Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez said he wants a rematch with his flyweight nemesis Juan Francisco Estrada in what he thinks could be a super fight, but first he puts reputation on the line against Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria on the undercard of the Golovkin-Lemieux pay-per-view on October 17.
Chocolatito (43-0, 37 KO’s) is currently the WBC and Ring Magazine flyweight champion, and he was recently named #1 pound-for-pound by the Transitional Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB), rantsports.com, ESPN, as well as The Ring’s since the “retirement” of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Despite the recent accolades and desire to rematch his toughest opponent to date, Chocolatito said he is not looking past Viloria whom he respects like a champion.
“He (Viloria) is a tough opponent, and it will be a hard fight,” Gonzalez said. “I have my arsenal, and he has his arsenal and whoever is in the best physical condition on October 17 is going to win the fight.”
Top physical conditioning is expected from flyweights as well as high activity, speed and in the case of Gonzalez-Viloria, power. Viloria (36-4, 22 KO’s) is a 14-year veteran of the sport with thirteen title fights under his belt. He is a hard-nosed and battle-tested vet with impressive TKO victories over Giovani Segura and Hernan Marquez and even fought Chocolatito’s rival, Estrada, to a split decision loss in 2013.
The only knockout loss on Viloria’s record happened against Carlos Tamara in 2010, in a fight Viloria started out winning and dictating the pace. The tide of the fight changed after the ninth, heading into the championship rounds when Viloria ultimately was too tired to fend off the momentum Tamara built and succumbed to pressure with a minute left to go in the twelfth round.
Since that loss at 108 pounds, Viloria has moved up to flyweight and claims to be coming off of the best camp of his career at 34.
“I have never been this focused compared to any fight I have had in the past,” Viloria said. “This training camp is one of my best training camps, only because I know the type of challenge I am going to be facing on October 17. I am facing the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world – the best fighter in the world – and I do not want to leave any stone unturned going into this fight.”
Gonzalez is ranked number one for the same reason Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. was in the late 80’s and early 90’: consistency. He has been fighting the top dogs of each division from Yukata Niida at 105, to Estrada at 108 and Akira Yaegashi at 112 for his current title and has won handily in every case, the Estrada fight being his closest contest.
Gonzalez is fresh off a two-round demolition of Edgar Sosa in May, Sosa beat Viloria back in 2007 by majority decision. Although Gonzalez has beat the men Viloria lost to, boxing isn’t a sport where A+B always equals C. There are many cases in boxing history to cite examples: Ali beat Foreman in 1974, but he lost to Frazier and Norton, who Foreman destroyed easily. Similarly, Shane Mosley knocked out Antonio Margarito in 2008 but he struggled with Cotto, who was badly beaten by Margarito when they squared off.
So just because Gonzalez has defeated the likes of Sosa and Estrada, it does not guarantee a victory for him against the Hawaiian Punch who is confident that he has what others lacked when facing Chocolatito.
“I think styles make fights,” Viloria said. “Estrada does have a difficult style and strategy. Each fight is different, and I know this fight is going to be hard too, but I think I have what it takes to overcome a fighter like Roman Gonzalez. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past I think I fought the wrong fight when I lost to him (Estrada). I don’t think I was in as great shape as I am now and as mentally focused as I am now for this fight against Gonzalez.”
There is a lot of hype around Chocolatito now. Before he was flying low under the radar, and under the weight limit for popular fighters. Now he has soared to the height of attention in the boxing world, he is being hailed as the best on the planet, he’ll be fighting on an undercard to a pay-per-view, and he is expected to “steal the show” while delivering a crowd-pleasing performance of the highest caliber. Should he look anything less than sensational against Viloria, he may lose his place amongst the top of the mythical pound-for-pound rankings for some.
However, the flyweight phenome is not in awe of the expectations that accompany his new status. Instead, the humble Nicaraguan is simply flattered by the title and said it only makes his upcoming defense of his title and status “a lot more special.”
“I am very happy about being voted the No. 1 pound-for-pound,” Chocolatito said. “I would like to thank my team because I believe it is a team effort, and all of the work has paid off. It does not bring any pressure – it just brings motivation.”
Viloria sees this time as the perfect opportunity for him to upset Gonzalez and cement his legacy by beating a pound-for-pound champion. Viloria also mentioned that he has been studying Gonzalez “endlessly” and that he and his team are looking at “kinks” and “tendencies” they can exploit. Viloria is a big puncher in his right although he has fewer KO’s than Gonzalez, however through his work at camp Viloria expects his experience deliver an upset.
“You want to see certain tendencies that he (Gonzalez) has when he throws certain punches and if there are certain things he likes to do in certain situations and try to work your style against that and try to find the weaknesses,” Viloria said without getting into too much detail of his battle strategy. “Every fight is different and every fighter has a different strategy for each fight – sometimes you have to box and sometimes you have to change it up and slug it out. Try to link the tendencies to the mistakes and use that to neutralize him.”
Gonzalez almost faced Viloria before when he beat Estrada. It was his understanding that he would be fighting the winner of Viloria-Marquez, but the Hawaiian Punch chose to go the Estrada route and Gonzalez continued his path of destruction.
“That was the only time that Viloria’s name was mentioned as an opponent on my radar until this fight on October 17,” Gonzalez said.
Viloria is a solid fight for Gonzalez and has the power to pull off an upset. But if the 34-year-old can’t keep up with the pace set by the Nicaraguan Express than he’ll find out why he’s remained off the radar of Gonzalez and will be a catalyst for a highly anticipated rematch between Gonzalez and Estrada. Still Viloria is no push-over and neither he nor Gonzalez should be revered any less if neither man can take the other out of the allotted twelve round distance.