I recall my feelings well. When Michael Buffer read the scorecards from Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai at Madison Square Garden back in March, I was outraged. The New York judges had called it wrong and Chocolatito was title-less and no longer undefeated.
Angry, I scribbled this piece http://nyfights.wpengine.com/
Thankfully the rematch has been agreed and Chocolatito will have the opportunity to regain his title on September 9 at the StubHub Center just outside Los Angeles. The fact that this fight tops a strong card at a stadium which always seems to bring the best out of the boxers is an added bonus and makes my decision to attend seem like a well calculated one.
The card, titled “Superfly,” will see most of the globe’s top talent at 115lbs in action. The semi-final features Japanese megastar Naoya “Monster” Inoue making his US debut against Antonio Nieves and in what could be the fight of the night former Chocolatito victims Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada will go to war in the scheduled TV opener.
I have often sat at home watching boxing from the delightful looking outdoor Southern California setting hoping that one day I would have an opportunity to go there in person. Usually the TV coverage begins just as the California sun is setting and the location looks perfect.
Adding to the allure of StubHub Center (formerly Home Depot Center) is the frequency with which classic fights seem to occur there. From the two battles between Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez in 2007 and 2008 up to Bradley v Provodnikov in 2013 and last year’s rumble between Orlando Salido and Francisco Vargas, the venue seems to inspire the warriors we pay to see perform in the ring. Oh yes, there always seems to be spectacular action inside the ropes at StubHub.
The strong card combined with the chance to watch boxing in an arena I have long wanted to visit had me pricing flights. I double checked that my passport was still in date and purchased a flight to LAX.
But enough about my travel itinerary and fight attendance. Let’s take a look at the main event in some more detail.
Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, also known as Wisaksil Wangek, (43-4-1, 39KOs) really surprised all but a very small number of hardcore fans with his showing in New York. Although for me he clearly lost the fight he was competitive and caused Gonzalez problems especially in the early part of the contest. The southpaw has a rugged fighting style. He is aggressive and in your face. His fondness for using the street fighting tactic of headbutting is verging on the ridiculous but in a fight you get away with what you can.
Now in possession of the WBC 115lb world title, Rungvisai is not going to give the belt up easily. The Thai boxer is in a position to further enhance his reputation. A conclusive victory over Gonzalez will grant him future pay days and, if this new found respect for the lower weight classes from TV executives continues, exposure on future big promotions in America.
Roman Gonzalez (46-1-0, 38KOs), of Nicaragua, is still the best boxer in the world. If you read my articles regularly you will be aware of the fact that he is my current favourite fighter so forgive my indulgence here.
The four weight world champion knows that he faces a hard night if he wants to regain his title at super-flyweight. News has recently come to light that Chocolatito has made a change to his team. Out has gone Wilmer Hernandez and it appears that Sendai Tanaka of Japan now has the honour of being Gonzalez’s head trainer.
It seems like Gonzalez is leaving no stone unturned as he looks to avenge his only loss as a professional. It will be interesting to see if he makes any adjustments to his boxing style.
Now aged 30 the diminutive boxer is outgunned in all departments up in the #Superfly (sorry couldn’t resist) division. Smaller, lighter and less powerful, Chocolatito needs all of his boxing ability and speed to prosper at 115lbs. His offense looks great but unfortunately against these larger, stronger fighters it doesn’t quite have the same effect. Is there a chance that Roman becomes more of a back-foot, patient fighter in this rematch?
One thing definitely in Gonzalez’s favour is the fact that Rungvisai no longer has the advantage of being a slightly unknown quantity. After their brawl in New York, Gonzalez now knows what to expect from the Thai. Non-stop aggression, borderline illegal tactics and hard shots, especially to the body, all lie in wait for the Nicaraguan hero on September 9.
I am confident that the necessary adjustments, to ensure a clear victory, will have been made and that Chocolatito will once again be the WBC super-flyweight world champion at the end of the night.
It promises to be a memorable night at the fights on America’s West coast. I am going to enjoy every second of it because, after this trip, it may be a considerable amount of time before my passport gets to see the light of day again.
As the early evening California sun begins to set I will be in my seat looking forward to watching the world’s best at 115lbs do their thing. It will come as no surprise that this time, as Michael Buffer is announcing the outcome of the main event, I will be hoping that Chocolatito is the name being shouted out.