolatito, when you talk about these legends, even when they’re past their prime, they can still muster up great victories.

“This is what Chocolatito reminds me of, a Roberto Duran. Incredibly, these fighters that are past their prime can still beat fighters in their prime. El Gallo Estrada is in his prime.

“This is a fighter that is a pound-for-pound top 10 great fighting a legend. You can never doubt greatness. You can never doubt great fighters. Chocolatito was knocked out brutally [by Rungvisai].

“Normally, when a fighter has been knocked out brutally, they’re never the same. He just proved against Kal Yafai that he could bring out that inner greatness again.

“We’re in the presence of greatness here. They can muster up something great that we can’t.”

Estrada should be fighting at 122, not 115 at this point in his career, and he might not have the engine to match Chocolatito’s furious pace tonight.

If you look at how big Estrada was during the build-up to the fight, he clearly should be fighting at 122 or 126.

Gonzalez must apply pressure to win

“I don’t doubt that Chocolatito will be a Hall of Famer when his career is over,” said Mannix. “What are you looking for in this fight? What is the X-factor in this fight?

“For me, can Chocolatito still apply the same type of pressure that he did in the first fight [with Estrada]? In the first fight, he was at his most successful when he was applying the pressure.

“He hurt Estrada in those middle rounds. Estrada said it himself that he had to dig deep to survive those middle rounds. To me, can Gonzalez at 115 apply the same type of pressure to Estrada as he did at 108?”

“Yes, I think that’s his only way to win,” said Mora when asked if Chocolatito can beat Estrada with pressure as he did in 2012. “Against Kal Yafai, he was making it easier for Chocolatito.”

“I don’t think Kal Yafai understood what kind of shape he had to be in to fight the guy [Chocolatito]. You had to be able to move,” said Mannix.

“Kal Yafai fought the wrong fight,” said Mora. “With Israel Gonzalez, Chocolatito showed vintage Chocolatito. The aggression, the angles, the way he was able to cut off the ring. We saw what made him a little giant.”

“I didn’t love that performance,” said Mannix about Chocolatito’s win over Israel Gonzalez in his last fight. “Gonzalez [Israel] was kind of a fringe contender.”

There’s no question that Roman must apply constant pressure on ‘El Gallo’ Estrada and throw nonstop punches. Estrada has problems when he faces fighters with high work rates, which don’t let him get his shots off.

We saw Estrada struggle from Chocolatito’s high work rate in 2012, but also in his two fights with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Estrada lost the first fight because Rungvisai outworked and outpunched him.

In the second fight, Estrada reduced Rungvisai’s work rate by staying on the move and not trading. Estrada used an ugly hit and run fighting style to nick a close win. It wasn’t pretty but worked just barely.

We might see Estrada use the same hit-and-run approach against Chocolatito tonight if he can’t handle the heat in the kitchen.

Roman can’t afford to lose

“[Israel] Gonzalez has been in with some damn good names, and it was a convincing one-sided win,” said Mora about Roman’s victory over Israel Gonzalez.

“It was the way he won. He backed him up and beat him. I gave Gonzalez one round; I was watching that fight last night. So it was the way he beat him.

“If he [Roman] had struggled against him and had been rocked a couple of times, then I would have said, ‘Now, we’re talking about a fighter past his prime, and I can be honest.’

“We’re talking about a special once-in-a-lifetime type of fighter in Chocolatito. With Estrada, we’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt that he struggled with weight [in his first fight against Chocolatito in 202], and he dehydrated in a weight class [108] that he wasn’t comfortable in.

“That’s why there are so many intriguing questions going into this fight. All eyes should be on this fight.

“If you’re a boxing fan, you’re seeing two of the best, not just at this moment, but in the last 10 years. In the fight against Kal Yafai, I displayed my awe of Chocolatito. Be prepared for something special.”

“[Roman] Gonzalez is 33; he’ll be turning 34 in the middle of June. Do you think this is win or go home [retire] for him?” said Mannix.

“Absolutely, 100%,” said Mora about Chocolatito needing this win to keep going. “I don’t think there’s a middle ground.Β  I think he’s going to win convincingly, or he’s going to lose convincingly, and that’s how great fighters go out.”

A loss tonight for Roman might very well be the end of his career, especially if he’s beaten badly by Estrada. The only way Chocolatito can come back from this is if he moves back down to 112 or 108, but it’s unclear if he’s able to fight in those weight classes at this stage of his career.

It would be worth a try for Roman, but it’s not likely that he will move back down.

Prediction

Juan Franciso Estrada wins tonight based on his superior size, youth, and his mobility. Chocolatito is basically a 108-pounder, who doesn’t belong at 115, and we’ve since he first moved up in weight in 2016.

Like I said earlier, Estrada is a 122 to 126-pounder, who is still able to meltdown to fight at 115. He’s going to have a tremendous size advantage tonight against Chocolatito, and that’ll be enough for him to win by a 12 round decision.

I don’t see Estrada stopping Chocolatito because he doesn’t have enough power, and for him to knock him out, he would stand in the pocket. Estrada won’t do that because he’ll get chewed up.




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