Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez Defeats Kal Yafai to Win Junior Bantamweight World Title

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 GarciaJessie Vargas card on Saturday night at The Ford Center at The Star, the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys.

Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

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. [AkihikoHonda, [of Teiken Promotions],Eddie Hearn and DAZN. They gave me the opportunity to once again become a world champion.”

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez to Fight for Possible Fifth World Title

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.

Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

The fight will be on the card headlined by the previously announced Mikey GarciaJessie 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.

Vargas to Defend His Title Against Antonio DeMarco in Macau, China

Jessie Vargas is preparing to make an Asian invasion in the fight to keep his belt…

The 25-year-old Mexican-American Junior welterweight boxer will defend his title for the second time when he fights former lightweight titleholder Antonio DeMarco on November 22 in Macau, China.

Jesse Vargas

The fight will open the televised portion of the HBO PPV card headlined by welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) defending against Chris Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macao.

Vargas will be making the second defense of his secondary title — Danny Garcia is the champion — and will be facing his third consecutive left-hander.

Vargas claimed the belt by winning a slightly controversial decision against Khabib Allakhverdiev of Russia on April 12 on the undercard of Pacquiao’s rematch with Timothy Bradley Jr. Vargas made his initial defense on August 2, outpointing another Russian southpaw, then-undefeated Anton Novikov, in an exciting fight.

Now Vargas (25-0, 9 Kos) has DeMarco (31-3-1, 23 Kos) of Mexico, to deal with.

“My opponent Antonio Demarco is a tough, rugged fighter who comes to fight,” Vargas said. “I know this will be a fight that fans throughout the world will enjoy. This is very exciting for our team to be part of an event of this magnitude. I plan on bringing my world title belt back to Las Vegas.”

Since getting knocked out in the eighth round and losing his lightweight world title to Adrien Broner in November 2012, DeMarco has won three fights in a row, all as a welterweight.

He is coming off a lopsided 10-round unanimous decision against Lanardo Tyner on August 23, a fight in which DeMarco got knocked down in the first round but dominated the rest of the way.