By: Sean Crose
“We’ve had a great training camp and I’m desperate to get in the ring for the trilogy with Román.” So says Juan Francisco Estrada on the eve of his third fight with the legendary Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. “I’m happy and I feel it will be a great fight like the last two.” With the vacant WBC junior bantamweight at stake, there will be a lot on the line when Estrada and Gonzalez answer the bell this Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona.
“He beat me in 2012,” Estrada says of Gonzalez, “and I beat him in the second fight, so you could say this is the decider. There might be a fourth like, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Márquez, who knows? We’ll have our trilogy, and we don’t know whether it will end here or not. We’re going to find out who is the best, who will be leading in fights won and if in the future, God willing, there is a fourth, bring it on.”
Although the two men are now arguably arch rivals, Estrada makes it clear that he respects his old foe. “He’ll be a Hall of Famer,” he says of Gonzalez. “He’s a fighter that has won many titles in four divisions. I respect him as a fighter, and you could say he’s has had a very different career to mine. I’ve also won titles, but I think he’s a great fighter and in the fights we’ve had. I think he’s also realized that I’m not just any other fighter and when we fight now, we’ll decide who is the best.”
As far as Estrada is concerned, he and Chocolatito are competitors rather than bitter rivals. “When you’re told you’re going to fight Chocolatito, there is a rivalry there but it’s sporting,” he says. “It’s not like: ‘I’m going to kill him!’ That’s a different way of feeling. You’re more focused on having a good training camp so that you can beat him… in the ring I’d say he’s my enemy but once the fight is over, we’ll hug, come out of the ring, talk to each other and we’ll wish each other good health and we’ll be on our way.”
With all that being said, Estrada is perfectly aware of how important this weekend’s’ fight is. “This fight is important because it’s the trilogy against a fighter who will be in the Hall of Fame,” he says. “There’s no doubt that this fight is the most important of my career because imagine beating Román González. You wouldn’t be taking anything from him, but I’d be in his position.”
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