Roman Gonzalez’s future goals will please hardcore boxing fans
LOS ANGELES – Roman Gonzalez achieved the most success of his sensational 10-year pro career in 2015. The 28-year-old RING/WBC flyweight champ – already a national hero in his native Nicaragua and respected three-division beltholder in Japan – finally turned heads in the U.S. last year thanks to HBO and Gennady Golovkin.
Gonzalez (44-0, 37 knockouts) fought twice on the subscription cable network, stopping veteran former titleholders Edgar Sosa and Brian Viloria in the co-features to Golovkin’s knockouts of Willie Monroe Jr. and David Lemieux. The technically superb boxer-puncher wowed the American boxing media inside a packed Forum in Inglewood, California and a sold-out Madison Square Garden, climbing to the No. 1 spot in the pound-for-pound rankings of every credible boxing publication and sports site in the process.
Gonzalez will be paired with Golovkin again on April 23 at The Forum. Golovkin faces unheralded Dominic Wade in the main event of the HBO Championship Boxing doubleheader, but Gonzalez is taking on top-10 flyweight contender McWilliams Arroyo (16-2, 14 KOs), a 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian and former title challenger.
Gonzalez’s respect, fame and bank account have reached levels he probably never dreamed of but the humble champion still has goals he wants to achieve, goals that will make hardcore boxing fans very happy.
At the kick-off press conference for Golovkin-Wade at the Conga Room at L.A. LIVE on Tuesday, Gonzalez was asked when he would headline his own card.
“It all depends on HBO, Teiken and K2 Promotions,” Gonzalez said through manager Carlos Blandon, mentioning his U.S. network and co-promoters.
Tom Loeffler, executive director of K2, believes that WBO/WBA flyweight titleholder Juan Estrada is the dance partner to give Gonzalez his first major headliner in the U.S. The 25-year-old Mexican standout arguably gave Gonzalez the toughest fight of his career in decision loss in a 12-round junior flyweight war at the L.A. Sports Arena in November 2012. Loeffler thinks a rematch could sell out Stub Hub Center in Carson, California, or even The Forum, and he’s pushing the fight to HBO.
Gonzalez is very open to the return match.
“My biggest dream is to win all four titles at flyweight,” he said.
Blandon says Gonzalez (who admittedly walks around at 126 pounds between fights and looked a bit puffy in the face at Tuesday’s press conference) is also looking at the junior bantamweight (115-pound) division.
“His goal is to hold major titles at 112 pounds and 115 pounds simultaneously the way Floyd Mayweather held both the welterweight and junior middleweight titles,” said Blandon.
“I can still make flyweight but it’s my dream to hold titles at 115 pounds,” said Gonzalez. “I want to hold both. When I fight at 115 pounds depends on my rivals and who is willing to fight me.”
Nayoya Inoue, the 22-year-old Japanese phenom who won titles in two divisions within eight pro bouts, and unbeaten (34-0-1) Mexican stylist Carlos Cuadras are both junior bantamweight titleholders. Inoue’s promoter has talked about a potential clash with Gonzalez, and Cuadras is promoted by Teiken, so both showdowns are possible.
Hardcore fans are salivating over a potential rematch with Estrada, but Twitter boxing geeks would experience full-on “nerdgasms” if Gonzalez-Inoue was announced. They will be happy to know that Inoue is on Chocolatito’s radar and that he considers Inoue to be best junior bantie on the planet.
“Inoue, ‘The Monster,’ is the No. 1 fighter at 115 pounds in my opinion,” he said. “He is very strong. Cuadras has excellent combinations and moves very well in the ring, but he doesn’t have Inoue’s strength and power.”
Victories over Estrada, Inoue and/or Cuadras would make it very hard for any other elite boxer to challenge Gonzalez’s top spot on pound-for-pound lists, including Golovkin (who is No. 2, according to ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated). Gonzalez, to his credit, says it’s all a matter of opinion.
“People have told me that I’m No. 1, pound for pound, and that makes me happy because I love boxing,” he said. “But fans and the media, you guys, have the last word on who’s No. 1. Golovkin is a great champion. I like his discipline, his power and strength, and his technique. I can’t say who’s better, pound for pound.”
As big as 2015 was for Gonzalez, much bigger things could be right around the corner for him. But, Gonzalez, who is deeply religious, says he’s already been blessed.
“I thank God to have been able to fight in The Forum, where my mentor Alexis Arguello won his first world title, and at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Boxing.”
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer