One week after the heavyweight division restored its king, Roman ‘ Chocolatito’ Gonzalez hopes to reclaim his place atop the lower weight division empire.
The former four-division titlist and one-time pound-for-pound king enters his first title fight in nearly 30 months as he faces England’s Khalid Yafai (26-0, 15KOs). Their junior bantamweight clash serves in supporting capacity to a loaded DAZN-streamed card this Saturday from The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to fight for a world title, especially on such a terrific show with so many good fights,” Gonzalez (48-2, 40KOs) told BoxingScene.com. “I feel really good going into the fight.”
Gonzalez had so much more than random alphabet belts for most of past ten years, where he went 24-2 (20KOs and claimed three divisional titles while wrapping up his strawweight reign. His assault on the best the lower weight divisions had to offer led to the diminutive star soaring to pound-for-pound supremacy in the wake of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement in 2015.
His fall from grace was met with resistance, having dropped a highly questionable 12-round decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisa in March 2017 to concede his junior bantamweight title. Their September 2017 rematch produced a far more emphatic result, as Gonzalez was knocked out cold in four rounds.
Just two fights have followed along with lengthy ring breaks in between, going a year between fights before knocking out Moises Fuentes in the 5th round of their September 2018 clash. More than 15 months later came his most recent win, a two-round stoppage of Diomel Diocos last December in Yokohama, Japan.
With that comes his quickest turnaround between fights in nearly six years, against his toughest opponent since his repeat loss to Sor Rungvisai. Yafai attempts the sixth defense of the title he claimed in December 2016, back when Gonzalez was still the division’s—and sport’s—ruler.
“I needed the long break from the ring before returning recharged,” insists Gonzalez. “That fighting hunger is back, I’m anxious to put another world title around my waist.
“We’ve trained very hard to take back what was once ours.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox