Should Chocolatito Try For Title in Fifth Weight Class



Should Chocolatito Try For Title in Fifth Weight Class

Pondering Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez, and thinking whether fair or unfair, the finale of a fighter's career can sometimes be the lasting image that stays with fans.

Being able to leave on your terms or with one last excellent performance can be of the utmost importance to those that choose to step into the squared circle.

One of boxing's few genuinely great active fighters, Roman “Chocoaltito” Gonzalez, finds himself in the final chapter of his storied career.


Living legend, y’all

There have been 21 four-division champions throughout boxing history, with Gonzalez being just one of three that has held titles at 105, 108, 112, and 115 pounds.

This weekend one of the other fighters who has also won titles in those divisions, Kazuto Ioka, will be facing Joshua Franco in a rematch for the WBA super flyweight title.

Things To Consider For Chocolatito

When navigating the options of which direction to take for what could be the swan song of his career, Gonzalez has a few variables to consider.

At 36, moving back down in weight usually isn't an intelligent proposition that has yielded positive results for aging fighters.

Recently, Nonito Donaire's venture back down to bantamweight mainly proved worthwhile, as he won two more world titles and made it to the finals in the World Boxing Super Series tournament.

Before his third battle with rival Juan Francisco Estrada in December 2022, Gonzalez dominated WBC flyweight champion, Julio Cesar Martinez.

He would likely be favored over all the champions at 112, with only Jesse Rodriguez viewed as a 50-50 bout.

The waters at super flyweight are still treacherous, with Junto Nakatani now holding a title in the weight class.

If Ioka were to come out victorious against Franco, a match in Japan between him and Gonzalez could be an event in the country and is still more than winnable for the Nicaraguan.

Also, against Argentina's Fernando Martinez, who carries the IBF strap for the division, Gonzalez would find himself the betting favorite by most.

Instead of staying at the same weight or moving down, another option for Chocolatito to further enhance his legacy is to look above at bantamweight.


Is bantamweight a bridge too far?

Despite the numerous examples of fighters jumping up in weight to win just one title only to leave the division quickly, there have only been five male fighters who have won titles in five separate weight classes.

The names on that list are generational talents that garnered mainstream notoriety. And all are considered by most to be all-time greats.

Those fighters include Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao.

118 Or Bust?

“Who knows, maybe I can even go on to win a title at 118 pounds and become a five-division champion,” Gonzalez said to in early 2022.

“We'll have to see. We're not at that point in my career and I'm still thinking about stuff like that. Time will tell.”

The former undisputed champion at bantamweight, Naoya Inoue, vacated all four of his titles when he decided to move up to super bantamweight.

He will be challenging unified champion Stephen Fulton later this summer.

Two of his former titles now belong in the hands of his younger brother Takuma Inoue and Australia's Jason Moloney. Much like Ioka, Inoue could make for a massive fight in Japan, but it is with Moloney that Gonzalez's high-volume pressure style would best serve him.

“You don't see fighters being able to throw combination after combination, while they're getting hit, with great accuracy and power,” Hall-of-Famer Timothy Bradley said to ESPN in 2022. “Chocolatito is the only guy I know who can do it like that.”

Certainly, Gonzalez isn't the dynamo he was in his prime when he first made headlines becoming nationally known after being featured on HBO.

In his most recent battle with Estrada in Gonzalez's previous bout, the four-division champion was competitive and valiant.

Roman Gonzalez picked apart Julio Cesar Martinez i an impressive display of skills at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom. Chocolatito Gonzalez delivers

Roman Gonzalez picked apart Julio Cesar Martinez in an impressive display of skills at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

With an earlier start and few swing rounds going his way, he could have easily had his hands raised against his Mexican rival. The second encounter with Estrada broke Compubox records, and in the eyes of most observers, Gonzalez should have been awarded the victory.

Questions Abound, Chocolatito is 36

But some questions surround Gonzalez. Did he give his last great performance in that second fight with Estrada? Does he still have the ability to start early and win close rounds convincingly in the eyes of a judge?

It isn't to say that Moloney would be an easy scalp for Gonzalez. It could be that bantamweight is too far for him to still be effective. But his showings since being written off after his losses to Rungvisai in 2017 have veered from good to outstanding.

He proved naysayers wrong when he stopped Khalid Yafai in 2020, earning the WBA super flyweight title, and then dominated a world champion and top contender in Julio Cesar Martinez and Israel Gonzalez. Lastly, in the eyes of a majority of fans, he should be 2-1 in his series of fights against Estrada.

More than most fighters, Gonzalez's contributions to the fighters below bantamweight have been enormous.

Inside the ring, he has always delivered in being part of a plethora of memorable match-ups while consistently showcasing an elite skill level of technique in punch variety, placement, and timing while always being the aggressor.

His actions in the squared circle translated to more opportunities for his contemporaries in the lower-weight classes. If he had failed and been a flop when he got his chance to be seen by a wider audience, there may still not be a market for those at super flyweight and below in the United States.


“Chocolatito has paved the way for the smaller guys to be in mega fights and bridged the pay gap between the divisions,” said Matchroom Boxing's Eddie Hearn to ESPN.

“The reality is that lighter weights tend to give us much better all-action fights, but without the exposure there is no opportunity to showcase this. Chocolatito gained exposure through major platforms that educated the audience in terms of the excitement of the smaller divisions.”

Rarely do fighters go out on their own terms in boxing. It's often better for those that step into the ring to leave the sport early with their skills intact rather than be forced out of the sport with a barrage of punches.

Gonzalez may be one second too slow now for the elite in the view of pundits. And no longer the pound-for-pound fighter of yesteryear.

Still, an attempt to earn a title in a fifth division to join only a handful is something that he has earned to at least try. And if he does make that attempt, he could add another piece of history to his journey.

A fight against Jason Moloney could make that happen.