The legendary Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez 51-3 (41) delivered another boxing masterclass to comprehensively outpoint late replacement and WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar ‘El Rey’ Martinez 18-2 (14) over 12 rounds at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California on Saturday night.
The 34-year-old Nicaraguan showed off his masterful skills throughout the fight, deftly blocking and slipping punches on the inside while landing hard shots to the body and head.
It was an impressive display from the old lion, who took the heart away from the 27-year-old Martinez to win by scores of 116-112 from judge Max DeLuca, 112-116, 117-110 from judge Mike Ross and 118-110 from judge Zachary Young.
Mexican Martinez was nothing if not tough, absorbing a tremendous amount of punishment throughout the fight but rarely able to offer any meaningful offence in return. Gonzalez remains an almost unsolvable riddle for most in the lighter weight classes.
“I’m thankful to God because he gave me another victory,” Gonzalez said. “I came in really good condition for this fight.
“I wanted to feel his power (in the first round), I wanted to work with him little by little. My corner told me not to give him any ground, so I didn’t.
“(Martinez) is very courageous. He can take a lot of punishment.”
Many fans and pundits thought Gonzalez was at the tail-end of his career following his fourth-round knockout loss in his rematch against then-WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai 50-5-1 (43) in September 2017. Their first bout six months earlier ended in a majority decision victory for the Thai fighter.
But former four division world champion Gonzalez battled on, earning a shot at then undefeated Kal Yafai’s WBA 115-pound strap in February 2020. He stopped the Brit in nine frames and made one title defence against Israel Gonzalez before entering into a long overdue rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada 42-3 (28) in March 2021 more than eight years after their initial clash that Gonzalez won by unanimous decision.
Their second fight was won by Estrada by split decision by scores of 117-111, 115-113 and 113-115.
Estrada was supposed to face Gonzalez this weekend before he contracted Covid-19 and was forced to withdraw from the fight. That opened the door for Martinez to step up in weight and test his luck.
Gonzalez is disappointed the trilogy fight didn’t take place, believing he has unfinished business with the 31-year-old Mexican.
“Everyone knows I won the last fight I had with Estrada,” Gonzalez said. “The only opponent who ever really beat me is Sor Rungvisai. I won the rest of my fights.”
Gonzalez had previously flagged a move up to bantamweight where a host of challenges await – including unified champion Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue 22-0 (19) – but was non-committal about his future moves when asked after the fight.
“Whatever comes,” Gonzalez said. “The boss is right here. (I’ll fight anyone) as long as they pay me.”