Roman Gonzalez was a pound-for-pound boxing great, but two losses in a row had people thinking he was done. He didn’t look that way against Khalid Yafai.
One upon a time not long ago, Roman Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KOs), better known as “Chocolatito,” was one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. Back to back losses against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai changed that. He showed that there’s something left in the tank against Khalid Yafai (26-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday, Feb. 29.
The super flyweight division is often overlooked, but Gonzalez is one of the reasons that fans pay attention to it. His action style and penchant for producing chaos in the ring made him a legend. Rungviasi stole his thunder in 2017 by stopping him in round 4, but Gonzalez looked like the “Chocolatito” of old against WBA champion Yafai.
Yafai’s style is that of a pure boxer, but he tried to push around the smaller Gonzalez from the first round on. That proved to be a massive mistake. Outside of round 1, it was hard to find another round to award to Yafai.
Little by little, Gonzalez worked himself into a smooth, relaxed rhythm. By round 2, Gonzalez showed that he was the better inside fighter. Yafai and Gonzalez fought head to head, and Gonzalez scored with several fast combinations.
Yafai attempted to pressure Gonzalez, but the tide turned around round 5. Gonzalez started to attack at will and had Yafai on his back foot for the rest of the bout. His hands were fast, fluid, and constantly moving. He outworked Yafai, who wilted over time.
In round 6, Gonzalez was cut near his right eye from a clash of heads, but it was a small cut, and it didn’t bother him.
In round 8, Yafai’s body language was concerning. Gonzalez’s punches landed with more regularity, and Yafai was exhausted. He hit the canvas during a barrage of punches from Gonzalez, although there wasn’t a clear punch that sent him down. Yafai collapsed from Gonzalez’s building pressure.
Early in round 9, Gonzalez slipped in a straight right to Yafai’s jaw that dropped him. Yafai was knocked senseless but struggled to his feet. He was unsteady and unable to continue. Referee Luis Pabon saw enough and stopped the bout.
Gonzalez looked like vintage “Chocolatito.” Just when he looked like a faded former champion, he proved that he’s still a top-tier boxer. His talent is undeniable, and Gonzalez will be a factor at super flyweight for the future.
During the post-fight interview, Gonzalez said, “I have God’s strength, and God gave me my title back. I hope everyone can have the same blessing that I received tonight. You just have to give your life to God and ask for it.”
When asked if he lost faith in himself after back to back losses in 2017, Gonzalez offered an honest answer.
“When I lost, yes,” said Gonzalez. “But thank God that I have a good team around me that brought me back.”
Gonzalez is the WBA super flyweight champion against all the odds. He has added to his legacy and appears to have more to write in the history books.