Roman Gonzalez is once again a world title holder…
The 32-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, known by his nickname “Chocolatito,” dominated Kal Yafai en route to a ninth-round demolition to take his junior bantamweight world title in the co-feature of the Mikey Garcia–Jessie Vargas card on Saturday night at The Ford Center at The Star, the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys.
As an up-and-coming fighter, Yafai, who was making his sixth title defense and in the biggest fight of his career, idolized Gonzalez. He watched his fights and even traveled to them when he could. And now he can say he was battered by Gonzalez, who won a 115-pound world title for the second time and added to an already impressive legacy.
Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KOs), who has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight, hadn’t been in the spotlight for the past couple of years following a pair of losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017, some lower-profile bouts and a 15-month layoff caused by a knee injury that required surgery.
But after getting healthy and winning a tune-up fight in Japan in December, he was ready to challenge Yafai for the title, and he dominated.
“I have God’s strength, and God gave me this title back,” Gonzalez said through an interpreter. “Everyone has the same blessing I got tonight. I always ask God for a blessing. I have a good team around me that brought me back. I thank Mr. [Akihiko] Honda, [of Teiken Promotions],Eddie Hearn and DAZN. They gave me the opportunity to once again become a world champion.”
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez will get the chance to earn another title…
The 32-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, the first boxer from Nicaragua to win world titles in four weight classes,will challenge junior bantamweight world titlist Kal Yafai on February 29 (DAZN) at the Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys training facility in Frisco, Texas, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.
The fight will be on the card headlined by the previously announced Mikey Garcia–Jessie Vargaswelterweight fight.
The WBAissued a resolution on Tuesday that cleared the way for the fight, which interim titlist and mandatory challenger Andrew Moloneyobjected to and had attorney Pat Englishwrite to the sanctioning body to assert his rights. He knocked out Miguel Gonzalezin March in an official eliminator, which the WBA had ruled would give the winner the next shot at Yafai following a defense against Norbelto Jimenez, whom he easily outpointed in June, no later than March 22.
However, the WBA ignored that ruling in its resolution ultimately writing “the WBA has express authority to modify applicable defense periods and otherwise suspend application of various rules under a special permit. Yafai’s special permit request is conditionally granted subject to his compliance with all other WBA rules, regulations, payment of all applicable fees and the following condition: The winner of Yafai/Gonzalez, or Yafai if a draw, must face Moloney as a mandatory defense within 120 days of said bout.”
English wrote back to the WBA to protest the decision, explaining that Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs), 29, of Australia, had twice turned down offers to challenge IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajasas well as a title eliminator in another organization because of his loyalty to the WBA, for whom he has fought in numerous regional title bouts as well as the title eliminator.
“This application (for Yafai-Gonzalez) has no merit whatsoever,” English wrote to the WBA. “It asks the WBA to violate solemn commitments to Mr. Moloney, both written and verbal. It would injure Mr. Moloney, a fighter who showed his loyalty to the WBA by turning down title bouts and elimination bouts in other organizations. If granted it would make a mockery of the mandatory system. It would be an insult to a country whose sole boxing champion is Andrew Moloney at a time when Australia is beset by terrible tragedy due to unprecedented wildfires. Further, the bout which is requested by Matchroom is an undercard bout, not a bout of ‘great significance’ to the boxing world.
“For these reasons, as well as the reasons set forth in this letter the application of Matchroom should and must be denied.”
Yafai is excited to get a fight with the biggest name in the division in Gonzalez, a lock as a future Hall of Famer.
“I wanted the biggest possible fight available and after the Juan Francisco Estradaunification fell through, I had the opportunity to fight ‘Chocolatito,’ the former pound for pound king,” Yafai said. “Chocolatito is someone that I have idolized as I worked my way up to become world champion myself, so it doesn’t get much bigger than this and it will bring out the best in me. I can’t wait, it is a case of when idols become rivals and I am so honored to share the ring with him but also show the world that I am an elite world champion.”
Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs), 30, of England, will be making the sixth defense of his 115-pound belt and second in a row — and third in his past four — in the United States. He was initially was going to face Estrada in early 2020 to unify 115-pound world titles but that was delayed because Estrada is sidelined with a hand injury.
That opened the door for Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs), who has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight.
A knee injury that required surgery kept Gonzalez out of the ring for 15 months, but he returned on Dec. 23 in Japan and notched a second-round knockout of Diomel Diocos to shake off the rust and put himself in position for another shot at a junior bantamweight world title.
“God has responded to my prayers once again. I want to thank God and (promoter) Teiken foremost. Also, the champion, Kal Yafai for giving me the opportunity to fight for the championship once again,” Gonzalez said. “I know this will be a very hard fight, but it will be worthy of all our efforts and determination.”
Said Hearn: “This is a brilliant fight on an absolute monster of a show. 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 versus ‘Chocolatito’ to be an all-out war.”
The card will also feature another world title bout that was previously announced. Newly crowned flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez(15-1, 12 KOs), 26, of Mexico, who won the belt on December 20, will make his first defense against European champion Jay Harris(17-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Wales.
Julio Cesar Martinez is ready to take on the champ…
The 24-year-old Mexican boxer is set to fight flyweight world titleholder Charlie Edwards on August 31 at the O2 Arena in London, as Edwards makes his mandatory title defense, according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.
The bout, Edwards’ second title defense, will be part of the card headlined by pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenkodefending his unified lightweight world title — and an attempt to claim a vacant belt as well — against England’s Luke Campbell.
Martinez (14-1, 11 KOs) earned the title shot by knocking out then-undefeated Andrew Selby, of Wales, in the fifth round on March 23 in Mexico.
“He’s a very tough Mexican who can bang with both hands,” Edwards said of Martinez. “His record shows that he’s a massive puncher and we saw that in his last fight against Andrew Selby. He got him out of there in the fifth round and was hurting him on a number of occasions. He’s coming to bring it and he’s going to try and rip that WBC title off me. This is his World Cupfinal.
“He’s going to put it all on the line. He’s going to be coming hard and fast from early to try and put me under pressure, but I believe my boxing skills and the experience that I’ve gained throughout my short pro career will see me through. I expect to have a punch-perfect performance. I believe that he will bring out the very best in me.
“Timing is everything. I believe this is my era. I have arrived at my destination at the right time and I’m loving the journey. To fight your mandatory challenger on one of the biggest cards in British boxing this year is brilliant because it showcases my skills around the world.”
Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs) took a 112-pound world title by unanimous decision from Nicaragua’s Cristofer Rosalesin London in December and made his first defense, also in London, by unanimous decision against Spain’s Angel Morenoon March 23.
“I can’t wait to challenge for the WBC flyweight world title in London,” Martinez said. “I’ll be taking that famous green-and-gold belt back to Mexico with me. I have already knocked out one Brit and on August 31 I will make it two.”
The card also will include a heavyweight fight between contenderHughie Furyand former secondary titlist Alexander Povetkin, a bout that Hearn announced Wednesday.
The 28-year-old Dominican boxer is set to face junior bantamweight world titleholder Khalid Yafai in a mandatory challenge bout after their camps made a deal for the fight.
The agreement came on Tuesday, just before the bout was scheduled to be put up for a purse bid at the WBAoffices in Panama City.
There’s no set date for the fight yet, but Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn told ESPN that he might place it on the undercard of unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua‘s defense against Jarrell “Big Baby” Milleron June 1 at Madison Square Gardenin New York.
Hearn said if the fight is not on the Joshua-Miller card it would likely be scheduled for another date in June in the United Kingdom.
Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs), 29, of England, has made four title defenses, most recently a unanimous decision over Israel Gonzalezon November 24 in Monte Carlo.
Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KOs), 28, of the Dominican Republic, hasn’t lost since a four-rounder in 2011, but he also has not faced top opposition.