Monday, December 16, 2013
'12 Days' wish list: Gonzalez-Estrada II
By Brian Campbell
Who wouldn't want to watch Roman Gonzalez, right, battle Juan Francisco Estrada again?
In the spirit of the holidays, ESPN is celebrating the season with our own "12 Days" wish list of the fights we want to see most, regardless of promotional or other entanglements. Keep checking back over the coming days to see new fights revealed, discuss our choices or even suggest some of your own in the comments section or via Twitter using #ESPN12Days.
12 DAYS: ESPN'S WISH LIST
Count down with us during our festivus of fights, our "12 Days" celebration of the boxing matchups we would most love to find under our tree this season:
For the past two years, junior flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez has toiled below the radar as boxing's best-kept secret.
Despite being one of the sport's most devastating punchers and a fringe member on many pound-for-pound lists, Gonzalez (37-0, 31 KOs), 26, a native of Nicaragua, has had trouble crossing over. Competing in the second-smallest weight division hasn't helped matters. Neither has the pint-sized power puncher's inability to get time on American cable.
For many fight fans, their lone exposure to "El Chocolatito" on television -- despite airing on the somewhat obscure AWE Network (then known as Wealth TV) -- was a November 2012 slugfest against Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada in Los Angeles. It marked just the third time in Gonzalez's career he had fought on American soil, but it was a fight those who stumbled across won't soon forget.
Not only has Gonzalez owned the junior flyweight division in recent years, he has scored knockouts in all four appearances during a recent run moonlighting at 112 pounds. But it was the exciting and ultra-aggressive Estrada, then just 22, who walked through the kind of punches that have finished nearly 84 percent of the fighters Gonzalez has faced.
NUMBER TO KNOW: GONZALEZ-ESTRADA
The number of knockouts Gonzalez has in his past nine fights. The only fighter to go the distance with "El Chocolatito" during this time was Estrada.
The two sluggers combined for a fight of the year candidate, with Gonzalez hanging on to defend his 108-pound title by unanimous decision. Estrada, who was just the second fighter since 2009 to go the distance with Gonzalez, put forth a performance so enthralling that hard-core fans have been screaming for a rematch ever since.
Estrada, who had moved down in weight to challenge Gonzalez, returned to flyweight in April to take a pair of titles from Brian Viloria in an exciting split decision. He later defended his titles in July by cruising past unbeaten Milan Melindo in Macau.
With Estrada having clearly proved himself in 2013 as the class of the flyweight division and, at 23, a star in the making, there's no better time than now for Gonzalez, who has difficulty making 108 pounds, to move up and seek a rematch.
Considering the fighters' class, Estrada's exciting style and Gonzalez's rarefied punching power, a rematch would not only be intriguing, it's one that deserves to get prime-time placement on a major network.