Juan Francisco Estrada to Face Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in Trilogy Bout in December

Juan Francisco Estrada is preparing for a triology…

The 32-year-old Mexican professional boxer is expected to meet Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez on December 3 in a trilogy bout for the junior bantamweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing has announced.

Juan Francisco EstradaNo location for the fight was revealed.

This is the third time the third fight between Estrada and Gonzalez has been scheduled. The future Hall of Famers were set to square off in October 2021 before Gonzalez tested positive for COVID-19. A March bout was postponed after Estrada contracted the coronavirus.

Estrada returned Saturday to his native Mexico with a tougher-than-expected decision victory over Argi Cortes to retain the WBC franchise championship at 115 pounds. Now, Estrada heads into the rubber match with Gonzalez, a rivalry that began 10 years ago.

Gonzalez (51-3, 41 KOs) scored a unanimous-decision victory over Estrada in 2012 to retain a 108-pound title. Estrada (43-3, 28 KOs) exacted a measure of revenge in the March 2021 rematch at 115 pounds, but the split-decision win was marred by controversy. They combined for 2,529 punches in the return bout that was ESPN’s runner-up for fight of the year.

“When you talk about great rivalries over the years, this is right up there,” Hearn told ESPN last year. “Fight 1 was a classic, and Fight 2 was probably the best I have ever seen live. The decider will be historic.”

After Estrada withdrew from the rematch, Gonzalez went on to defeat 112-pound champion Julio Cesar Martinez in March in yet another master-class performance for the 35-year-old Nicaraguan.

Estrada, who relinquished his WBA title last month, is ESPN’s No. 1 junior bantamweight. Gonzalez, who was long recognized as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, is No. 2.

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez to Defend WBC Title Against Israel Gonzalez in September

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez‘s breakout 2022 campaign continues…

The 22-year-old Mexican American professional boxer will defend his WBC super flyweight versus Israel Gonzalez in the chief support bout to Canelo AlvarezGennadiy Golovkin 3 on September 17 in Las Vegas, Matchroom Boxing announced Monday.

Jesse "Bam" RodriguezRodriguez (16-0 11 KOs) scored the biggest win of his budding career last month with an eight-round TKO of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Rungvisai owns wins over future Hall of Famers Roman Gonzalez (“Chocolatito“) and Juan Francisco Estrada, and Bam Rodriguez was able to pick him apart at 22 years old in a star-making performance.

The victory followed a decision win over Carlos Cuadras in February when Rodriguez, who fights out of San Antonio, captured the WBC title. (Estrada is the franchise champion.)

“Having the chance to fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend as the co-main to Canelo-GGG is truly special, and I plan on putting on another spectacular performance and continuing to build my legacy,” said Rodriguez, ESPN‘s No. 3 junior bantamweight. “Each fight now is more important than the last. It’s not about just winning; it’s how you win. That’s mine and my coach Robert Garcia‘s job now; to look sensational each and every time we step in the ring and continue to show the world that I am one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.”

Gonzalez, who fights out of Mexico, has lost in each of his world title challenges. He was stopped by Jerwin Ancajas in 2018 and outpointed by Kal Yafai later that year. Most recently, Gonzalez (28-4-1 11 KOs) dropped a unanimous decision to Chocolatito in 2020.

“I want to thank the champ Jesse Rodriguez for the opportunity,” said Gonzalez, 25. “I know I’ll take full advantage of this and make my dream come true of becoming a world champion.”

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez Defeats Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to Retain WBC Junior Bantamweight Title

Jesse Bam Rodriguez is keeping his title…

Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez“This is the youngest champ in boxing and he already might be a pound-for-pound great,” said Rodriguez’s promoter, Eddie Hearn. “He’s here for legacy; he’s here to be remembered.”

It was a dazzling display from Rodriguez, who headlined in his hometown for the first time. He used an excellent southpaw jab, beautiful footwork and plenty of angles to keep Rungvisai off-rhythm and at the end of his power shots.

Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43 KOs) owns victories over a pair of future Hall of Famers in their primes — Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada — so it was particularly impressive the way Rodriguez was able to pick off his heavy shots and win every round in dominant fashion.

The plodding 35-year-old from Thailand needs to set his feet to deliver his power shots, but Rodriguez never allowed him to do so. He presented a moving target, and on the rare occasion Rungvisai did close distance, “Bam” turned him around.

“In the third round I felt his power wasn’t the same,” said Rodriguez, who entered the fight rated No. 5 by ESPN at 115 pounds. ” … That’s when I decided to take over. … Having Robert Garcia in my corner is a huge advantage.”

Rodriguez, whose brother Joshua Franco holds a secondary title at 115 pounds, said he could campaign at 112 pounds before returning to the weight class.

“He’s a very underrated fighter and it’s a matter of time until he gets his shot,” Rodriguez said of Franco, who is ESPN’s No. 6 junior bantamweight.

Rungvisai, ESPN’s No. 3 boxer at 115 pounds, lost for just the second time since a 2014 technical decision defeat to Carlos Cuadras. And it was Cuadras whom Rodriguez defeated in February to announce his arrival and pick up his first world title, though Estrada remains the WBC’s franchise champion in the weight class.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez Defeats Julio Cesar Martinez By Unanimous Decision

Roman Gonzalez is celebrating a big win…

The 34-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, known by his nickname “Chocolatito“,  schooled Julio Cesar Martinez and once again demonstrated why he’s a future first-ballot Hall of Famer with a unanimous-decision victory over the weekend in San Diego.

Roman "Chocolatito" GonzalezGonzalez was “very surprised” that Martinez made it to the final bell after absorbing a brutal beating, and the scores (118-110, 117-111 and 116-112) belied how truly one-sided the contest was.

“My corner told me not to give him any rounds,” Gonzalez, ESPN‘s No. 2 115-pound boxer, said in Spanish via a translator. “He was very courageous. He took a lot of punishment.”

The punishment was inflicted by combinations delivered in classic “Chocolatito” fashion: with precision and impeccable technique. The beauty of Gonzalez’s game is the way he flows offense and defense. Even as he unloaded 1,076 punches, Gonzalez was able to fend off Martinez’s reckless attack with a high guard tightly wrapped around his ears.

Gonzalez landed 374 punches, more than double Martinez, who landed 182 of 713.

Gonzalez landed 58 of 129 punches in the final round, displaying the sort of elite condition that is a hallmark of his game.

Martinez, fighting out of Mexico City, held his hands low, providing an easy target for Gonzalez’s well-placed shots. The victory was Gonzalez’s 21st against a boxer from Mexico, the lone loss a highly controversial decision defeat to rival Juan Francisco Estrada in a 115-pound title unification last March. They were set to meet a third time on Saturday, but Estrada withdrew after he tested positive for COVID-19. Gonzalez defeated Estrada in a 108-pound title fight in their first fight in 2012.

Martinez, ESPN’s No. 1 112-pounder, stepped in for his countryman on six weeks’ notice and agreed to move up one weight class to 115 pounds. However, he was overweight Friday at 116.4 pounds. The fight proceeded after Martinez weighed 122.6 pounds Saturday, within the 126.5-pound rehydrating limit governed by the California commission (10% of contracted weight).

Martinez was also fined 20% of his $250,000 purse, with $25,000 paid to Gonzalez and the other half to the commission.

“He looked too small, he looked too inexperienced,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “He’ll go back to flyweight.”

At 112 pounds, Martinez could be matched with fellow champion Sunny Edwards in a title unification bout.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, has plenty of options to sort through with Hearn. The trilogy battle with Estrada remains a compelling matchup for supremacy at 115 pounds.

“Everyone knows that the last fight I had with ‘Gallo’ Estrada, I won,” Gonzalez said.

Another tantalizing trilogy possibility: a meeting with Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who owns a controversial decision victory over Gonzalez but also a devastating fourth-round knockout that left many wondering if “Chocolatito” would ever return to form.

Surprisingly, Gonzalez didn’t just return to the pound-for-pound list but clearly remains better than ever. Even against a highly regarded 27-year-old power puncher, Gonzalez was in total control from bell to bell in a masterclass performance that adds to his Hall of Fame legacy.

Age is particularly unforgiving to smaller boxers who rely on speed and reflexes and absorb more damage than bigger boxers, but Gonzalez has never been held back by conventional wisdom.

“‘Chocolatito’ seems to be getting better and better, that was just a sublime performance tonight,” Hearn said. “You saw the difference between a very good world champion and a pound-for-pound legend.”

Joshua Franco Defeats Andrew Moloney to Retain Secondary WBA Title

Joshua Franco is keeping his title…

The 25-year-old Latino boxer has settled the score with Andrew Moloney, capping a rivalry that climaxed with a controversial finish in November and ended at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday with a decisive victory in the ESPN main event.

Joshua Franco

Franco, nicknamed “El Profesor,” retained his secondary WBA title at 115 pounds with a unanimous decision over Moloney. All three judges scored the fight 116-112.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is the recognized champion at junior bantamweight.

Earlier this week, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza announced his intentions to clean up the plentiful secondary titles that have muddied the championship picture. But with the win, Franco figures to earn a shot at one of the “big four” at 115 pounds in the near future, a stacked division headlined by Juan Francisco Estrada, Gonzalez, Kazuto Ioka and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

“I see bigger fights. I see Chocolatito, Gallo Estrada, Ioka,” said Franco, ESPN’s No. 6 boxer at 115 pounds. “For sure, this win puts me top five, on the same list as the other champions. I needed this fight to prove myself.”

Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) consistently beat Moloney to the punch and landed the cleaner, harder shots. The bout featured plenty of inside fighting, but it was always Franco who was able to push Moloney back in those exchanges.

Despite being just 25 years old, Franco has now been a part of two boxing trilogies. He fought Oscar Negrete three consecutive times in 2018 and 2019, with a win sandwiched between two draws. Saturday’s victory over Moloney came in a third meeting.

Franco scored a unanimous decision win over Moloney (ESPN’s No. 7 115-pounder) in June 2020, when an 11th-round knockdown was the difference-maker.

In the November rematch, Moloney closed Franco’s right eye before the ringside doctor stopped the fight in Round 2.

Believing he had just exacted revenge, Moloney (21-2, 14 KOs) jumped onto the turnbuckle to celebrate. Instead, he was met by the feeling he was robbed of his biggest victory to date. Referee Russell Mora curiously ruled that the swelling was the result of an accidental clash of heads, and the fight was deemed a no-contest even after instant replay was consulted for more than 25 minutes. In reality, it was Moloney’s punches — 51 connected in just two rounds. (Franco landed 18.)

“That eye was closed by 50 jabs,” Moloney said in November. “That’s why his eye is shut — not the head-butt. There’s no head-butt. I can’t believe they took this away from me. I’ve trained my ass off for the last five months, been away from my family, and they just take it away from me. I can’t believe they didn’t give it to me. That’s why they have instant replay working right now.”

This time, instant replay did its job. Referee Jack Reiss called a knockdown in Saturday’s Round 7 after Franco fell to the canvas, but after the sequence was reviewed, the ruling was reversed.

“The call wasn’t right; I knew that I slipped,” Franco said. “When he told me they’d go to replay, I said, ‘OK, they’ll get it right.'”

The first third of Saturday’s fight was difficult to score, with tons of inside fighting. But like in the first meeting, Franco took over as the fight pushed on. His jab was the key this time around, setting up 127 power punches landed to Moloney’s 73.

“I had to switch it up on him,” said Franco, who is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya. “He thought I was going to put pressure on him the whole time. That wasn’t working, so I had to switch it up and go to my boxing skills.

“I had fun with my rhythm, with my jab, my feet. I’m comfortable in there, and that’s what I did.”

WBC Announces Juan Francisco Estrada & Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez Trilogy Fight

It’s a trilogy for Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.

The WBC has announced a four-fighter 115-pound tournament to crown a true junior bantamweight champ, which includes a trilogy fight against the 30-year-old Mexican junior bantamweight champion and the 33-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer.

Juan Francisco Estrada x Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

The card will also include a bout between former champions Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras. The winners will face each other after.

For this to happen, the WBC elevated Estrada as its “franchise” champion and chose to make Rungvisai vs. Cuadras 2 for the now vacant regular 115-pound title. Estrada is the third WBC “franchise” champion (Canelo Alvarez at middleweight and Teofimo Lopez at lightweight are the others).

The request for a third battle between Estrada and Gonzalez came naturally after both were involved in a great rematch on March 13 that Estrada won in a close and controversial decision to unify the WBC and WBA world titles.

Estrada was supposed to face his mandatory challenger, Sor Rungvisai, who defeated Ekkawit Songnui by third-round TKO, also on March 13. However, the fight that generated the most interest was Estrada-Gonzalez 3 and therefore Matchroom Boxing, who promoted the rematch, began to work with the WBC to finalize the tournament.

Estrada and Gonzalez are 1-1 in their series. Rungvisai and Cuadras will meet a second time after Cuadras took the WBC junior bantamweight title from Sor Rungvisai in a technical decision victory seven years ago in 2014.

Matchroom has not announced yet when the third battle could take place and if the two title fights would be in the same card.

Juan Francisco Estrada Edges Past Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez to Win WBA, WBC and The Ring Magazine Junior Bantamweight Titles

Juan Francisco Estrada has proved that revenge is a dish best served cold.

The 30-year-old Mexican professional boxer edged past Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez by split decision in an extremely close fight at Dallas’ American Airlines Center on Saturday to win the WBA, the WBC and The Ring magazine junior bantamweight titles.

Juan Francisco Estrada x Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

The victory comes eight years after Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs) and Gonzalez’s first action-packed bout, which was won by Gonzalez (50-3, 41 KOs).

This bout could’ve gone either way. The two combined for 2,529 punches — a junior bantamweight record — and landed 705, according to CompuBox. They combined for 2,133 punches in their first bout.

The scorecards Saturday night read 115-113 Gonzalez, 117-111 Estrada and 115-113 Estrada. The 117-111 score was shockingly wide, but the two 115-113 scores were representative of a fight with two boxers putting on a nonstop show.

Immediately afterward, sensing there was unfinished business with their rivalry split at 1-1, Estrada called for a trilogy fight to settle it all.

“I think I did enough to win. Chocolatito is a great fighter, and I think he deserves a trilogy,” Estrada said on the DAZN broadcast. “I knew it was a close fight. I didn’t know if I was up or down, but I knew I had to close out the fight in the last two rounds.”

Gonzalez was gracious and emotional in defeat, saying, “Whatever happened, happened, but I gave it a great fight.” The four-division champion said the result was what “God wanted” and that he would welcome a third bout with Estrada.

“It was a better fight than the first one,” Estrada said. “I felt strong, and I felt like I won. In the last round, I gave it all. It was a great round.”

Estrada’s win could set in motion the conclusion of a set of trilogies. Estrada noted after the fight that his mandatory challenger is Srisaket Sor Rungvisai — a man he also has split two bouts with over the past few years. Rungvisai won the first bout by majority decision in February 2018, with Estrada winning the rematch by unanimous decision in April 2019.

Rungvisai, who also has two wins over Gonzalez, stepped aside to let Estrada-Gonzalez 2 happen. Now, Rungvisai will likely want his shot at settling the trilogy fight with Estrada.

Gonzalez, who despite starting a bit slow was the aggressor for much of the fight, had the advantage over Estrada in every CompuBox category Saturday night except body punching (89-31 Estrada). The 90 power punches landed in Round 12 (51 by Gonzalez, 39 by Estrada) is a single-round junior bantamweight record, per CompuBox.

The hope is that Part 3 of this must-see thriller happens far sooner than the eight-year wait for Part 2.

Juan Francisco Estrada Defeats Carlos Cuadras in 11th-round TKO

Juan Francisco Estrada is one step closer to a rematch…

The 30-year-old Mexican professional boxer and WBC junior flyweight world titleholder has done his part to get a rematch with Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who beat him in 2012, by defeating Carlos Cuadras in an 11th-round TKO Friday night at the TV Azteca Studio in Mexico City.

Juan Francisco Estrada

But it didn’t come easy, as Estrada had to recover from an early knockdown before stopping Cuadras late in the fight.

Estrada-Cuadras was itself a rematch of a 2017 bout that saw Estrada defeat Cuadras by a single point on all three of the judges’ cards in a 12-round fight, with the difference being a knockdown by Estrada in the 10th round.

On Friday, Estrada (40-3, 28 KOs) hit the deck in the third round when he was clipped by a right uppercut-left hook combination from Cuadras (40-4, 27 KOs). But Estrada was able to get up and control the next several rounds with precise punching, accuracy and power.

Cuadras had his moments, but he simply couldn’t match the power of Estrada’s thumping shots to the body. At times you could see Estrada hurting Cuadras with attacks to the body. To his credit, though, Cuadras mustered up enough offense to take Round 10 on the scorecards.

But at the beginning of the 11th, a three-punch combination by Estrada sent Cuadras crumbling to the floor. While it was obvious that he was on his last legs, Cuadras was able to continue and attempted to trade punches with Estrada again, and Estrada responded by hitting Cuadras again with a straight right hand that knocked Cuadras down for the second time in the round. It looked as if the fight was over, but somehow Cuadras got back to his feet once more, and showed incredible courage in letting his hands go and exchanging blows with Estrada.

Cuadras landed a few of his punches, but they simply lacked the steam and velocity in response to what was coming back his way. Finally, a right hand that snapped Cuadras’ head back forced the referee to stopped the fight at 2:22 of Round 11.

And with that, Estrada looks forward to a long-awaited rematch with Gonzalez.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez Outlasts Israel Gonzalez to Keep WBA Junior Bantamweight World Title

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is still the champion…

The 33-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer retained his WBA junior bantamweight world title by wearing down Israel Gonzalez in 12 fast-paced rounds full of action on Friday night on DAZN at the TV Azteca Studios in Mexico City.

Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

At the end of the fight, all three judges scored the fight for Chocolatito: 118-110, 116-112 and 117-111.

It was a remarkable pace set forth by Chocolatito, against an opponent nine years his junior.

Chocolatito was able to figure out the upper body movement of Gonzalez (25-4, 11 KOs) in the early rounds by landing right hands to the body, and then combining his attack with an array of left hooks, uppercuts from both sides and right hands over the top.

While Israel was the taller fighter, Roman (50-2, 41 KOs) was able to close the gap and send his opponent to the ropes, where Roman would landed effective combinations to the body and head.

Israel had some spurts of effectiveness, as he had the faster hands, but for the most part, he was on the receiving end of an unrelenting offensive attack that he simply couldn’t fend off.

With the victory, Chocolatito moved one step closer to an expected rematch with Estrada, whom he defeated in 2012 in a memorable battle.

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.”