Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez make weight for junior bantamweight championship
DALLAS – Both Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez weighed-in at 114.8 pounds for their junior bantamweight title unification bout on Saturday at American Airlines Arena. Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs), Sonora, Mexico, brings the Ring Magazine and WBC 115-pound titles to the anticipated rematch. Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs), Managua, Nicaragua, is the defending WBA titleholder. The 33-year-old four-division titleholder won the first match, which took place at junior flyweight in November 2012, by unanimous decision.
“It’s been a long wait,” Estrada, 30, said after Friday’s weigh-in at Thompson Hotel. “This fight means a lot to my legacy. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez is a hall of famer. But I know his strengths and weaknesses and we’re going to go for the knockout.”
Gonzalez, who earned Ring Magazine’s 2020 Comeback of the Year award for his WBA title-winning ninth-round stoppage of Kal Yafai after being counted out by most the boxing world following back-to-back losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017, was calm and smiling during the weigh-in. When DAZN’s Todd Grisham asked why he seemed so happy, the devote Christian replied: “We have God. We trained really hard and we’re going to win. God helped me get up when I was down (from the rematch KO to Sor Rungvisai).”
Estrada-Gonzalez headlines a Matchroom USA card that boasts two other Ring Magazine championship bouts: the Jessica McCaskill-Cecilia Braekhus rematch for women’s welterweight supremacy and the U.S. debut of Japanese junior flyweight star Hiroto Kyoguchi, who defends his Ring and WBA belts against Axel Vega.
McCaskill (9-2, 3 KOs), who won their first fight via majority decision last August, weighed in at 144.6 pounds. Braekhus (36-1, 9 KOs) weighed in at 145 pounds (both weighed the same for their first fight).
McCaskill, a 36-year-old Chicagoan, has been more brash and vocal going into the contracted rematch. She thinks Braekhus, who considered retirement last year, should have stuck with that plan.
“This is her last shot at a big payday,” she said of the future hall of famer. “We’re going to set the record straight this time and show everyone that the first fight wasn’t an accident.”
Braekhus, a 37-year-old veteran from Norway, was defiant during her interview.
“I’m better than her,” the former undisputed champ and pound-for-pound queen said. “Everybody saw that (with the first fight). She started all the trash talk as soon as she won the belts, so I had to come back and put her in her place. I’ll win, definitely, maybe by knockout.”
Kyoguchi (14-0, 9 KOs), a 27-year-old Tokyo resident, weighed in at 107.8 pounds. Vega (14-3-1, 8 KOs), a 20-year-old Mexico City native, weighed in at 107.2.
Kyoguchi promised to “fight like a champion.” Vega said fans can expect “a war between Mexico and Japan.”
Sounds good. The chief undercard bout, a middleweight crossroads bout between prospect Austin Williams (7-0, 6 KOs) and gatekeeper Denis Douglin (22-7, 14 KOs), also looks good on paper.
Williams, a 24-year-old Houston resident who didn’t start boxing until he was 19, weighed in at 162 pounds. Douglin, a 32-year-old Brooklyn native, weighed in at 161. 6.
“I’m a real fighter, a true warrior,” Williams said when asked why he agreed to fight a veteran who has faced the likes of Jermell Charlo, George Groves, Anthony Dirrell and David Benavidez so early in his career. “The game got messed up with too many fighters only looking for matchups that they can win. He’s going to try to ‘little brother’ me but my dedication to boxing will shine through.”