Monday, October 02, 2023  |


Gonzalez relishes pound-for-pound king status, Viloria challenge

Fighters Network

NEW YORK CITY – Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez walked through the lobby of the Affinia Hotel in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, virtually unnoticed.

It wasn’t until a member of his entourage introduced him to a pair of tourists sitting nearby did he garner any attention.

“This is the No. 1 boxer in the world,” the member of Gonzalez’s team said.

The tourists perked up and posed for a picture with the undefeated 5-3 flyweight.

Gonzalez moved on, seemingly satisfied for the moment.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr. announcing his retirement last month, Gonzalez has risen to the top of most pound-for-pound lists, including The Ring’s.

While some may shun the spotlight, Gonzalez (43-0, 37 knockouts) seems to relish it as the scene at the hotel illustrated.

A brilliant performance on HBO in May in which he knocked out Edgar Sosa in two rounds reminded folks of his next-level abilities.

Another scintillating effort on Saturday against former two-division world champion Brian Viloria (36-4, 22 knockouts) under Gennady Golovkin’s middleweight unification match with David Lemieux will surely reinforce the idea that he deserves to be the pound-for-pound best.

Gonzalez, 28, believes it was only a matter of time until he was anointed the top fighter in the world.

“I believe it was going to be in any case after the fight (on Saturday) so the fact that it came right now- it’s been a big motivation in my life,” Gonzalez said through a translator following media workouts on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, where the card will take place on HBO pay-per-view.

Gonzalez, who was mentored by the late Nicaraguan boxing legend Alexis Arguello. said he didn’t feel any pressure to live up to the designation of the sport’s best.

“No, I feel motivated, happy,” said the WBC flyweight champion. “We’re coming in the best condition ever to do our job and to win the fight.”

Viloria, a former 2000 U.S. Olympian, praised Gonzalez for scaling the pound-for-pound lists, saying it was a well-deserved honor.

At the same time, Viloria, 34, said that Gonzalez hasn’t faced the opposition that he’s seen over his 14-year professional career.

“I don’t think he’s been tested the way I’ve been tested,” said Viloria, who will be making his HBO debut on Saturday. “If you compare the types of schedules with his- I think I’ve had the more grueling, more demanding type of fights. I think I’ve been tested more in different scenarios, different situations. I’m not taking anything away from him but I think if you compare both records, I think I’ve gone through the tougher opposition.”

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Viloria is looking forward to fighting on the biggest stage of his career on Saturday.

“It’s the motivation for me because I know I can beat a guy like that,” Viloria said. “I don’t think he’s ever faced a guy like me, the experience I have, both amateur and professionally- I’m just cultivating all that for Saturday. I’m using every weapon that I have in my quiver.”

Gonzalez dismissed Viloria’s claim he has the better resume, saying he’s never faced a fighter like him and that all that’s taken place previously is just prologue.

“Today he is going to fight with me,” said Gonzalez, who grew up amidst humble surroundings, using a suspended milk carton from a guava tree as a heavy bag when he was eight under the tutelage of his father in Nicaragua. “All the fights are difficult and a lot of things are going to change. I don’t think he’s faced someone like me.”