Saturday night sees the rare occasion where a replacement opponent can make an even better fight than the originally planned main event at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, as Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez meets Julio Cesar Martinez over twelve rounds at super flyweight.
The contest can be seen live on DAZN, and is promoted by Matchroom.
Originally, Gonzalez was due to face Juan Francisco Estrada in a trilogy match, but the Mexican contracted COVID, meaning that WBC flyweight king Martinez steps in for his countryman at a higher weight.
Gonzalez (50-3, KO41) was king of the lower weights in the early part of his career, winning world titles at minimum weight, light flyweight, and flyweight, and once word spread of his ferocious power, he was appearing high up HBO cards in America, further enhancing his credentials and also winning the WBC belt at super flyweight. His bubble surprisingly burst in 2017 though, when first, he lost a majority decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and was then shockingly knocked out in four in a rematch. The Nicaraguan rebuilt though, and three fights later, he was world champion again, taking the WBA crown with a superb ninth round stoppage of Kal Yafai.
After a first defence in Mexico, he lost his last contest while attempting to unify, edged out by split decision to the aforementioned Estrada. It’s a dangerous replacement he faces in this non-title contest in Martinez (18-1, KO14), who has built a reputation of his own. ‘El Rey’ came to prominence in 2019, with a knockout of Andrew Selby, but should have won the WBC flyweight belt in his next fight, but he hit Charlie Edwards while Edwards was down, and a knockout win became a no contest. Martinez won the vacant belt left behind by Edwards with a ninth round stoppage of Cristofer Rosales, and made three defences before his last outing, where he was on the floor and knocked down McWilliams Arroyo twice before the fight was halted after two rounds due to an accidental headbutt.
Prediction: This is a tough one to call, but it’s a big step up for Martinez at a new weight and against a force such as Gonzalez. It could well be yet another small weight classic, and I think that Gonzalez can take it in the later rounds.
Mauricio Lara (23-2-1, KO16) was one of the stories of 2021, with a stunning stoppage win over Josh Warrington, but he was cut in the rematch after two rounds, having to settle for a technical draw. He returns here with a ten round assignment at featherweight against Emilio Sanchez (19-1, KO12).
Mauricio Lara with the HUGE upset 😯
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) February 13, 2021
Prediction: Lara is heavy handed, and Sanchez’s only loss came by knockout, so I expect Lara to score a stoppage around halfway.
Souleymane Cissokho (14-0, KO9) made three appearances in 2021, and he has his first contest of the new year in a ten rounder at super welterweight against Roberto Valenzuela Jr (19-2, KO19). Cissokho’s WBA Intercontinental belt is on the line.
Prediction: Valenzuela is a banger, but hasn’t been past eight rounds, so Cissokho can take this one inside schedule.
Mexican lightweight Angel Fierro (19-1-1, KO15) defends his WBO NABO belt against faded former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (34-6-2, KO21). Fierro is only 23, but this is a good test for him, and Burgos has only really lost in good company, and has never been stopped.
Prediction: Fierro can take a points win.
In an eight rounder at middleweight, Diego Pacheco (13-0, KO10) should be able to outscore Genc Pllana (9-3-1, KO5), and over six rounds, Marc Castro (5-0, KO5) can continue his knockout streak against Mexico’s Julio Madera (3-1, KO2).
Skye Nicholson makes her professional debut, and the Aussie featherweight should come through on the cards over six against the unbeaten Jessica Juarez (3-0, KO1). in a four rounder at bantamweight, Anthony Christopher Herrera (1-0, KO1) can halt Jose Toribio (7-4, KO1).