Estrada gets revenge in decision over Gonzalez; trilogy fight on tap?
SAN DIEGO, Calif. March 13, 2021 – Saturday’s world super flyweight unification title fight between Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada was well worth waiting for.
In a fitting tribute to the spirit of Marvin Hagler, who passed away earlier on Saturday, Estrada of Mexico (42-3, 28 KOs) retained his titles with a split decision win over Gonzalez of Nicaragua (50-3, 41 KOs), eight years after their first bout. Scores were 117-110 and 115-113 for Estrada, and 115-113 for Gonzalez on the third card. He remains the unified WBC, WBA, and Ring Magazine Super-Flyweight champion.
The first words from Estrada were,
“I think I did enough to win. Chocolatito is a great fighter, and I think he deserves the trilogy,” said Estrada. There’s no doubt fans want to see it again, but the decision Saturday was in doubt for many of them.
All-action fight as expected
Estrada came out aggressively and won the first round easily. Gonzalez settled in, and the battle was on. Gonzalez found his footing and used his movement to find angles to hit and avoid getting hit. “You’ve got to stay on top of him. Just keep your pace. Little by little, you’ll start breaking him down,” trainer Marcos Caballero told Gonzalez.
Gonzalez uses no excess motion. He used his body to get into position and put Estrada on the ropes, as he did in their first fight. His accuracy was exceptional, and he also began catching more of Estrada’s counterpunches. Fists were flying, and the fans were on their feet for most of the fight. Gonzalez won the next few rounds. “You gotta be an asshole in the ring from now on,” Caballero told Gonzalez.
By round six, Gonzalez slowed a little. It was just enough for Estrada to seize an advantage, move in and turn the tide in the middle rounds. For those who felt he won the fight, here’s where it happened. He invested in the body, and it paid off.
Gonzalez stepped it back up with good right hands, but Estrada landed heavy headshots of his own. The younger man was the faster man, and Gonzalez’s superior accuracy kept him in the fight. In the seventh round, the pair landed a combined 95 punches.
In the eighth round and again in the ninth, Estrada’s increasing confidence showed as he began backing Gonzalez up.
Both were calculating exactly what effort it would take to win the fight. For the first time, Estrada had Gonzalez backed up but not pinned to the ropes.
“Set him up with your left, and throw the right,” said Estrada’s trainer Jose Alfredo Caballero (no relation to Chocolatito’s trainer).
“Don’t give up the round! Let your hands go,” said Marcos Caballero to Gonzalez. “He’s yours, let’s go, get the win! He’s hitting you with the hooks to the body, be careful. When he comes in close, throw your right. Bait him and throw your hand. Do your job, and we’re going to win.”
2,000 combined punches in the fight
As in the first bout, the pair threw over 2,000 combined punches. Estrada landed the harder shots, but it was Gonzalez who visibly hurt Estrada several times. It wasn’t enough to wobble him or buckle his knees.
Before the tenth round, Estrada’s trainer told him he needed a knockout. As he looked for the big shot, Gonzalez returned to using his superior footwork and kept connecting. As he put the pressure on Estrada, it seems Gonzalez was going to pull out the decision.
“We’ve got two more rounds. Just let your hands go, two more rounds, that’s it. There’s two more rounds. Give me two good rounds!” said Marcos Caballero to the Nicaraguan.
But there was still gas in the tank of El Gallo.
The two traded shots for six exhilarating minutes and the final round will surely be on the shortlist for sheer nonstop action.
Ring announcer David Diamante’s microphone decided to die on him just as the scores were handed in, making the announcement of Estrada’s win exceptionally dramatic.
Did Estrada feel he was behind after the 10th round?
“I knew it was a close fight. I didn’t know if I was up or down, and I needed to close the fight. If he threw two or three punches, I had to throw two or three punches as well.”
Estrada said fighting at 115 pounds on Saturday made a difference from the first fight, where he had to drop a weight division. “I’m at my weight, and I feel a lot better this time around,” said Estrada.
God wants to see the trilogy fight
Gonzalez, a deeply religious man, didn’t dispute the decision and seemed completely at peace. “Whatever happened had to happen. But I gave it a good fight. I would have been happy either way with the result. I did my work. The only guarantee is from the Lord. Everything that I have, I owe to God.”
Gonzalez also said he fought better this time as compared to the first bout. “I felt strong, and I felt I won. In the last round, I gave it all. It was a great round. The result is what God wanted, and I’m happy because I’m going back home to see my family.”
Thailand’s Srisikat Sor Rungvisai won his stay busy fight Friday night and is now Estrada’s mandatory challenger. Estrada said he’d “look at that. But I’ll approach the third fight any day with Chocolatito.” Rungvisai posted to social media, “Great fight between two warriors! Congratulations!
Now let’s do our trilogy.”
Gonzalez said he wants fights both with Estrada and Rungvisai.
“Whatever (Estrada) wants, we’ll do it. I’m very happy with my performance. And I enjoyed the fight.”
Turning to the limited audience in the American Airlines Center, Gonzalez closed the evening saying, “Thank you everyone in the public, and may God bless you all. I’m blessed by the Lord, and that’s why I’m so happy. Nicaragua, blessings to everyone. May God bless you all.” As he exited, the tears started to flow as Gonzalez walked out.
Estrada landed 314 punches of 1,212 thrown (26%) against 391 of 1,317 (30%) for Gonzalez. No matter the winner, it was an all-out performance delivering excitement for the fans from start to finish, with craft and aggression in equal measure.
Gonzalez has nothing left to prove. He was written off after his knockout loss to Rungvisai. Saturday was a moral victory, if not one on paper. Gonzalez looked as good as he did a decade ago when he was on top of the pound-for-pound list. To return to such a high level makes him a first-ballot lock for the Hall of Fame.
Estrada’s stock rose along with Roman’s, and his rematch with Rungvisai will be another highly anticipated fight, with a trilogy looming with Gonzalez no matter who wins. Once in a while, it’s a satisfying thing to be a boxing fan.
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Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer 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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