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Kal Yafai to defend junior bantam belt against ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez on Garcia-Vargas card

Kal Yafai (right) tags Sho Ishida. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports
Fighters Network

Kal Yafai will make the sixth – and most high profile – defense of his WBA junior bantamweight title, when he faces former pound for pound champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez on Feb. 29.

The fight, which was announced Thursday afternoon, will be part of the card headlined by Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, and will be broadcast in the U.S. on DAZN and in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports.

Yafai (26-0, 15 knockouts) of Birmingham, U.K. had been angling for a unification bout with Juan Francisco Estrada, but once Estrada went on the injured list, he picked the fighter with perhaps the best name recognition at 115 pounds. The 30-year-old Yafai will be making his third defense stateside in his last four bouts, and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Norbelto Jimenez in June.

“Chocolatito is someone that I have idolized as I worked my way up to become world champion myself, so it doesn’t get much bigger than this and it will bring out the best in me,” said Yafai.

“I can’t wait, it is a case of when idols become rivals and I am so honored to share the ring with him but also show the world that I am an elite world champion.”

Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs) of Managua, Nicaragua returned to the ring shortly before Christmas, stopping overmatched Filipino Diomel Diocos in two rounds in Japan, in what was his first bout in 15 months.

Gonzalez had held world titles in four divisions, but at 32, has likely seen his best days behind him, following a pair of losses to Pongsaklek Sor Rungvisai in 2017.

“I know this will be a very hard fight, but it will be worthy of all our efforts and determination,” said Gonzalez.

Also slated for the card, Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs) will make the first defense of his WBC flyweight title against Jay Harris (17-0, 9 KOs) of Wales.