Today, a rematch of two of the greatest small men in modern warfare happens. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-2, 41KOS) vs. Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28KOs) with the WBC and WBA super flyweight belts on the line.
It doesn’t get better than this. Excuse me, while I put on a bib.
CHOCOLATITO. Circa 2016, he was on top of most pound-for-pound lists. Undefeated and fast —earning a reputation as one of the greatest fighters of smaller stature since Ricardo Lopez.
And then he ran into a roadblock in Thai fighter Wisaksil Wangek twice. The first fight was close, but he lost most of the mystique that surrounded him. In the rematch, he was stopped, and we thought we had seen the last of “Chocolatito.”
But like the bogeyman in the nightmares of his rivals, lo and behold he has returned and since then has racked up four consecutive wins, the three via stoppage.
Does he still have what it takes?
EL GALLO. A legend in his own right, Estrada only has three blemishes on his credentials. One inflicted early in his career, one by Gonzalez and one also by their common nemesis, Wisaksil Wangek.
He currently holds the WBC super-flyweight diadem and three of his last four bouts have been via the abbreviated route. If he redeems himself against Gonzalez and unifies the belts, “El Gallo” will have achieved almost every goal in his storied career.
MY TAKE. The first fight is an all-action, high-impact donnybrook. Gonzalez imposes himself in the first half, landing vicious hooks and bringing the fight to Estrada.
“El Gallo” comes back strong in the second half and causes damage, particularly in the championship rounds. Style-wise, Gonzalez has the edge in his no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners approach. Plus, Gonzalez always dictates the pace of the fight which is frenetic. Estrada is more tactical and likes to look for angles to punish his opponents.
But against Gonzalez, he seems almost helpless in the face of the all-out assault and is forced to fight defensively. Also, the winner always has the psychological edge and so all these factors sway in favor of Gonzalez.
However, if there is any fighter between the two who can fight better and has room for improvement, it will have to be Estrada. I think he can adopt a better strategy and find a way to neutralize Gonzalez. This will be another duke-out for sure and I won’t be surprised if the verdict is controversial. But I think Estrada can do better this time around.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my “brotha from anotha motha”— Edgar “Edge” Genosa, who turned a milestone. Happy 50th birthday, my dear friend. Cheers!