NEW YORK, March 16, 2017 – Before the top middleweights get in the ring Saturday night at Madison Square Garden for the main event, two significant super flyweight bouts have the potential to steal the show.
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaragua, widely considered the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter, puts his WBC title and unbeaten record up against mandatory challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand.
Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) has not been in the ring since his first bout at 115 pounds last September against Carlos “Principe” Cuadras of Mexico, a tough opponent who inflicted some damage on Gonzalez before losing a narrow decision. Cuadras returns on the same night to face Mexican former world title challenger David “Severo” Carmona (20-3-5, 8 KOs).
The winners in each bout will likely meet each other, which means a rematch eventually should Gonzalez and Cuadras both win. While this is expected, nothing is boxing is ever assured.
Gonzalez vs. Rungvisai: Preview and Keys to the Fight
Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38 KOs) is a veteran opponent, fighting for the first time in the United States and only the second time outside Thailand. The other fight outside Thailand was in Mexico against Cuadras in 2014. Due to a head butt, Cuadras could not finish the fight and it went to the cards after eight rounds, with scores of 78-73 and 77-74 X 2 for Cuadras.
When fighters from abroad show up on American shores with strong records, you simply can’t gauge what you’re going to get. Thai fighters tend to be aggressive, well-tested with solid fundamentals. Rungvisai has power, and he has speed to go with it. If he can rush Gonzalez and do some damage early from outside, it’s possible he could make the fight difficult for Chocolatito. Possible, but it’s hard to see him winning. Gonzalez controls the ring beautifully and his balance, footwork and other fundamentals are without peer.
Gonzalez must do more than merely win if he wants to retain his spot on top of the pound for pound list. His win over Cuadras wasn’t in dispute, but the power Gonzalez possessed at flyweight wasn’t as evident in his first fight at super flyweight. Saturday’s fight needs to settle this lingering question.
Gonzalez will be fighting without trainer Arnulfo Obando, who passed away due to a stroke last November. Obando had worked with Gonzalez since 2010. At the time, Gonzalez’ manager Carlos Blandon said “We have a team of three trainers, we will not hire any other trainer and Roman will maintain his other two trainers, Luis Gonzalez and Wilmer Hernandez.” Gonzalez has again trained alongside Gennady Golovkin at The Summit in Big Bear, California for part of his training. It’s no secret this is the power station where boxers go to develop and refine their power punching skills.
Gonzalez acknowledged Cuadras was his toughest opponent to date.
“I know it’s going to be a difficult fight but this is the best preparation I’ve had. I’m ready to put on a great performance,” said Gonzalez earlier this week. “I have always had respect for my opponent and it was a very tough fight at 115 (against Cuadras). Never did I think it was going to be easy campaigning in this division at 115. It takes time to get used to and I think that’s what is happening at the moment but I think I will be fine.”
Gonzalez became the first four-division champion from Nicaragua with his win over Cudras, surpassing his mentor, the late Alexis Arguello. Gonzalez fights not only for himself; he fights for legacy and for the entire nation of Nicaragua, where he is a star on par with Tom Brady or LeBron James. So far, he hasn’t seemed to feel the pressure. “My fight is for the public,” Gonzalez said of Saturday’s bout. “I am always very happy for the adulation. These days I want to move forward and make people happy by my performance.”
Rungvisai feels much the same way. “This fight is for the history of Thailand and I’ve come here to win and I will get the victory for the people of Thailand.
Cuadras vs. Carmona: Preview and Keys to the Fight
Cuadras is not in the same position as Gonzalez. He is far more established at 115 pounds. With a typically aggressive Mexican dance partner in Carmona, fans will get a typical Mexican Style show at MSG. Last May, Carmona (20-3-5, 8 KOs) faced super flyweight boogeyman Naoya Inoue of Japan. Carmona went the distance to a decision loss, but he’s one of only two opponents to get to the closing bell against Inoue. Don’t expect him to wilt against Cuadras. If he gets knocked down or stopped, Cuadras will have earned it.
Cuadras is a sunny, fun-loving personality with everything it takes to be a big star. He’s entertaining inside and outside the ring. He had a gift for Gonzalez at this week’s news conference to communicate his intention to get a rematch.
Cuadras told Communities Digital News in an interview prior to this fight, “I love boxing and boxing is my life. If someone has a passion for something in anything that they do it shows and with me. I love boxing, it is absolutely my life and I enjoy being in the gym competing against great fighters, partaking in the sport of boxing,” said Cuadras.
Does he think this helps lighten the pressure on him? With a laugh, he said, “I enjoy the moment. I don’t let the pressure get to me. I don’t pay attention to that. I get to fight in these massive arenas. Every day when I step in the ring my focus is squarely on the opponent in front of me.”
Making his first appearance at Madison Square Garden, Cuadras did admit New York City is a little cold for him. But no worries, because as he often jokes with media, “I am strong, I am fast, and I am very, very handsome.” Cuadras is not kidding about his strength. The smaller weight class elite fighters punch pound for pound with the power of heavyweights, coupled with speed. Cuadras has both to spare and should overwhelm a game Carmona.
Both Inoue of Japan and Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico will be watching with interest. It’s likely Cuadras and Estrada will have a summer showdown before either gets a shot at Gonzalez.
Also on the undercard, American lightweight rising star Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (17-0, 10 KOs) of Cleveland faces Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz (17-1, 8 KOs) in a ten round fight.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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