By Dan Ambrose: Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) will be attempting to avenge his loss to WBC Super flyweight champion Srisakt Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39 KOs) in less than 3 months from now on September 9 on HBO Boxing After Dark from a still to be determined venue in California. The Rungvisai-Gonzalez 2 fight comes just one week before the huge fight between IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 16 on HBO PPV.
It’s unclear how much the Rungvisai vs. Gonzalez fight winds up hurting the Canelo-Golovkin fight promotions. It’s obviously not coming at a good time for the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight. Some of the boxing fans that would be focused on the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight will be talking up the Rungvisai vs. “Chocolatito” rematch. Golovkin vs. Canelo is already dealing with the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor fight undercutting it with that fight being staged on August 26. The last thing Canelo and Golovkin needs is to have Rungvisai vs. Gonzalez taking place one week before their big fight on HBO. It would have been better if Rungvisai and “Chocolatito” had been added to the Canelo-Golovkin card as the co-feature bout. That would have helped make the fight card bigger and it would give less competition to the promotion of the card.
“I’m ready to go back into battle and reclaim by WBC Super Flyweight Championship from Sor Rungvisai on September 9,” said Roman Gonzalez. “I know what I have to do to become victorious and with God’s help I will be champion once again.”
Gonzalez may end up really regretting his decision to fight Rungvisai again. Without a major overhaul in his fighting style, Gonzalez is going to be in deep trouble when he gets inside the ring with Rungvisai again. Rungvisai has got really heavy hands. He’s arguably the most powerful puncher in the super flyweight division by far. Gonzalez’s power is nowhere near the level of Rungvisai.
The only area where Gonzalez was able to give Rungvisai problems was with his body punching. Rungvisai did not like getting hit to the body. Rungvisai gave up on slugging with Gonzalez in the last three rounds of the fight, and chose to circle the ring to avoid getting hit. That was a real surprise because Rungvisai is usually the guy that stalks his opponents and looks to knock them out. He didn’t want to get hit to the body Gonzalez.
The 30-year-old Gonzalez lost a 12 round majority decision to Rungvisai on March 18 this year. The judges scored it 114-112, 114-112 and 113-113. Boxing News 24 scored the fight 114-112 in favor of Rungvisai. He knocked Gonzalez down in round 1, and got the better of him with his powerful shots to the head. Gonzalez took a beating in that fight, and while he did come back in the last 4 rounds, he still didn’t do enough to get the ‘W’.’
Gonzalez has a lot of pride obviously, and he doesn’t want to walk away from that loss without trying to avenge it. But it’s pretty clear that Gonzalez doesn’t have the power to dominate at super flyweight like he did in winning world titles at 105, 108 and 112. Gonzalez has fought twice since moving up to super flyweight weight (115) against Carols Cuadras and Rungvisai, and he’s taken a beating in both fights.
In looking at the race of Cuadras and Rungvisai after their fights with Gonzalez, they looked unmarked. Gonzalez’s punches are not powerful enough for him to do damage in the super flyweight division. Gonzalez will need to either move back down in weight to flyweight or change his fighting style to become more of a boxer rather than a puncher. Right now, Gonzalez’s fighting style is still that of a puncher, but without having the punch in the 115 lb. division for him to excel. That often happens with sluggers when they move up in weight. They either change their fighting style or they start taking beatings, which I what we’re seeing with Gonzalez. He should have made a majir change of his fighting style after his grueling fight with Cuadras last year in September.
Gonzalez’s punching power couldn’t dent Cuadras’ chin, and it turned out to be a really brutal fight for Gonzalez. The only reason he won the fight was because he outworked Cuadras, and forced him to fight at a faster pace than he was capable. Gonzalez tried the same thing against Rungvisai, and it was working in the later rounds, but then the Thailand fighter adapted by getting on his bike. Gonzalez’s foot speed was too slow for him to catch up to Rungvisai in order to pull out the victory.
The Rungvisai vs. Gonzalez fight will be part of a triple-header on HBO Boxing After Dark. In the co-feature bout, unbeaten WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs) will be facing Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9 KOs). Inoue, 24, is an incredible talent, but this isn’t a great fight through. Nieves, 30, is coming off of a 10 round split decision loss to Nikolai Potapov. Shortly before that Nieves fought to a 10 round draw against Alejandro Santiago last September.
Nieves also fought to an 8 round draw against Stephon Young in June 2015. Nieves isn’t ranked in the World Boxing Organization’s top 15. This is more of a showcase fight for Inoue to make him look good. For a co-feature fight, you’d like to see Inoue facing at least someone like Carlos Cuadras, Rungvisai, Rex Tso, Khalid Yafai or Jerwin Acajas. Those guys would be good opponents for Inoue. Nieves vs. Inoue is just a mismatch, and not a fight that makes for good television on HBO.
If the idea is to build Inoue up to make him look sensational in order to put him in with the winner of the Rungvisai vs. “Chocolatito” fight, then it’s a great idea to match Inoue against Nieves. But if this is for entertainment purposes, then I don’t think Inoue-Nieves is going to work out for that purpose.
The arguably much more interesting undercard fight involves former WBC super flyweight champion Carlos “Principe” Cuadras (36-1-1, 27 KOs) facing former WBO flyweight champion Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada (35-2, 25 KOs) in a 12 round fight at 115 pounds. It’s unclear why Cuadras-Estrada isn’t the co-feature bout on the card, because it’s so much more competitive on paper than the mismatch between Inoue and Nieves. All I can think is Inoue is being given a major push to try and buildup a fight between him and the winner of the Rungvisai-Gonzalez fight for a unification fight. It’s nice on paper to have a unification, but it’s still better to have the more exciting fights at the top of the card instead of being pushed down to the third fight from the top.
I’d prefer to have seen Estrada or Cuadras matched against Inoue instead of a fighter that is coming off of a loss in Nieves. I think it’s going to make Inoue look better than he actually is. Don’t get me wrong. Inoue is a good fighter, but he hasn’t been fighting good opposition. Inoue didn’t look good in his win over David Carmona last May. Inoue won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision, but the scores by 2 of the judges didn’t match the actual fight that took pace. Those judges both scored it 118-109, 118-109. The other judge had it 116-111. That was the more accurate score in my view. Inoue won the fight, but he struggled with Carmona’s combination punching. Inoue got exposed in that fight, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the scores from 2 of the judges that had it 118-109.
Estrada and Cuadras both were beaten in the past by Roman Gonzalez. Estrada lost a hard fought 12 round unanimous decision to Gonzalez on November 17, 2012. The judges scored the fight 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112. The boxing fans loved this fight. It was closer than the 118-110 score that one judge had it. Estrada has won his last 9 fights since the loss to “Chocolatito”, and he’s looked great. Estrada had some problems in beating Brian Viloria by a 12 round split decision in April 2013, but he’s shined ever since then. Estrada is going to be a tough foe for Cuadras. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Estrada have his hand raised at the end of the fight. Estrada doesn’t possess the same power that Cuadras does, but he’s very technical and an extremely intelligent fighter. You’ve got to figure that any close rounds will go to Cuadras, because he’s better known in the U.S than Estrada and he has a lot of amateur experience.
Cuadras is going to need to come up with a different game plan for this fight than the one that we saw him use against Gonzalez and David Carmona. Cuadras was just throwing to throw rapid combinations to win rounds. It didn’t work against Gonzalez, as he stayed on top of Cuadras, forcing him to fight in a more sustained manner that his body wouldn’t allow him to do. In Cuadras’ last fight, he won a VERY controversial 10 round unanimous decision to David Carmona on March 18. The judges scored the fight 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93. Many boxing fans had Carmona winning. Cuadras was lucky to escape with a win, because Carmona had his number in that fight.