Juan Francisco Estrada-Roman Gonzalez II More Than Lives Up to the Hype
On November 17, 2012, Roman Gonzalez (50-3, 41 KOs) stepped into the ring to defend his then WBA World Junior Flyweight title against Juan Francisco Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs). In what turned out to be one of the fights of that year, Gonzalez won by unanimous decision.
Following that fantastic bout, both men went on to achieve even greater heights. Ironically, each man moved up in weight to win world titles in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions. Estrada defeated Brian Viloria to win the unified WBA/WBO World Flyweight title in April of 2013. He made five successful world title defenses before moving up to 115-pounds.
Estrada lost his first opportunity to win the super flyweight belt. He was on the tail end of a majority decision defeat to then WBC world champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in February 2018. The man nicknamed “Gallo” rebounded to defeat Rungvisai to win the WBC 115-pound title in April 2019. Estrada has subsequently gone on to make two defenses of that title.
Following his victory over Estrada, Gonzalez went on to achieve unparalleled success for a smaller-weight fighter. In September of 2014, he stopped Akira Yaegashi in nine rounds to win the WBC World Flyweight title. After five successful title defenses, the fighter from Nicaragua moved up in weight to seek more glory. He defeated Carlos Cuadras to win the WBC World Super Flyweight title in September 2016.
At this point, he had hailed as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. Then came 2017, which was a disaster of a year. Gonzalez lost to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in the first defense of the WBC 115-pound belt in March 2017. In September of that year, Sor Rungvisai stopped him in a rematch, flattening him in four rounds.
After a relatively quiet 2018 and 2019. The man universally known as “Chocolatito” took the bulk of that time off to heal his mind, body, and spirit. But 2020 saw him rise like a phoenix. Kal Yafai agreed to defend the WBA ‘Super’ World Super Flyweight title against Gonzalez in February of that year. The Nicaraguan legend put on an inspired performance. He dominated Yafai on the way to a ninth-round TKO to become a world champion once again. That followed with a successful title defense against Israel Gonzalez in October of 2020. Having won world titles in four different weight classes, he is a guaranteed future Hall of Famer.
But despite their achievements, fans have clamored for Estrada and Gonzalez to fight a rematch. Well, to the delight of all, it finally happened at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. With Estrada being the current WBC champ and Gonzalez holding the WBA title, it is also a unification bout.
Two elite fighters putting their belts on the line in what guaranteed to be an action-packed bout. It does not get any better than this.
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
Normally, Estrada fights as a skilled craftsman. On this occasion, he opened the fight on the attack. He set the pace as the aggressive boxer-puncher. He looked to be the physically larger man in the ring. Gonzalez usually burns slow early, then slowly builds to a fighting inferno. So, it was no surprise that he got off to a bit of a slow start.
“Chocolatito” started to turn up the heat in round two. He fought at a faster pace, attacking with jabs, and power-punches. One of his favorite combinations is a lead-right to the head followed by either a left hook or uppercut to the body. He started to crank with that combination.
However, one of Estrada’s best attributes is his ability to counter. Whenever Gonzalez would bore in, the WBC champ was right there responding with right hands and left hooks. Neither man was holding back. This rematch was beginning to live up to the hype.
Once Gonzalez gets going, he forces you to fight his fight. This started to be the case in round four. What makes him so effective is how he uses his body to get in position to land a punch. It is one of the tactics he uses to cut off the ring. Then once inside, he shifts his body to create angles to land power shots. At this point, his combinations started to flow.
Estrada lost their first fight because he got outworked. It was looking to be that case again as the fight went into the middle rounds. While effective in spots, he was on the receiving end of countless punches.
Tide started to turn in round six. Estrada started to zone and time Gonzalez. He also started to invest in bodywork, pounding with hooks and uppercuts. Fighting in more of a tight circle, he started to chin-check with harder and more precise shots.
Gonzalez was being put on the back foot. He was not fighting with the same energy that he displayed in the early rounds. After eight rounds, Estrada looked to have seized the initiative.
Going into the tenth round, the fight was up for grabs. The championship rounds saw both men stand in the center of the ring exchanging shots. It was humbling watching these two warriors apply their trade. It became a true test of will.
In the end, it was Estrada who won by split decision (115-113 Gonzalez, 117-111 Estrada, 115-113 Estrada) to become the unified WBA ‘super’/WBC World Super Flyweight world champion.
This reporter personally scored the fight 115-113 for Gonzalez. It could have gone either way. The fight was that close. Even if you believe Estrada won, the 117-111 score in his favor was a stretch, to say the least.
By rule, Estrada is obligated WBC mandatory contender, former WBC world 115-pound champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. However, would anyone be upset if Estrada and Gonzalez go for a trilogy?
By: Michael Wilson Jr.