Only one can win: Gonzalez beats Cuadras, wins fourth world title
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez made history Saturday night after earning a unanimous decision over Carlos “Principe” Cuadras – winning a fourth world title in as many divisions – a feat no Nicaraguan has ever accomplished.
“I’m very honored to win this fourth divisional title in honor of Alexis Arguello,” said Gonzalez after winning the WBC super flyweight title.” Thanks very much to all of my Nicaraguan fans for their support. I could hear them chanting during the fight.”
Billed as the main event on “HBO World Championship Boxing,” the 6,714 at The Forum in Inglewood, California was the orchestra of a thrilling prizefight.
Gonzalez, 46-0 (38), was the first to hypnotize them with every creative combination he forced upon his Mexican counterpart. Cuadras was getting hit often but wasn’t dismayed by the power shots Gonzalez imposed on his body and head. The 28-year-old from Mexico City fought back and, in the second round, his work captivated what seemed to be the entire crowd, chanting “Ni-car-agua!” to “Mex-i-co!”
Cuadras, 35-1-1 (27), fought well off the back foot and, in the third round, turned in his best three minutes of the fight, until that point, but Gonzalez’s tremendous accuracy seemingly overshadowed whatever Cuadras did. Back and forth they went and the onlookers went from chanting their pride to loud squawks of unequivocal enjoyment without bias.
In the fifth, Cuadras had one of his best rounds and, in it, he targeted Gonzalez’s body and topped off the round by shuffling his legs. He seemed to get confident as the fight went on and felt comfortable enough to be willing to eat a punch in order to deliver one. Many times he loaded up with left hooks that had every ounce of his 114.8 pounds behind it. Chocolatito made them miss or had them glance off his glove every time.
The pace never wavered throughout the 12 rounds and Gonzalez played the role of stalker in the bout’s entirety. In the waning seconds of the eighth round, blood was drawn above Cuadras’ right eye, thanks to a Gonzalez left hook – the most consistent shot in his arsenal on this night. The cut didn’t slow Cuadras down and, at that point, Gonzalez dealt with some swelling of his own under both eyes.
“He is very strong. My combinations were the difference tonight,” said Gonzalez, with his bruised face hidden beneath his white hat. He continued, “This victory is for Nicaragua. For the people. For God.”
There was more of the same competitive banter in the late rounds, highlighted by an 11th round that kindled the imagination of those watching. Will, heart and toughness were on display as the ebb and flow were as rhythmic as they were philharmonic. It was certainly a round to bookmark and was also followed by a final round in which each fighter gathered every morsel of his remaining energy to end on a higher note.
All three official ringside judges favored Gonzalez with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113. Gonzalez was understandably emotional as he was carried by his team so everyone in attendance could see the diminutive champion. Cuadras was also emotional in his own way but he exited the ring in a huff.
“Thanks very much to all of my Nicaraguan fans for their support. I could hear them chanting during the fight,” Gonzalez said. When asked about his hero and mentor Arguello, Chocolatito said, “I will never be better than Arguello. He is the teacher. I am his son. He will always be number one.”
In the HBO co-feature, Yoshihiro Kamegai got the redemption he sought by forcing a stoppage of Jesus Soto Karass. The junior middleweight rematch was scheduled for 10 rounds.
Their first encounter, which ended in a draw, was competitive but Kamegai was far too strong for the Mexican veteran the second time around and this fight was anything but competitive.
Kamegai, Tokyo, Japan, proved to have the quicker hands in an opening round that could be best described as a drubbing. Soto Karass, 33, wasn’t doing much offensively, especially after an early left hook to the body forced him to wince. Perhaps he was saving himself for what was expected to be a grueling slugfest for 10 rounds but Soto Karass’ surge took a while to come.
Soto Karass’ punches were lumbering when they finally came in immense bunches. He tried to pick up the pace but Kamegai could see his punches coming from a mile away and he deflected them well with his shoulder. The fight did have plenty of action but there was little to no force behind Soto Karass’ hands.
In the eighth, Soto Karass, 28-11-4 (18), was hurt by an accumulation of shots while fighting on the inside. He forced the weight of his body on Kamegai, 27-3-3 (24), and didn’t want to let go of his position. Once broken apart by referee Jack Reiss, Soto Karass retreated backward and Kamegai then stalked him with a right hand that eventually forced Soto Karass to the canvas for the knockdown.
After the eighth round ended, the fight was waved off by Soto Karass’ corner, perhaps marking the end of a journeyman/gatekeeper’s career.
Lightweight prospect Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin impressed in his unanimous decision (78-73, 79-72 twice) victory over Cesar Villarraga.
Fighting out of Cleveland, Ohio, Martin had a left jab that wouldn’t quit early in the fight. With it, Martin, 23, established a safe distance while impaling his opponent with his lead punch. A lead right cross in the fourth round sent Villarraga to the canvas in a moment of distress but the 31-year-old Colombian persevered by simply fighting fire with fire. Martin, 16-0 (9), found himself in some violent exchanges but took the punches well.
Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada got the unanimous decision victory over Nancy Franco after an eight-round junior flyweight slugfest. All three judges at ringside turned in scores of 80-72 in favor of the East Los Angeles native.
Estrada, 8-0 (1), was her typical self, switching from orthodox to southpaw regularly, and, coupled with her quick hands, she got in an offensive groove early. The 24-year-old’s left hook, in particular, was a punch that couldn’t miss Franco’s face and body and was the catalyst to her dominant success. Fighting out of Guadalajara, Mexico, Franco, 15-10-2 (4), was never visibly hurt by those consistent left hooks but her ambition to bring a fight made it an entertaining one, rather than the dominant bout described on the scorecards.
Upon the announcement of the winner, there was even more drama as the ring announcer declared Franco the winner at first before having to correct his mistake ala Steve Harvey.
In the opening bout of the card presented by K2 Promotions and Teiken Promotions, Brahmabigi Montgomery ruined the professional debut of Chazz Moleta by stopping him in the fourth and final round.
Montgomery, 2-1-1 (1), an unbelievably tall lightweight, had to deal with a pesky and excited fighter in Moleta but ultimately his long reach was too high a battle to climb. Fighting out of Kahului, Hawaii, Moleta, 0-1, was dropped with a right hand toward the end of the third round. After barely surviving the round, he got beat up in the fourth from a bevy of punches. After getting knocked down a second time, Moleta failed to find the clinch he was looking for and, after falling to his knees again, referee Zac Young put an end to the fight.