Monday, May 29, 2023  |


Roman Gonzalez: The legendary Chocolatito braced for impact with Julio Cesar Martinez

Gonzalez (right) on fire against Juan Francisco Estrada. Photo by Ed Mulholland/ Matchroom.
Fighters Network

If ever a man believed in letting his fists do the talking it’s Roman Gonzalez. There’s no pretense or alter ego. There’s no hype or trash talk. The diminutive Nicaraguan star earned his reputation solely by giving it everything inside the prize ring.

And at his best, he’s as good as it gets.

On Saturday, Gonzalez will face WBC flyweight titleholder Julio Cesar Martinez in a 12-round non-title bout at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California. The pair will duke it out at the 115-pound limit.

Despite how attractive the bout is, Martinez is actually a replacement opponent for The Ring junior bantamweight champion and WBA titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, who controversially outpointed “Chocolatito” last March to avenge a previous career defeat.

“We all know that [Estrada] got Covid, but immediately after that we confirmed the fight with ‘El Rey’ Martinez and it’s all good,” Gonzalez (50-3, 41 knockouts) told The Ring via translator Gabe Rivas. “The most important thing is that we can fight.

“I don’t get all that bothered [following defeats]. At that moment I felt sadness because one does all that is possible in order to get ahead. But what can you do? Only God knows [if a third Estrada fight will happen], but my focus is on this fight and nothing else.”

Martinez (18-1, 14 KOs) won the WBC title by halting Cristofer Rosales in nine rounds, in December 2019, and has made three successful defenses. The Mexican power-puncher is coming off a third-round no-contest with Puerto Rico’s McWilliams Arroyo, who suffered a severe cut from a clash of heads in November.

“My team said that Martinez was ready and that was it,” said Gonzalez, who accepted the fight immediately. “As I’ve said before, he’s a good fighter. He has his own distinguishing qualities and we’ve got to be ready for March 5th.

“Like always, this is going be a good fight. I’m going to go forward, do what I always do, and we’ll see what happens when the bell rings. We’ve prepared the same; everything is going to be the same. The only thing is, right now, we’re just waiting. We’re waiting for that moment, for fight day, to step inside that ring.”

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Gonzalez, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 115 pounds, has nothing more to prove. He has eclipsed the accomplishments of his countryman and mentor, Alexis Arguello, by claiming world titles in four weight classes. He was a pound-for-pound entrant for several years and eventually reached the No. 1 spot. Gonzalez is also responsible for injecting big money back into the lower weight classes, and many of his contemporaries have benefitted from that.

Can the legendary 34-year-old hold off a young tiger like Martinez? In terms of skillset, there’s no comparison. Gonzalez has forgotten more about ring craft than his opponent will ever know. With that said, the image of Chocolatito out cold at the feet of another explosive puncher, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, remains fresh in the memory.

But if this is the same fighter that showed up for business against Estrada in their rematch, then Martinez might be in for the boxing lesson of a lifetime. If Gonzalez can befuddle the younger man with cerebral aggression, positioning and punch variety, the only way he’ll come unstuck is if Martinez nails him with the go-home punch.

“We’re motivated to win this fight and after that we’ll see what’s next,” said the future Hall of Famer. “I asked God that I be able to continue my objectives. I will continue to work for my home country and we’ll see what happens [in terms of winning more world titles.]”

Whatever happens, enjoy this great little fighting man while we still have him.

Gonzalez-Martinez, plus undercard action, will be broadcast live and exclusive on DAZN.




Tom Gray is Managing Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing



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