Friday, April 19, 2024  |

By Tom Gray | 

Co-fighters of the Month

JUAN FRANCISCO ESTRADA
and ROMAN GONZALEZ

Between Roman Gonzalez outpointing Juan Francisco Estrada in a classic encounter in 2012 and their March 2021 rematch, the pair had combined for 31 wins and three losses and captured multiple world title belts in different divisions.

Despite being past the traditional prime for lower-weight fighters (Estrada is 30 and Gonzalez is 33) and the wear and tear they’d each accrued, the boxing world still expected a fan-friendly sequel between two of the sport’s finest warriors at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

“Chocolatito” and “El Gallo” would exceed all expectations. 



Mexico’s Estrada entered as the Ring Magazine junior bantamweight champion and WBC titleholder, whereas Nicaragua’s Gonzalez brought the WBA version to the party. From the opening round, Gonzalez applied constant pressure, created angles that only a master craftsman could and released scores of those brilliant signature flurries. By way of response, Estrada utilized his counterpunching finesse with the accuracy and professionalism of a bomb-disposal expert seeking to defuse an atomic device.

There were no knockdowns and neither fighter was seriously hurt, but the action was of the highest caliber, and a restricted crowd of approximately 2,500 fans was left awestruck. Estrada avenged his second professional defeat by 12-round split decision, but there were many who felt the verdict should have gone the other way.

“[Srisaket Sor] Rungvisai is a [WBC] mandatory, so I’ll look at that,” the winner said afterward, “but I’ll approach a third fight any day with ‘Chocolatito.’”

It’s just as well that Estrada is willing, because the WBC has handed him their “Franchise” distinction and set a vacant title fight between Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras. The intention there is to make way for the Estrada-Gonzalez rubber match, and regardless of the ludicrous political side of that move, there’s not a sane fight fan out there who doesn’t want to see this one again.

Estrada and Gonzalez were just amazing.