This weekend, BoxNation subscribers get to savour the heir to Floyd Mayweather as boxing’s pound-for-pound practitioner ....and his name might not be Gennady Golovkin!
Three weight Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez has already inherited the ‘Money’ man’s mythical No.1 mantle in the US with both Ring magazine and the influential ESPN network and, at his present accelerated advancement, the 5ft 3in Latin atom is primed to smash Mayweather and Marciano’s fabled 49-0 inside the next two years.
Born into extreme poverty in Managua, ‘Chocolalito’s’ great grandfather, granddad and uncle all laced up, whilst father Luis Alberto was a two-time national champion who remains a key cog in his back-up team today.
From the age of seven, our Roman soldier was honing his craft by pummelling a sand filled plastic milk bag draped from the branch of a guayaba tree.
Mentored by national treasure Alexis Arguello, the Hall of Fame three weight world champion of the 1970s and 80s, Gonzalez stormed to 88 successive wins prior to vaulting to pro boxing a month after his 18th birthday.
The 5ft 3in terror was still only 21 when, in his 21st outing, he pummelled Japan’s Yutaka Niida in Kanagawa to hoover up the 7st 7lb WBA minimum weight title. The WBA light-fly and WBC flyweight crowns followed in 2011 and 2014 respectively.
A dozen world championship spats have been split equally between Mexico, Japan – he is already revered in both – plus the USA. Eight of his 12 title opponents failed to finish and his daunting 43-0 CV already contains the scalps of seven world champions.
In terms of style and personality, the 28 year old is the complete antithesis of Mayweather – and perhaps that is why many ‘in the know’ are so eager to embrace him. A devout Christian, the father of two’s talent is surpassed only by his humility and, if he lacks some of the Grand Rapids braggart’s evasive instincts, he compensates with greater flair and firepower.
While the now 38 year old ‘Money’ man’s competitive juices are clearly starting to wane, ‘Chocolalito’ is intent on hunting prey in the sports lightest categories like a bull shark. He talks only of unification and expanding his hegemony in divisions further north.
Physically he boasts a rock chin and an engine honed by daily 12 km hill runs whilst in camp. Thus far his psyche has proven unbreakable.
While his 86% kayo ratio owes more to accumulation than obliteration, he suffocates space whilst advancing behind a high guard, attacks the whole target and has shown himself a calm, clinical executioner once the opposition is wounded.
Technically, the little master refuses to adhere to the conventions of the coaching manual; routinely starting his two-fisted blitzes with lead uppercuts and assorted right hands; sacrilege to the purists!
Above all, he has a surfeit of the innate attributes which are most difficult to acquire through coaching but with which all the very greatest are blessed; balance, co-ordination, precision, judgement of distance.
The one ingredient sadly lacking is profile. Now managed by ex attorney Carlos Blandon and promoted by Teiken Promotions in Japan he is already lauded in Asia and Central America but remains the best kept secret in a sport that habitually discriminates against non English speakers and its smallest participants.
In terms of both ability and attainment, the diminutive destroyer dwarfs the best the US can currently offer – such as Bradley, Ward, Crawford, Thurman and Garcia. Yet in a poll conducted by Ring magazine earlier this year, just one of 15 so called ‘experts’ listed Gonzalez among their top five active fighters?!
The US press corps finally hopped on board following his most recent gig, a breathtaking two round rinsing of respected Mexican Edgar Sosa at California’s Inglewood Forum in May.
That demolition on the undercard of P4P rival Gennady Golovkin’s rout of Willie Munroe Jr was screened live by HBO in the US, BoxNation in the UK and transmitted to 120 countries worldwide. The pair go head-to-head again on Saturday when Gonzalez makes his east coast debut against ‘Hawaiian Punch’ Brian Viloria, a former Olympian and four time world champion, in New York.
With due respect to Mssrs Alvarez, Rigondeaux and Kovalev, the sport’s premier prizefighter will be featuring between the ropes at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Let the fight fans anoint their new messiah.