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Gonzalez, Estrada on collision course

10/29/2014
AP Photo/Toru Takahashi

For those who have not been paying attention, this is a great time to be a fan of the flyweight division. Sure, it doesn’t get much love from the major boxing TV networks in the United States, but that doesn’t change the fact that there have been some excellent fights recently, with another likely to happen in the early part of 2015.

That would be a rematch between lineal champion Roman Gonzalez, also owner of an alphabet belt, and unified titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada.

Gonzalez (40-0, 34 KOs), who has also held titles at strawweight and junior flyweight, made his final junior flyweight defense against Estrada in November 2012. It was a tremendous battle, one Gonzalez won by unanimous decision at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles before vacating the title and moving up in weight.

On Sept. 5, Nicaragua’s Gonzalez, the best fighter in the world most people are not very familiar with, finally got a shot at the flyweight title, going to Tokyo and knocking out Akira Yaegashi in the ninth round to win the world championship.

After Estrada (30-2, 22 KOs) lost to Gonzalez, he moved up to flyweight and in his next fight outpointed Brian Viloria in another excellent fight to claim two belts. He has made three defenses, including an impressive 11th-round knockout of big puncher and former junior flyweight champion Giovani Segura on Sept. 6.

A rematch between Gonzalez and Estrada seemed like a natural and that is what we just might get as both sides are interested in the sequel. To make it even better, HBO, which has generally ignored fights south of the junior featherweight division, is interested in the rematch. That’s a great thing because Gonzalez and Estrada deserve the exposure and fans deserve a can’t-miss fight that should feature plenty of action and a high degree of skill.

But there is still work to be done before the expected rematch comes together. Both fighters have to get through interim defenses.

Gonzalez, 27, is returning to Japan to make his first defense, which will be against the Philippines’ Rocky Fuentes (35-7-2, 20 KOs) on Nov. 22 in Kanagawa.

“I'm in optimum shape. My physical condition is top-notch to face Rocky Fuentes, who's a hard and dedicated rival,” Gonzalez said. “Rocky knows how to throw combinations and he is able to vary his punches. I hope all goes well, as it has in all my fights so far.”

Estrada, 24, had his fourth title defense announced this week: Dec. 6 in his hometown of Hermosillo, Mexico, against the Philippines’ Joebert Alvarez (14-0-1, 6 KOs). That bout likely will air in the U.S. on beIN Sports Espanol.

Ideally, Gonzalez and Estrada will come through their upcoming bouts unscathed and they will meet in a rematch that hopefully will give both men -- and their fun-filled division -- the attention they deserve.