Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, recognized by many as the #1 Pound 4 Pound fighter in the world, will make his second appearance at super flyweight when he faces Srisaket Sor Rungvisai March 18 on the Golovkin-Jacobs undercard. Competing now in his fourth weight class, the talk around Gonzalez centers on when and if we’ll see him tangle with the division’s most fearsome puncher, Naoya Inoue.
But before we salivate further on that potential superfight, Gonzalez faces a serious danger to his undefeated record in Rungvisai, who’s spent the majority of his career at super flyweight and boosts an 83% knockout ratio. Below, we look at three reasons why Gonzalez must not take the Thai slugger lightly and improve on his last outing against Carlos Cuadras.
1. DURABLE AND RELENTLESS: Outside of being thrown to the wolves early on and losing his first two fights by KO (one to future champion Akira Yaegashi), Rungvisai has been one of the most durable fighters at super flyweight. As an aggressive, seek n’ destroy southpaw, he prides himself on taking his opponent’s best shots before breaking them down on the ropes with clubbing left hands.
By virtue of his amazing versatility on offense, Gonzalez is usually able to force his opponents to give ground. In Rungvisai, Gonzalez has a foe that will welcome the risk of exchanging due to the former’s chin and power. Don’t be surprised if Gonzalez is forced to create off the backfoot much like Cuadras had to in their 2014 bout.
2. A WEIGHT CLIMB TOO HIGH: Gonzalez made history last September in becoming the first Nicaraguan fighter to win a title in his fourth weight class by defeating Cuadras via unanimous decision. It was a remarkable achievement that came with a high price — Gonzalez took heavy blows in the late rounds and had to persevere through swollen eyes to get the victory. It was the highest amount of punishment we’ve seen Gonzalez take in his career.
Unlike at lower weight classes, Gonzalez’s best punches weren’t enough to finish off Cuadras and left Chocolatito exhausted in the later rounds. The toll of going to war with a naturally larger man had Gonzalez looking weary despite facing a fighter who mostly fights off the backfoot.
With Rungvisai, the roles will be reversed in the bigger man hunting Gonzalez.
“I respect Roman Gonzalez,” says Rungvisai. “He is a legend. He has done great things for boxing, especially by showing the world how talented and exciting smaller weight fighters can be. I am happy for Nicaragua to have such a great hero. However, super flyweight is my weight. And the WBC Super Flyweight World title belt is my belt.
I will do whatever it takes to win my belt back, and I am confident I can do it. I was able to hurt Carlos Cuadras in the way that Gonzalez could not. Cuadras did not hurt me when we fought but he hurt Gonzalez throughout their fight last year. I am confident I can beat Roman Gonzalez. And the fight will not go twelve rounds.”
3. LOOKING AHEAD AND NOT OVER THE HORIZON: At first glance, it might sound crazy to suggest that Gonzalez might have peaked or reached the end of his prime at 29 years old. But smaller fighters (flyweights and lower) usually don’t continue competing at a high level past their early 30s. The main reason for that is due to less politics and having to face elite competition early. Both of Gonzalez’s 2016 fights, against McWilliams Arroyo and Cuadras, were taxing fights that went the distance. The last time Gonzalez went the distance in back to back fights? 2009.
That brings us to our final point. Having put in work for over 10 year to amass a 46-0 record and get on HBO, Gonzalez is looking to maximize his earnings for his remaining years. He’s on record as wanting a cool $1 million to rematch Juan Francisco Estrada. There’s the Cuadras rematch in the pipeline, and of course the “Monster Fight” against Inoue. Those three names are more known and lucrative than Rungvisai’s. But if Gonzalez has not used these last six months to improve his defense and stamina, Rungvisai has the ability to hand him his first defeat.
Roman Gonzalez vs. Srisket Sor Rungvisai will air on the March 18 HBO pay-per-view undercard of Gennady Golokin vs. Danny Jacobs. The fight will be for Gonzalez’s WBC super flyweight title.