Boxing’s new pound-for-pound king

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Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

Professional boxing, from the standpoint of The Ring magazine, has a new pound-for-pound king following the retirement (hopefully, for good) of American Floyd Mayweather Jr. The new pound-for-pound king actually does not pack enough meat, but he owns a pair of fists that can topple condemned buildings.

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Roman “Chocolatito” (Little Chocolate) Gonzalez stands only 5’3” and weighs only 112 pounds, but he is the greatest fistic talent from Nicaragua since Alexis Arguello. Since turning pro in 2005, Gonzalez has amassed an unbeaten record of 43-0 with 37 knockouts. He has won world titles in the minimumweight (105 pounds), light flyweight (108 pounds) and flyweight divisions (112 pounds) and is finally in a position to make serious money after being hailed by The Ring as the new pound-for-pound king of boxing.

Unlike Mayweather Jr. who drew more yawns than cheers, Gonzalez is an all-action fighter. Gonzalez is a pressure fighter who judiciously stalks his foes and breaks them down with well-timed one-two combinations. He picks his punches well, offers a pro-active defense (great head movement that gives him just enough room to counter with a smashing right) and can stop foes with either hand. As of the last count, Gonzalez has stopped his last nine opponents and is looking to add another one on October 17, when he defends the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight diadem against former titleholder Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria.

Gonzalez, 28, comes from a family of boxers. His grandfather, father and uncles were all boxers. Gonzalez was introduced to the rudiments of the sport by his father, but his boxing idol was Arguello, who won world titles in the featherweight (126 pounds), super featherweight (130 pounds) and lightweight (135 pounds) in a sterling career that stretched from 1968 until 1995. It was Arguello who honed Gonzalez’s skills early in the latter’s career.

After compiling an 80-1 amateur record, Gonzalez turned pro in 2005 and won his first 16 fights by knockout before going the distance in January 2008 against Japanese Hiroshi Matsumoto. Four fights later, in September 2008, Gonzalez bamboozled Yutaka Niida in four rounds to win the World Boxing Association (WBA) minimumweight (105 pounds) championship.

Gonzalez has been a world champion in the last eight years, his reign spread in three weight classes. He has been hyperactive as a champion, fighting in Mexico and Japan and even squeezing in some non-title fights. The champ is a tireless workhorse who doesn’t even take a Christmas break when it comes to training. He makes it a point to spar around 200 rounds in preparation for a fight and starts his roadwork as early as 4:00 a.m.

Outside the ring, Gonzalez is a devout Christian and the father to two wonderful kids. He is very receptive to his fans and always makes it a point to tell them that it is God who should receive all the glory.

Make no mistake, though, Gonzalez is looking to write a glorious chapter in international boxing. In his last fight, May 2015, he finally received major exposure when he made his debut for HBO by way of a smashing second-round knockout of former world champion Edgar Sosa. Gonzalez is confident of yet another explosive performance when he meets Viloria (36-4, 22 knockouts), easily his toughest and most accomplished adversary to date. Viloria was a former Olympian and a world champion in the light flyweight and flyweight divisions.

Gonzalez is oozing with confidence, but offers nothing but respect for Viloria. The Viloria fight will mark Gonzalez’s first appearance as pound-for-pound king and the Nicaraguan is promising a fistic affair to remember. One thing about the new pound-for-pound king, you can take his word to the bank. It is as good as cash.

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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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