Prospect Watch: Junior Flyweight, Flyweight, and Super Flyweight
By: Oliver McManus
In these uncertain times across the world it is impossible to put a timeframe on any prediction and, naturally, there are far bigger things to worry about than when boxing will be back on the agenda. Nevertheless over a series of articles we’re going to look at prospects from all corners of the globe worth keeping an eye on when punches can be thrown again. The fighters chosen will have different ceilings and this is, by no means, a definitive list of fighters set to be world beaters but merely a selection of names we believe will provide plenty of entertainment along the way.
We kick off our series with Hasanboy Dusmatov who made a long awaited paid debut in November last year. The Uzbek southpaw holds a distinguished amateur record: Gold at Rio 2016 and the Asian Amateur Championships (2015 and 2017) pair nicely with Silver at the 2017 World Championships. Having been linked with big name promoters immediately after that success in Brazil it’s perhaps surprising we had to wait so long for his debut. The patience of Dusmatov is to be admired, though, and he impressed when the time came: scheduled for eight against Jesus Cervantes (9-7), the light-fly got the job done in just two rounds.
Ginjiro Shigeoka isn’t a name too familiar to me but was suggested by a family member living in Malaysia. The Japanese fighter turned professional in September 2018, three weeks before his 19th birthday, and has started making moves at minimumweight. Naturally not the deepest of weight divisions but opportunities come fast and often: so far Shigeoka has risen to the challenge without a hitch.
Staying in that Asian bubble and we can turn our attention to Suzumi Takayama: with only three pro fights under his belt the super-fly is the least experienced on our shortlist. Having held a somewhat take-it-or-leave-it amateur record of 36-15 there isn’t a lot that would immediately highlight Takayama as one to watch. Japan, however, has a reputation of breeding pedigree at lower weight classes and the 23 year old is being ambitiously advanced through the domestic division. Fighting out of Watanabe Gym, Takayama secured the national youth title with a last round knockout over, previously unbeaten, Tetsuro Ohashi in October. There will be lots of developing to come for the fighter who impressed on the University circuit and there’s every chance he might not hang around at 115lbs.
Across the ocean and a young Jesse Rodriguez is racking up experience and plaudits aplenty. The 20 year old turned over in March 2017 and in those three years since looks a completely different man: as is to be expected when debuting two months after his 17th birthday. Now 11-0 and embracing sturdier challenges it’s a credit to his match-making that Rodriguez has been allowed that time and space to naturally develop as a fighter: that dedication paying dividends as the calibre of opponent increases. The San Antonio native now looks comfortable at flyweight having toyed with weight classes in the past. Money on him to be the city’s first major world champion since ‘Jesse’ James Leija, in 1994, wouldn’t be beyond reason.
WIBF World Flyweight Champion Regina Halmich has Made 44 Title Defenses
By: Ken Hissner
Germany’s Regina Halmich, 54-1-1 (16), made her professional debut in March of 1994. In her sixth fight she won the WIBF European Super Flyweight Title defeating Cheryll Robertson, 0-0, of the UK by decision over 10 rounds. Two fights later she made her only defense of that title in Italy defeating Maria Rosa Tabbuso, 0-0, over 10 rounds.
In her ninth fight in April of 1995 Halmich, 8-0, made her only appearance in the USA at the Alladin Hotel, in Las Vegas, NV, and was not able to come out for the fifth round due to a cut on her cheek losing to Yvonne “The Terminator” Trevino, 1-1 (0), of Peoria, AZ, in a scheduled 10, for the vacant WIBF World Flyweight Title. Both boxers were down in the first round.
Photo Credit: Regina Halmich Facebook Account
In Halmich’s next fight due to Trevino never willing to defend her title Halmich wins the vacant WIBF World Flyweight Title defeating South Korean Kim Messer, 0-0, of Kirkland, WA, by split decision in Karlsruhe, Germany. In her next fight she defends her WIBF European Super Flyweight Title stopping Sonia Pereira, 0-0, of Portugal in the 7th round.
In Halmich’s next fight she defends her WIBF World Flyweight for the first time defeating Brigitte Scherzinour, 0-0, of Germany, knocking her out in the 8th round. Next she makes her second and last WIBF European Super Flyweight Title defeating Petrina Philipps, 0-0, of the UK.
In December of 1995 Halmich makes her second WIBF World Flyweight Title defeating Anissa “The Assassin” Zamarron, 4-1, of Austin, TX. Her next four defenses were against 0-0 opponents, then 0-1, 1-0 and 0-0. In September of 1997 she fought her first really good opponent in defeating southpaw Viktoria Pataki, 13-0, of Hungary. In December of 1998 they had a rematch in the Ukraine with Halmich again defeating her when she was 17-1.
Halmich has defended and defeated unbeaten boxers like southpaw Alina Shaternikova, 8-0, and again when she was 11-1, a Russian out of the UKR, Szilvia Csicsely, 10-0, of Hungary, Nadja Loritz, 13-0-2, a Morrocan out of Germany, and winning a split decision over Maria Jesus Rosa, 19-0.
Some of the better opponents Halmich defeated were Hollie “Hot Stuff” Dunaway, 13-3, of Las Vegas, Viktoria “Mili” Milo, 15-5, of Hungary, Wendy Rodriguez, 18-3-3, of L.A., and fought a draw and won the rematch by decision over Elena Reid, 14-1-4, of Las Vegas, in a draw and in the rematch 17-2-5, by decision.
Halmich has defeated 17 opponents who were making their debut, and two with 0-1 and 0-2 records. In her final fight she won a majority decision over Hagar Shmoulefeld “Super” Finer, 6-3-1, of Israel.
Halmich fought once each in Italy, Austria, USA and UKR with 52 of her 57 fights in Germany. How you can defend a world title against an opponent who never had a fight is like Floyd “Money” Mayweather at 49-0 fighting a 0-0 Conor McGregor. Halmich retired at age 31. Her manager was Klaus-Peter Kohl and her trainer Torsten Schmitz.
More Boxing History
Super Fly 2 Is Highlight of HBO’s Thin Schedule
By: Bryant Romero
The Super Fly 2 card which takes places this Saturday at the Forum in Inglewood, California is so far the highlight of HBO’s so far thin schedule. The card will feature 2 world title fights and a matchup between top contenders in the super flyweight division as part of a triple header on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs) is the main event headliner as he will put his WBC super flyweight strap on the line against former two-belt flyweight champ Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) in a mandatory title defense.
The main event is a can’t miss fight between two top operators in the Super Flyweight division that is not a foregone conclusion on who will win, which has been norm so far in the HBO boxing 2018 schedule. The fans are genuinely interested and looking forward to the event as once again people from across the country and all over the globe will be flying in for this show.
It’s ironic that a card featuring some of the smallest fighters in the world is the can’t miss event of the year so far on HBO. There was a time when the network hardly ever showcased fighters south of 118 pounds. But former pound-for-pound King Roman Gonzalez paved the way for the smaller fighters to showcase their skills on a premium network in the U.S. And with the success of the previous Super Fly card at the Stubhub Center that also featured quality matchups, promoter Tom Loeffler has no doubt that Super Fly 2 will leave a greater mark on TV, which will mean even more cards in the future featuring the smaller weight classes on HBO’s airwaves.
The times though have certainly changed as HBO boxing is no longer the 800 pound gorilla in the industry and now no longer considered as the best premium platform to watch boxing. Showtime has been giving them a run for their money over the past year and it remains to be seen if HBO can continue to produce quality matchups on a more consistent basis on their flagship network and not matchups that the public will have to pay extra on PPV.
Also on the Super Fly 2 card, three-weight champion Donnie Nietes (40-1-4, 22 KOs) will be opening the “Boxing After Dark” telecast when he defends his IBF flyweight title against mandatory challenger Juan Carlos Reveco (39-3, 19 KOs) and the middle bout will feature the return of former champion Carlos Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs) in a crossroads bout with the hard hitting McWilliams Arroyo (16-3, 14 KOs) in a ten round bout.
Super Flyweight Super Card: 2017 Just Keeps on Giving
By: Matt O’Brien
“I think 2016 should go down as one of the worst years in boxing history, maybe the worst.” – Oscar De La Hoya, October 2016.
Photo Credit: HBO Sports
The Golden Boy’s sad assessment of the state of boxing almost a year ago may have been somewhat of an exaggeration, but it’s fair to say 2016 was not exactly a banner year for the sport. Still recovering from the stench of the Mayweather-Pacquiao mega-letdown in 2015 and facing the prospect of being usurped as the world’s No.1 combat sport by a surging UFC, boxing was certainly in need of a serious shot in the arm.
Many of the sport’s detractors, especially the less informed members of the mainstream media as well as some of the staunchest supporters of MMA, were prepared to go even further than De La Hoya and pronounce the imminent demise of the Sweet Science. Writing for the LA Times in September 2016, for example, reporter Dylan Hernandez confidently declared: “Boxing is dead”.
Well, if boxing is dying, it is one hell of a glorious death. 2017 has been an absolute treat, with a raft of superb cards around the world and several of the best and most meaningful fights across the divisions getting made.
January started with a bang as the world’s two best super middleweights, James DeGale and Badou Jack, fought to a draw in their attempted unification fight in New York. Keith Thurman then unified two welterweight belts in March, while April saw 90,000 fans pack out Wembley Stadium for one of the best heavyweight title fights in recent memory. Errol Spence travelled to the UK for another massive stadium showdown with Kell Brook in May, and in June Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev fought to determine pound-for-pound supremacy in a rematch for the WBO/WBA/IBF light-heavyweight championships. Then in August boxing crowned it’s first undisputed champion for 12 years, as Terrence Crawford captured all four major belts at 140lbs.
Of course, most recently the richest fight in history also happened to take place in a boxing ring and saw MMA’s biggest star easily dismantled over 10 rounds. The list of huge boxing fights in 2017 goes on and on, and this weekend the trend continues.
Boxing’s little men do not always receive the attention or the acclaim that fighters higher up the weight classes typically garner, but it’s hard to ignore this stacked super flyweight card. Three quality fights, two of which are for world titles and feature two of the most talented operators in the sport, while the third pitches two exciting former world champions against each other in a battle of top contenders. There is nothing not to like about this event.
Kicking things off, American viewers will be treated to their first look at Japanese sensation Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (13-0), as the WBO 115lbs champion makes the sixth defense of his title on his American debut, versus Antonio Nieves (17-1-2) of Cleveland, Ohio. The young phenom is already a two-weight world champion at just 24 years of age and his fluid, rangy technique and vicious body attack is one of the most pleasing styles to watch in the sport. Expect the Japanese prodigy to do the business and set up a return to American soil against one of the other winners on the main card.
The chief supporting bout is a terrific Mexican civil war between former WBC 115lbs champion Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1) and former WBA/WBO 112lbs champion, Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2). Since losing a closely contested points decision to Roman Gonzalez back in 2012, Estrada is on a nine-fight win streak, including impressive victories over former world champs such as Brian Viloria, Giovani Segura and Hernan Marquez. Meanwhile Cuadras is also on the comeback trail having lost his title to Gonzalez, being defeated over twelve rounds in the Nicaraguan’s 115lbs debut last year.
In what promises to be an exciting, high-skills match-up, the winner will command a spot as the top contender in the division. This one could go either way, but I’m going with the crisp combination punching of Estrada to see him through to a points victory in a tightly fought bout.
Finally, the main event on Saturday sees an immediate rematch of one of the most grueling fights and biggest upsets of the year so far, when the unheralded Thai Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1) claimed a surprising majority decision over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in March. The Nicaraguan four-weight world champion went into that contest with a perfect 46-0 record and was widely regarded as the finest pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Floored in the opening stanza by the naturally bigger challenger, Gonzalez responded well and took firm control of the contest over the middle rounds. The Thai fighter showed incredible guts and resilience to come back into the fight over the second half, though he seemed very fortunate to receive the judges’ verdict – if Gonzalez had won just a single extra point on one of the scorecards, he would have retained his title via majority draw.
In the first fight the two men threw an incredible combined total of 1,953 punches, and the return is likely to be just as bloody and fiercely contested. “Chocolatito” clearly owns the superior skillset of the two, but he is also fighting at a significant disadvantage in weight. The smaller frame and aggressive, counter punching style of Gonzalez also means that he will inevitably spend much of the fight “in the pocket”, with the extra natural strength of the Thai posing real danger. Although I expect the more accurate punching and better defence of the former champ to prevail, as I believe he deserved to last time, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Sor Rungvisai drag Gonzalez into another war of attrition and make it a close call on the official cards once again.
The fun does not end at the sound of the main event’s final bell, however. In fact, almost as exciting as the card itself are the potential follow-up fights that can be made in the wake of Saturday’s results.
Most obviously, assuming that both come through with a “W”, one of the best matches that could be made – not only in the super flyweight division but in the whole of boxing – would be a blockbuster clash between Japanese star Inoue and Nicaraguan legend Gonzalez. As well as crowning a unified and lineal champion at 115lbs, this would also springboard the winner towards the dizzy heights of boxing’s best practitioners, pound-for-pound. A match-up of this quality would easily surpass any to take place in boxing’s lower weight classes since Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzalez became the first little men to headline a PPV card back in 1993, in what turned out to be one of the fights of the decade. It is no exaggeration to say that a potential meeting between “The Monster” Inoue and “Chocolatito” Gonzalez could live up to similar expectations.
Estrada and Cuadras, both in the hunt for a rematch with Gonzalez, could equally provide exciting opposition for Inoue, should a superfight between the aforementioned pair be left to “marinate” a while longer, to use the promotional jargon. Assuming the two Mexicans deliver the kind of drama expected on Saturday, any combination of winner and loser of that fight vs. Gonzalez or Inoue would make for compelling viewing.
Of course, there is also the prospect of either Sor Rungvisai or Nieves – or both – pulling off the upset and throwing a great big spanner in the works. The Thai’s experience and gutsy style make him a tough assignment for anyone, and even coming off a decent losing performance versus Gonzalez he would still present an interesting challenge for Inoue, with a fight between the two South-East Asians no doubt doing great business in Japan. And while Nieves starts as a huge underdog, he comes in without the pressure of being expected to win on his shoulders. The Japanese fighter is boxing away from home for the first time, and while it’s hard to see him losing, Sor Rungvisai’s win over Gonzalez should remind us that no fight is a foregone conclusion.
In short, the possible combinations of intriguing matches emanating from this weekend’s fantastic card are numerous, and the fact that one of boxing’s lowest weight classes is gaining the kind of attention usually reserved for stars in the heavier divisions is a great sign that the sport overall is in very good health.
So, if you know anyone suggesting that boxing is “dying”, you might want to direct them over to HBO this Saturday night – they’ll see that the Sweet Science is alive and kicking. With so many other excellent fights already on the horizon, including the GGG-Canelo megabout and a plethora of mouth-watering match-ups in the World Boxing Super Series, boxing really is booming.
Monster Invasion: Naoya Inoue Comes To America
By: Sean Crose
Twenty four years old. Five feet, four inches tall. Thirteen wins. Zero Defeats. Zero draws. Eleven knockouts. Two world titles in a career that has run a span of less than five years. Meet Naoya Inoue, the WBO World Super Flyweight Champion from the southern portion of Japan, who is about to make his American debut this Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The highly acclaimed Inoue will be one of the headliners on a card deemed “Superfly” because it will present fans with top level superflyweight matches. It is most certainly one of the year’s biggest cards.
Aside from Inoue’s premiere stateside foray, there’s Roman Gonzalez’ much anticipated rematch with Srisaket Rungvisai after their brilliant battle for the WBC super flyweight crown last winter in New York. Juan Francisco Estrada will also be facing Carlos Cuadras, who will be looking to show his mettle after a disappointing performance last March. To be sure, there are those who claim that Inoue has the easiest of the three big fights this weekend. This line of thinking, however, may prove to be wide of the mark. For Inoue’s opponent, Antonio Nieves, might not seem as menacing as Gonzalez, Rungvisai, Cuadras or Estrada, but he’s certainly no slouch.
Boasting a record of seventeen wins, one loss and two draws, the Cleveland native’s lone defeat came by split decision to the undefeated Nikoli Potapov in a fight that was aired on Shobox back in March. He may not be a power puncher, but Nieves has a solid amateur background, an effective jab and the opportunity of a lifetime before him. Expect the fighter, who also works as a banker, to try to make the most of his opportunity in front of HBO cameras this weekend.
The man will have his work cut out for him with Inoue, however. For the fighter known as “The Monster” has terrific footwork, blistering combinations, a sound jab and destructive power. It could, in fact, be argued that Inoue is the complete package. He’s certainly proved his worth in less than fourteen professional fights. One matter of possible concern, though, if the fact that people are expecting a lot from the young man from Kanagawa. An upset loss or a less than stellar showing could harm Inoue’s fearsome reputation. Like Floyd Mayweather just over a week ago, the fighter will walk into the ring knowing anything less than dominance will be seen as a disappointment.
Sor Rungvisai, Gonzalez Hit 7-Day Weight Limit Ahead of Anticipated Rematch
By Jake Donovan
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez remain on course to make weight ahead of their highly anticipated HBO-televised rematch which takes place September 9 at the famed StubHub Center in Carson, California.
As the WBC super flyweight title is at stake, both boxers have been required to perform 30- and 7-day safety weight checks to ensure they are not losing an extraordinary amount of weight during any point in training camp. The WBC requires that participants are to not weigh more than 10% above the contracted weight at the 30-day mark and no more than 5% above said limit at the 7-day mark.
Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39KOs) tipped the scales at 119 lbs. for the first defense of his second time in possession of the WBC title he wrested in a major upset win over Gonzalez this past March at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Gonzalez (46-1, 38KOs) weighed 119.8 lbs. as he looks to avenge the lone loss of a stellar career that has seen title wins in four weight divisions and worldwide acclaim as high among the very best boxers in the world, pound-for-pound.
The maximum weight any super flyweight can weigh in a WBC-sanctioned bout at the 7-day mark is 121 lbs, rounded up to the nearest whole pound.
Both were also well within the 30-day mark, where neither boxer could weigh more than 127 lbs; Sor Rungvisai weighed 123 lbs, while Gonzalez was at 122 lbs.
Their first fight remains among the very best of 2017, many believing it to be second only to Anthony Joshua’s 11th round knockout of Wladimir Klitschko in their epic heavyweight title tilt this past April. Gonzalez suffered the first knockdown of his career, dropped in the opening round of their HBO Pay-Per-View chief support but rallying back and—in the eyes of many observers—seemingly doing enough to retain his title and unbeaten mark.
The three judges felt different, landing a 113-113 even tally on the scorecard of Waleska Roldan (more infamous these days for her 117-111 scorecard in favor of Jeff Horn over Manny Pacquiao this past July) but losing 114-112 on the respective cards of Julie Lederman and Glenn Feldman.
With the loss, Gonzalez saw his super flyweight come to a close after six months and the only of his four weight divisions in which he failed to lodge a single successful defense. The physically blessed athlete from Nicaragua enjoyed lengthy title reigns at strawweight and junior flyweight before moving up in weight in 2014 to wrest the World flyweight crown from Akira Yaegashi.
Four successful defenses followed before once again moving up in weight last September. The move resulted in his becoming the first boxer ever from Nicaragua to capture titles in four weight divisions, surpassing the late and legendary Alexis Arguello—Gonzalez’ boxing idol—after scoring a spirited 12-round win over previously unbeaten 115-pound titlist Carlos Cuadras.
The result this past March makes that very win come full circle. Cuadras obtained his title in a technical decision win over Sor Rungvisai in May ’14, grinding out six successful defenses before conceding his crown to Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, Sor Rungvisai has peeled off 16 straight wins since the loss to Cuadras—mostly over nondescript competition but of course no victory bigger than the one he managed over Gonzalez in March to become a two-time 115-pound titlist.
Cuadras (36-1-1, 27KOs) has a chance at a rematch of his own agains the winner of the September 9 headliner, as he appears in the opening bout of the HBO-aired tripleheader. The free-swinging knockout artist from Mexico will take on countryman and former unified flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada in a WBC final elimination bout.
There was a little more drama in their weight results, although both were ultimately on the mark. Cuadras was well within the limit, clocking in at 119.9 lbs. Estrada (35-2, 25KOs)—whose flyweight run began as inspiring but was plagued by inactivity and injuries before vacating—barely hit the maximum mark of 121 pounds, benefiting from the 5% overage being rounded up to the nearest whole pound.
The 27-year old former flyweight titlist—who managed five defenses before vacating his belts in 2016 to move up in weight—now has six days to lose six pounds. It’s commonly done at higher weights but could prove an interesting scenario for a super flyweight whose body frame obviously isn’t quite as large.
A potential rematch angle also exists for Estrada, provided both he and Gonzalez come out winners in their respective bouts. The two met in a fever-pitched 12-round war in Nov. ’12, with Gonzalez prevailing by unanimous decision in what marked the final defense of his junior flyweight reign. Both boxers moved up to flyweight soon thereafter, but their paths somehow never crossing despite both owning titles at the weight.
Estrada has managed nine straight wins since his loss to Gonzalez.
Wedged in between the two bouts on the card, the evening’s co-feature offers the stateside debut of unbeaten Japanese wunderkind Naoya “Monster” Inoue (13-0, 11KOs). The prodigious 24-year old talent—who held a junior flyweight belt before moving up two divisions to super flyweight—attempts the sixth defense of his WBO title versus Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9KOs).
The WBO does not require 30- or 7-day safety weight checks; therefore any such progress by either boxer remains unreported ahead of Friday’s weigh-in.
What’s next for WBA super-flyweight champion Kal Yafai?
By: Dale Josephs
Khalid “Kal” Yafai finally revived Birmingham boxing by bringing world championship boxing back to the region earlier this year, with a lively card of extremely high quality bouts, as well as a WBA world title on the line.Suguru Murunaka was the preferred opponent for Yafai’s first voluntary defence; a durable Japanese fighter who’s never been stopped but had previously only ever fought in his home surroundings of Korakuen Hall, Tokyo.
Eddie Hearn, the figurehead of Matchroom Boxing, delivered once again with a truly enjoyable spectacle which witnessed local Brummies compete; younger brother Gamal Yafai, Sam Eggington and Frankie Gavin emerged victorious from their bouts. Still WBA super-flyweight world champion, Kal Yafai, headlined the Birmingham bill which enticed a rammed arena to cheer, jeer, and drink plenty of beer. The Barclaycard Arena, which sits next to Brindley Place overlooking the famous canals, was occupied by a energetic, vibrant crowd which, along with the lights, music and fighters, created a thrilling atmosphere.
Admittedly, fans wereentirely anticipating Yafai to unite both his raw talent and ferocious power to make easy work of Murunaka. Yet, the Japanese fighter showed heart, courage and commitment to ensure Kal had to work to retain his belt. Despite the contest lasting 12 rounds being seen as extra, unnecessary ring time, it did mean the super-flyweight champion was allowed to showcase his superior boxing ability. Over the distance, Murunaka was completely out-boxed.And, considering Yafai’s hands were immediately in ice following the fight, Murunaka proved he is very tough and durable and is able to take a volume of big punches. Kal was clearly a fan favourite in his home town and he made certain the fans observed a successful defence of his prestigious title.
Now, despite Yafai allowing his bruised hands to heal thoroughly before he advanced any further in his career, the next move in his so-far perfect career has now been plotted. Later this year, the Birmingham based boxer will encounter a Japanese fighter for the second successive fight, and yet another fighter with an unblemished record. The second defence of Yafai’s WBA super-flyweight title will see him share the ring with 25-year-old, Sho Ishida.
So, will this Japanese fighter be able to achieve what the previous one couldn’t and inflict a first defeat on Kal Yafai’s record?
Well, Yafai himself seems to think this will be his most difficult fight to date, and believes Ishida’s unusual height for a super-flyweight will potentially cause him problems. He told Sky Sports, “I’ve watched a few bits of him and the first thing about him is he is very tall. He’s very, very tall for a super-fly so I have no idea how he does that, but he actually looks very good as well.”
Alongside his incredible 5 foot 8 frame, which is 4 inches more than Yafai, he also possesses natural, fierce power which has enabled him to win 13 out of his 24 professional wins inside the allotted distance. But, it’s his range and boxing ability that could prove to be the difference, with a huge reach advantage of 10cm, Kal may discover an extreme difficulty in getting close enough to land his own decisive shots. Although, Yafai is a big body puncher and has showed time and time again his ability to land ferocious punches to his opponents’ ribs and midriff. With that in mind, if he can reduce the gap between himself and Ishida, hurtful body shots could take its toll on a taller, thinner opponent.
Providing Yafai successfully defends his title and retains the WBA super-flyweight belt, an obvious progression would be to establish himself in America and aim to unify the division. Even though Roman Gonzales was finally conquered by Srisaket Sor Runvisai, he remains a colossal name within the 115lbs division, and still has an opportunity to acquire revenge in his rematch with Runvisai. So, along with Roman Gonzales, other opponents which could assist Yafai in creating a legacy would be the other champions; IBF champion Jerwin Acajas, WBO title-holder Naoya Inoue or even WBC champion Srisaket Sor Runvisai if he beats Gonzales for the second time would set up massive clashes in the super-flyweight bracket.
WBC Favors Mexican Boxers in Female Flyweight Tournament
WBC Favors Mexican Boxers in Female Flyweight Tournament
By: Ron Scarfone
The World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight tournament in women’s boxing began in October. It was supposed to settle the debate as to who is the best female flyweight boxer in the world. Instead, it has created more questions than answers. Before I delve into that, I think it is important for you to know the past history of the WBC regarding their involvement in women’s boxing. There was a time when the WBC did not embrace women’s boxing. According to Global Boxing Union (GBU) President Jurgen Lutz, former WBC President Jose Sulaiman said that the WBC would not sanction women’s boxing while he was the president, but he later changed his mind because of former Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) flyweight champion Regina Halmich of Germany making the equivalent of millions of dollars in euros.
The WBC began being involved in women’s boxing in 2005. That same year, the WBC approved a reduction in weight classes for women’s boxing from 17 to 13. According to Jose Sulaiman, these changes were made after a review by a “Medical Committee.” Sulaiman also stated that many other actions would be taken in order to make women’s boxing better and safer. I am not a doctor, but it seems to me that having less weight classes would actually make women’s boxing less safe. The WBC eliminated the cruiserweight division from women’s boxing, but this did not have any adverse effect since there are no female cruiserweights. The super middleweight division was eliminated as well as the super welterweight division and super lightweight division. Bear in mind that this statement by Sulaiman was made in 2005 which was the same year that they started being involved in women’s boxing. They did not have much experience in women’s boxing and yet they intended to make wholesale changes that they felt would improve the sport based on the recommendations of a “Medical Committee.” The doctors on that committee should have their medical licenses revoked. Under these rules, a female boxer who was a super lightweight would have to choose between being a lightweight or a welterweight which could affect her performance and her health.
These changes that were recommended by this “Medical Committee” were not followed by the WBC. Why? Because they are stupid. Also, less weight classes means less money to be made because of less champions and sanctioning fees. In 2005, Laila Ali won the vacant WBC female super middleweight title which was one of the divisions that the WBC supposedly eliminated from women’s boxing. Also in 2005, Mary Jo Sanders won the WBC female super lightweight title which was a division that was removed according to Sulaiman. In 2006, Jisselle Salandy won the vacant WBC female super welterweight title which was also one of the weight classes that the WBC stated that they deleted.
After Jose Sulaiman died, his son Mauricio Sulaiman became the WBC President. Currently, the duration of rounds in women’s boxing is two minutes instead of three and title fights are ten rounds instead of twelve. Mauricio Sulaiman stated that women have an 80% increased probability of getting a concussion than men. He further stated that “these are pure facts.” Women typically do not punch as hard as the men. Did that fact factor into the WBC’s decision? If the WBC is so concerned about the safety of female boxers, why not have one minute rounds and two minute breaks? How about 16 ounce gloves? The reality is that women will never make as much money as the men if the amount of time that they are scheduled to fight is less than the men. Regina Halmich was an exception and Million Dollar Baby was a movie. In the UFC, women and men have the same rules for amount and duration of rounds in title fights: 5 rounds of 5 minutes each. There is equality in the UFC that does not exist in women’s boxing.
Women’s boxing is very popular in Mexico. Soccer and boxing are Mexico’s two most popular sports. The WBC’s reasoning for limiting the time of women’s boxing is because of safety reasons. WIBF President Barbara Buttrick said that she prefers two minute rounds and ten round fights not because of safety reasons, but because she feels that a shorter fight is faster and more interesting. I can understand her opinion if she feels that women’s boxing is more entertaining as a shorter fight, although I do not agree with it. On the other hand, the WBC claims that women are more susceptible to fatigue and dehydration which is why the decision was made for the women to have different rules than the men regarding the time of each round and the amount of rounds.
These rules are not just with the WBC. All of the other sanctioning bodies are the same in this regard. 10 two-minute rounds has become the standard for women’s world title fights. In general, promoters can justify paying female boxers less money because their fights are scheduled for less time than the men. If the other sanctioning bodies were to change this so that the women have the same rules as the men, then the WBC would possibly be pressured to change their rules as well. The WBC has a history of changing their minds when money is at stake. Choosing to get involved in women’s boxing and retaining the weight classes are examples of this. However, the WBC has an advantage over the other major sanctioning bodies because it is based in Mexico. Because women’s boxing is popular in Mexico and because it is televised there, female boxers can probably make more money fighting there even if the WBC had to compete with women’s title fights scheduled for 12 three-minute rounds in other countries.
Since women’s boxing is so popular in Mexico, you would think that Mexican fans would want longer female fights. Maybe they do, but they would rather have something else. They want the Mexican boxers to win. Rounds that are two minutes each are more difficult for judges to score than rounds that are three minutes each if the judges are actually fair and impartial. Because of that, it is easier to rob boxers of victory if the judges are biased. It does not look as obvious that the judges are biased if the rounds are shorter in time. I also believe that the WBC wants shorter fights for the women because it makes it easier for the WBC’s Mexican world champions to win. I believe that this is not just because of the judging, but also because fights that are shorter in duration are physically easier for the Mexican female boxers. They do not need as much stamina and there are less punches being thrown at them. There is also another reason why I believe the WBC wants women’s fights to be shorter. Less time for the women means more time for the men. Women’s title fights are 10 rounds of 2 minutes each which equals 20 minutes. Compare this to the men’s title fights that are 12 rounds of 3 minutes each which equals 36 minutes. That is a difference of 16 minutes. The women are boxing 16 minutes less than the men. Therefore, those 16 minutes can be used for a 4-6 round men’s fight to be scheduled on the card.
Mauricio Sulaiman made an announcement about the WBC’s plans for a female flyweight tournament and listed potential contestants. 18 boxers made the list and 8 of them were selected to participate in the tournament. Four of them are from Mexico: Jessica Chavez, Ibeth Zamora Silva, Esmeralda Moreno, and Ana Arrazola. The other four came from other countries. Melissa McMorrow is from the United States, Raja Amasheh is from Germany, Naoko Fujioka is from Japan, and Nina Stojanovic is from Serbia. None of the Mexicans were scheduled to fight against each other in the preliminary fights of the tournament. If the fights go the distance, then the outcome is controlled by the judges and then all four Mexicans can proceed to the semifinals of the tournament.
Jessica Chavez who is the reigning WBC female flyweight champion was matched up against Naoko Fujioka. Fujioka is the reigning WBO female bantamweight champion, so she had to go down two weight classes in order to participate in this tournament. Of course, that is a disadvantage in itself. The fight was in Mexico which is another disadvantage. Chavez excels at holding and she repeatedly held Fujioka’s arms and put her head in a headlock. The referee would make them separate, but it kept happening. In round six, there was a clash of heads and Fujioka went down, but the referee ruled it as a knockdown. In the tenth and final round, the referee finally deducted a point from Chavez due to excessive holding. The judges’ scores were 96-92, 95-93, and 95-93 all in favor of Chavez by unanimous decision. I scored it 97-91 in favor of Fujioka. I believed that Fujioka won 8 of the 10 rounds.
The next fight of the tournament matched up Esmeralda Moreno against Melissa McMorrow. Both are former world champions. McMorrow lost to Mariana Juarez and Jessica Chavez by biased decisions in Mexico. McMorrow defeated Kenia Enriquez by split decision to win the WBO female flyweight title. About eight months later, McMorrow was in this tournament. Moreno won the IBO, WIBF, and GBU female super flyweight titles in April 2016. About three months later, she challenged Jessica Chavez for her WBC female flyweight title. Blood was coming out of Chavez’s nose. Moreno lost by a biased majority decision.
Moreno’s next fight was against McMorrow in the tournament. This was a fierce fight between two boxers who are both championship caliber. In round two, the referee deducted a point from McMorrow due to a headbutt which was accidental. Throughout the fight, McMorrow was usually getting the better of the exchanges. Moreno complained again about a headbutt in round eight, so the referee deducted another point from McMorrow. Moreno had a cut above her left eyebrow and it was bleeding, but she was getting punched in the face. The judges scored it 100-90, 100-88, and 98-89 all in favor of Moreno by unanimous decision. The judge that scored it 100-88 did not give McMorrow a single round. I scored it 95-93 in favor of McMorrow and that includes the two point deductions.
The third fight of the tournament had WBC Silver female flyweight champion Raja Amasheh of Germany defending her title against Ana Arrazola of Mexico. Amasheh was undefeated with 19 wins. Arrazola is the only one in the tournament to have double digit losses on her record with 11 losses. This fight was in Austria and apparently was not televised because there is no video of it on the Internet. The only article that I could find about the fight was not written by an unbiased journalist. It was a press release written by the WBC. The article stated that Arrazola landed a lot of clean counterpunches and that she had a close lead on the judges’ scorecards. There was open scoring, so the total scores were announced after rounds four and seven. Arrazola knew that she was leading after round seven with scores of 67-66, 67-66, and 68-65. After the tenth and final round, the judges’ scores were 96-94, 96-94, and 97-93 all in favor of Arrazola by unanimous decision. Amasheh is a much better boxer than Arrazola and I find it hard to believe that Arrazola pulled off the upset victory.
The fourth fight of the tournament has not happened yet, but it is scheduled for November 26 and it will be in Mexico. WBC female light flyweight champion Ibeth Zamora Silva will defend her title against former World Boxing Federation (WBF), WIBF, and GBU super flyweight champion Nina Stojanovic of Serbia. Stojanovic is undefeated at 9-0. This is supposed to be a flyweight tournament. Why is the WBC allowing this to be a light flyweight fight? I believe that there are two reasons. The WBC can collect a sanctioning fee by having Silva defend the title that she already has which is in the light flyweight division. It is also a disadvantage for Stojanovic to have to go down two weight classes. If the fight goes the distance which is likely, then expect the judges to award Silva the victory. If that happens, then all four Mexicans in the tournament will move on to the semifinals.
We do not know for sure what the matchups are going to be in the semifinals, but I am going to make some predictions. Because Silva is really a light flyweight, I predict that the WBC is going to give Silva the easiest road to the finals. I predict that Silva will be matched up against Arrazola. Silva has already defeated Arrazola in Silva’s pro debut and Arrazola is by far the worst boxer in the tournament. I believe that Chavez will be matched up against Moreno. Moreno is a better boxer than Chavez and she proved this when she lost to Chavez by a biased majority decision in July. However, the judges will likely rob Moreno of victory again. I believe that the WBC wants Jessica Chavez and Ibeth Zamora Silva to be in the finals. Both of them are rated in the top ten pound for pound by Ring Magazine and BoxRec.com. Of course, these lists are based solely on the results of the fights and do not take into consideration that there are biased decisions.
Like all the other kinds of championship belts, the WBC belt is made of metal and leather. In my opinion, the WBC female world champion belt does not look particularly attractive. I think it looks like a flower colored with green slime from the Ghostbusters movies. It is true though that the WBC belt is desired by female boxers because of its prestige. The winner of the WBC flyweight tournament will receive the WBC Diamond Belt. The belt apparently has real diamonds on it. It might as well have cubic zirconia instead of diamonds because this tournament is not going to determine who the best female flyweight in the world is. It may not even determine who the best Mexican female flyweight is. Kenia Enriquez was one of the potential participants, but she was not selected for the tournament. Enriquez defeated Arrazola in 2014 to win the vacant WBO female flyweight title.
Who will ultimately win the WBC Diamond flyweight belt? I believe that Chavez will be the winner. Chavez has the same last name as Julio Cesar Chavez who is considered to be the best Mexican boxer of all time. Chavez has an advantage of being a flyweight since the final fight will be (or should be) at flyweight. After all, it is a flyweight tournament. After Chavez wins in the finals, then she will be given the Diamond belt and then there will be a fiesta celebrating Chavez as the best female flyweight boxer in the world! It is good for business to have Mexicans winning in the tournament. The people of Mexico get a vicarious thrill when they see Mexican boxers being victorious against boxers from other countries.
When there is biased judging, it makes boxing similar to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in that the outcomes are predetermined. What happens in the ring is not scripted like the WWE. Boxing is not choreographed beforehand, but the result of the fight can be determined beforehand. The scores just have to coincide with that planned result. What happened to the losers of the tournament so far who are the real winners? Of course, their boxing careers have suffered to some degree. McMorrow is scheduled to fight in California on December 3. It will not be televised, but people will come to see McMorrow who has a lot of fans. McMorrow should still be a world champion. If she was Mexican, she would be. McMorrow should be considered one of the best in the world pound for pound, but her losses in Mexico by biased decisions have prevented her from having that status. Fujioka is rated the No. 1 bantamweight in the world by BoxRec and is also rated No. 9 pound for pound. Ring Magazine does not rate her on its pound for pound top ten list. Fujioka does not currently have a fight scheduled. Amasheh is rated No. 10 at flyweight by BoxRec in spite of her loss by decision to Arrazola. Amasheh has no fight scheduled. Stojanovic still has to fight Silva and the fight is in Mexico.
Women’s boxing needs the support of American promoters in order to flourish in the United States. The fight card in California has all female fights, but it is not televised. Promoters need the support of television networks. If an event is not on television, then it is more difficult to schedule world title fights for that event. Promoters have limited budgets and they often cannot afford to schedule a women’s world title fight if their shows are not televised, even though they would have to pay much less money than for a men’s title fight. There are fees that have to be paid for world title fights such as a sanctioning fee, belt fee, and fees to the officials (judges and referee) who get paid extra for working in a world title fight. The female boxers also get more money than they would normally receive, although each boxer would be very fortunate to receive at least $5,000 if the title fight is not televised. Of course, the promoter can afford to schedule a 4-6 round women’s non-title fight, but women’s boxing has to be televised in order for it to be successful at the highest level in America. World-class boxers who have to go to their opponent’s home country for a shot at a title or to defend their title are not always treated fairly in and out of the ring. There are sanctioning bodies that would like to have title fights for women in America, but they are only limited by the lack of support from promoters, matchmakers, and television networks.
Fights You Should Get Hyped About: Gonzalez-Cuadras (Sept. 10th)
Fights You Should Get Hyped About: Gonzalez-Cuadras (Sept. 10th)
By: Sean Crose
Okay it’s no surprise that a lot of boxing fans are disappointed with the general state of the sport at the moment. With all due respect to the more patient among the fan and analyst base, there’s much for fans to be displeased with. Still, those pesky patient types are one hundred percent right to claim there’s still much to like about the sweet science – even here in good ‘ol 2016. Sure enough, there’s some fighters out there well worth watching. What’s more, these pugs are – wait for it – willing to challenge themselves. Let’s begin, then, with a new series here at Boxing Insider called “Fights You Should Get Hyped About.”
First and foremost, a bout that’s not getting a ton of attention, but that should be high on everyone’s list is the upcoming battle between the 35-0 -1Carlos Cuadras and the 45-0 pound for pound kingpin Gabriel Gonzalez. The fight, which will be for the WBC super flyweight championship, will be held September 10th at the Forum in Inglewood, California. It will also air live on HBO the same day Gennady Golovkin engages in a major bout against Kell Brook across the pond in England. While the Golovkin-Brook bout, which HBO will run that evening along with the Cuadras-Gonzalez card, is getting some well-deserved attention, the super flyweight title scrap deserves to generate a lot of heat, as well.
Why? Because Cuadras and Gonzalez are good. Really good. Most fight fans are familiar with Gonzalez, but Cuadras is a fighter who comes to do battle. He’s the standing champion with 27 knockouts on his resume and a healthy amount of confidence walking into the fight of his life. Needless to say, this is not some dude off the street who has been brought in to make Gonzalez look good. He’s a serious opponent who may not surprise a whole lot of people if he pulls off the upset in Inglewood.
Still, this is Gonzalez that Cuadras is facing, Chocolatito himself, perhaps the most highly regarded Nicaraguan fighter since the great Alexis Arguello. Cudras may fire shots like pistons – and that he most certainly does – but Gonzalez has immense speed to match his immense power with. He’s a hard man to pick against, to be sure. Mexico’s Cuadras, however, has never tasted defeat himself. And, as much as he respects Gonzalez, Cuadras will be bringing his own impressive skill set into the ring on the 10th.
A fight truly worth looking forward to.
Ryo Mutsumoto In Hospital
Ryo Mutsumoto is expected by many boxing insiders to reach the dizzy heights of world championship level with an amateur record of 53-3 (39) at the time of turning professional. Matsumoto’s amateur career was not decorated with Olympic golds or world championship glory, but winning the Japanese High School tournament is an achievement, as it is regarded as being one of the toughest tournaments in the world of amateur boxing. There was one tournament where Ryo had to be pulled from as a result of an condition which sadly deemed him too ill to compete.
Matsumoto a tall, powerful boxer with an 83% knockout ratio ( 15 ko’s from 17 wins )as a professional comes from the highly respected Ohashi gym,training alongside excellent Japanese WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue.Ohashi,himself is a 2-time world amateur champion and holds Ryo in high regards.
Winning his pro debut in just 94 seconds, he was off to a winning start. Matsumoto racked up six straight knockouts before going in with tough veteran Yoshinori Koto scoring an impressive 5 round stoppage victory. Three outings later and Matsumoto found himself winning an 8 round decision over 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Hisataka, a win that really made the Asian Boxing world take notice of him.Next came Thailand’s Rusalee Samor a world ranked and very dangerous opponent for the 12-0 prospect,but Ryo systematically outboxed and knocked Samor out in the 12th to take the OPBF Super Flyweight title from Rusalee, a former IBF Pan Pacific Flyweight champion.
Ryo’s 5ft 8 inch frame proved to big to boil down to Super flyweight, so he predictably moved up as far as super Bantamweight and in his last bout, which happened on may 8th saw him in a tough back and forth affair with mexican Victor Uriel Lopez ,with Matsumoto looking sluggish, Lopez won by fifth round stoppage.
News has come to light that Matsumoto is still in Hospital following the fight ,although this is not from the result of being stopped. This is from the condition that plagued him during his amateur days.
The nature of the illness has not been disclosed ,but Boxinginsider.com wish Ryo Matsumoto recovers quickly and that he can continue to fulfill his potential.
Introducing Inoue: Can He Melt “Chocolatito”?
Introducing Inoue: Can He Melt “Chocolatito”?
By: Brandon Bernica
As soon as perennial talent Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez finished unlacing his gloves after a dominant performance over McJoe Arroyo a few weeks ago, the boxing universe began to chatter. See, Gonzalez has hit the point in his accomplished career where his promoters are scraping the bottom of the bucket of potential foes at 112 pounds. Consensus is that, other than a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada – who Gonzalez already edged out in a classic little-man’s scrap, no one in the division seems to pose any semblance of a threat to the Nicaraguan champ.
Paired with middleweight monster Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on April 23rd for the 3rd time, the dynamic was crystal clear. Golovkin billed as the heavy-handed ticket magnet that galvanized Southern California’s Mexican fanbase, whereas “Chocolatito” showcased as the slightly lesser-known flyweight maestro, conducting an orchestra of scathing hooks to the solar plex and overhand rights that thudded like strikes to a bass drum. Golovkin appears headed towards assuming the top space in boxing’s pound-for-pound hierarchy. In doing so, he will have to replace the man firmly ensconced in that position by most of the boxing press – his cohort, Roman Gonzalez. And in the prime of his career at 45-0 and with Hall-of-Fame credentials, who could argue that?
Every race has its dark horse. As frontrunners fade and contenders jockey to escape mediocrity, one horse usually thrusts forward to lead the pack. With our eyes trained on the one runner exercising his dominance over the field, an underdog missiles his way out of obscurity until he grabs our attention. Once our peripherals finally recognize this challenger’s determination, the real race begins.
Across the Pacific Ocean, an anomaly is slowly building a dangerous reputation in the sport. Naoya Inoue – hailing from Yokohama, Japan – is not your average fighter. For starters, he reigns as a two-time super flyweight world champion already, winning his first title in his 6th pro fight. Even more bizarre is that he still has less than 10 fights total and barely broke the age of 23 a couple weeks ago. In an era when promoters are looking to season their fighters with 15-20 comically soft tuneups before even considering decent opposition, this feat is remarkable.
If you’re old-school and prefer your cup of analysis with heavy doses of the eye test, Inoue is tough to knock in any perceivable category. Even small highlight reel sample sizes reveal gifts many veterans in the sport spend their lives seeking with no fruition. For an orthodox fighter, Inoue uncorks his lead left hook with a quick, rebuking snap. If that punch doesn’t punish his oft-poorly distanced foes, a slicing right hand – never thrown off balance – cleans up his combinations. Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of Inoue’s quick yet explosive career is his propensity to down fighters with body shots. Today’s culture of quick-fix consumption in the form of Vine clips and Instagram videos has diluted the sport’s craft, with boxers head-hunting for their shot to be seen on Sportscenter’s nightly top plays. Body snatching is a lost art, so the fact that the Japanese prodigy often pulverizes his foes’ guts with blows to the midsection is as impressive as it is unnoticed. What better way for an under-the-radar talent to finish fights than with punches that are also rarely appreciated by fans? To top it off, his defensive reflexes and footwork stay steps ahead of the men attempting to punch him, keeping him scotch clean and favorable in the judges’ eyes.
With all that being said, it begs the question: how could boxing’s best kept secret remain so anonymous for so long?
For one, Japanese fighters have long been reluctant to cross stateside into our collective consciences. And who could blame them? Boxing is celebrated in a Japanese culture where bravery is amongst its most notable precepts. Japanese fans shower adulation on their homebred fighters. One would surmise that financial incentives are strong for these fighters to remain on the island. 130-pound titan Takashi Uchiyama – considered the best in that division by many – has never ventured outside his home country to fight. Uchiyama’s rival Takashi Miura also held 32 of his 34 matches in Japan. One of the two foreign-turf opportunities he seized was the chance to appear on the massive Canelo vs Cotto undercard last year against Francisco Vargas, which proved to be a classic war between two rugged fighters. Japan’s boxing independence even attracts fighters from other countries to live and train inside its borders, including current lightweight champion Jorge Linares, who lives in Tokyo.
Another theory behind Inoue’s lack of public prominence deals with boxing’s long-standing, passive discrimination of the “little guy”. One common myth is that smaller fighters lack the one-punch pop to make for entertaining fights. Yet Gonzalez’s fights against Estrada and Brian Viloria validate that weight shouldn’t be a determining factor for fan enjoyment. Still, pundits such as BJ Flores will fail to acknowledge anything that transpires in the sport below 122 pounds (10 pounds above Gonzalez and 7 above Inoue). In fact, it took HBO up until last year to finally “gamble” and slate Gonzalez onto a GGG undercard. Mind you, Gonzalez is the best to offer south of 122 pounds; if he could barely find significant TV time, how does that bode for lesser warriors around that weight? And how likely does that make a network to fund a foreign fighter who, on paper, lacks the paid dues that landed “Chocolatito” air time?
Inoue’s slim amount of pro experience also might discourage fans from looking beyond the surface into what the Japanese star is all about. Guillermo Rigondeaux won his first title in his 9th fight, and Vasyl Lomachenko challenged for his first in only his 2nd official battle of his pro career. Granted, both those guys were amateur stars, yet their rapid ascensions didn’t scare away networks from getting them big time fights. Both men are of foreign descent as well and don’t speak much English. By default, you would believe that everyone would be clamoring to bring Inoue to America to be groomed into a marketable television fighter, yet that hasn’t been the case.
What’s clear is that there remain a number of factors obstructing Inoue’s inevitable birth into superstardom in the US. What isn’t clear is whether Gonzalez would be able to handle a slick, youthful talent in Inoue a few years down the line.
Yeah, yeah, Gonzalez would be favored against the Japanese slugger now. But let’s say Inoue continues down the path of success he’s towing closely right now. Perhaps he gets to hang a few more belts from his living room mantle and learns more inside of the ring in doing so, all while hitting his stride at 25 or 26. By that time, Gonzalez will only be in his early 30’s, meaning each man will presumably still command top-notch skills. Hopefully, boxing will realize the value in lower division fights, allowing this to be an event hardcore fans would anticipate with fervor.
Within the ropes, both fighters carry strong claims that they possess the qualities necessary to outlast the other guy. Gonzalez punches in bunches, is a master at gauging timing and distance, and punctuates combinations with torso turning power. Yet – out of anyone Gonzalez could face in the interim – Inoue is much more defensively sensible. Plus, his power, punch variety and intelligent offensive restraint pose monstrous quandaries that Nicaragua’s own will have to overcome. Remember also that Inoue is naturally the bigger man (3 pounds heavier), so taking and giving shots will be much easier on his end than for Gonzalez.
Two conclusions can be drawn from all of this. One is that Inoue is a diamond blaring from the rough, reflecting off the sun and daring us to notice its greatness. Two is that Gonzalez is a cut above, and to uplift respect for the smaller combatants of the sport to new heights, he might just need a true rival to test him, one who also has never glimpsed defeat in the eye. A match made in heaven just may require some divine intervention to fulfill these expectations. But like the dark horse, expectations are meant to be shattered. That’s when the fun really starts.
Roman Gonzalez – Hot Chocolatito
Roman Gonzalez – Hot Chocolatito
By: Sean Crose
“Who is Chocolatito?”
This question, which was asked to me by the head of my department at the small college where I teach and tutor, took me by surprise. Why? Because my supervisor is no big fight fan. Indeed, she’s not even a casual fight fan. She doesn’t like boxing at all, truth be told. Yet she thought to ask me who this Chocolatito guy was.
That, fight fans, is what’s known as good news. At least it’s good news if you’re Roman Gonzalez, the 45-0 flyweight sensation whose nickname is, of course, Chocolatito. For boxers don’t cross over into the mainstream much these days. And that’s particularly true of smaller fighters, who even many legitimate fight fans ignore. For a contemporary academic to be curious about a smallish pugilist is very telling indeed. In short, it tells us that people are talking about Roman Gonzalez, so much so that the larger world outside of that occupied by fight nuts is starting to hear the man’s name.
And while it’s true Gonzalez will most likely never reach the popularity of a Mayweather or a Pacquiao, he may most certainly become a legitimate star regardless. How? Through generating interest and excitement. Needless to say, the man has been doing a wonderful job bringing the heat so far. Sure, he wasn’t able to knock out his foe last weekend, but McWilliams Arroyo was nothing if not a talented, determined and courageous foe.
Like Mike Tyson, Gonzalez will be forgiven for not knocking out everyone in his path. So long as he continues to excite, to thrill and to dominate, his popularity will likely continue to grow into the future. Why? Because Gonzalez never, ever sleeps on the job. He’s also becoming a bit synonymous with excitement when it comes to boxing’s core fan base. That has a lot to do with Gennady Golovkin.
And it has even more to do with Home Box Office.
For someone came up with the brilliant idea (that’s not sarcasm, by the way) to pair up Gonzalez’ matches with the ferocious and feared GGG’s. And as the Kazakh’s popularity has grown, so has Gonzalez’. Granted, neither is at the level of say, a Canelo Alvarez, but both men are doing an excellent job getting their names out there. While the bigger GGG is getting more of the spotlight, Gonzalez is earning the notice of fans who may have otherwise ignored a flyweight fighter, no matter how good that flyweight’s record might have been.
That’s saying something.
There truly is no such thing as an overnight sensation when it comes to boxing. James Douglas, arguably the biggest “overnight sensation” in history, had been kicking around the heavyweight division for what seemed like ages before he finally stunned the world by knocking out Mike Tyson. In other words, it generally takes time for careers to develop. Even though Gonzalez is now on the fast track, it will take a bit for him to reach his full potential as far as viewership numbers and paychecks are concerned.
Word is Gonzalez may soon headline his own card on HBO, however. If that’s not a big development, it’s frankly hard to say what is.