Last week former minimumweight and light flyweight world beltholder, and ProBoxing-Fans.com #4 pound for pound fighter, Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, parted ways with promotional outfit Prodesa. The reasoning behind the decision was unclear, but it would appear that Gonzalez has freed himself up for fights with fellow world class opposition down the line.
It is amazing to consider that the slight but explosive Nicaraguan is only 26 years of age, given that he won his first world title belt back in 2008. Since that night – when he broke down Yutaka Niida within four rounds – Gonzalez has struggled to achieve lift off, despite the belief amongst many observers that he is indeed one of the very best fighters in the world.
For years he has punctuated occasionally meaningful fights with a predominant schedule of overmatched also-rans that, with all due respect, did not belong in a prize ring with him. It’s a shame not only for Gonzalez himself, but also for the sport as a whole, with some of his finest years seemingly frittered away with inconsequential fights. A points win against the blossoming Juan Francisco Estrada aside, Gonzalez has not faced a legitimate quality opponent since he outpointed Katsunari Takayama in 2009.
It may be possible that Gonzalez’ recent steps taken to end a long-time promotional relationship may be due to his being beleaguered by a lack of top-level fights that would have given him the chance to test and perhaps flaunt his talent on the world stage. After all, when a fighter is just 26 years old we shouldn’t have to hark back to halcyon days of yore to remember his finest nights.
In early April of this year Gonzalez fought in Japan on the undercard to Akira Yaegashi’s defense of a world title strap against Odilon Zaleta. With both he and Yaegashi winning, rumors of the pair meeting later this year gathered some temporary momentum. Fast forward a few months and those intriguing utterances had turned to hushed silence.
There is of course no guarantee that this latest news regarding Gonzalez’ promotional change-up will actually enhance his chances of gaining bigger fights. Joe Frazier once told then middleweight contender Marvin Hagler that he had three strikes against him – that he was black, he was a southpaw, and he was good. A similar sentiment could be leveled at Gonzalez, though with different strikes – he’s extremely powerful, he doesn’t converse in English and he isn’t a particularly big name.
Of course, Gonzalez operates in a different sphere to what Hagler did, fighting in the lower weight classes, and he holds strong positions in the ratings of three of the four ‘major’ governing bodies, meaning a title shot of some kind isn’t beyond the horizon. Nonetheless, Gonzalez is not a current world title holder and, with those aforementioned strikes against him, is in no real position of power, meaning that as of now he is a high risk-low reward match for any of the flyweight division’s top names.
Ultimately it remains to be seen if Gonzalez’ severing of old promotional ties will drastically change his career path, but one must remain optimistic that at just 26 years of age, his best days are ahead of him. This shake up could prove positive not just for him, but for the flyweight division as a whole. There are some exciting names at 112 lbs – Yaegashi, Giovani Segura, Estrada and Brian Viloria to name a few, and Gonzalez more than belongs in that class.