By Charles Jay
You may get a lot of opinions as to who the best fighter in the world is – “pound for pound” – but one fighter who has as strong a claim as anybody is perhaps unknown to the general public. His name is Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, and he will be in action on Saturday night against Carlos Cuadras as he goes after a championship in a fourth different weight division. The fight, which is for the WBC super flyweight (115-pound) title, will take place at the Forum in Inglewood, CA and receives live broadcast coverage on HBO. It will be preceded by a replay of the middleweight championship fight between Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook, which took place earlier in the day, and if you haven’t seen that yet, we won’t spoil it for you.
Gonzalez, who hails from Managua, Nicaragua, comes into this fight with a record of 45-0, with 38 knockouts, and he has been a world champion since September 2008, when he captured the WBA Minimumweight (105-pound) title. His opponent, Cuadras, is an undefeated (35-0-1, 27 KO’s) resident of Mexico City and has made nine title defenses at that weight. So he is the guy who is more “natural” fighting at 115. But those who have seen both of them on tape would hardly disagree on which fighter has more talent.
In the boxing betting odds posted on this fight by the people at America’s Bookie, Gonzalez is the clear favorite:
12 Rounds – WBC Super Flyweight Title
Forum – Inglewood, CA
Roman Gonzalez -775
Carlos Cuadras +475
Over 9.5 Rounds -175
Under 9.5 Rounds +145
There is a contrast in styles here, to be certain. Cuadras, the champion here and the contestant who may have a lot of support among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles, is somewhat unorthodox in his style. He pops in and out, comes at odd angles, and counts quickness among his attributes.
I expect that he will be on the move from the opening bell, and in attempt to make himself elusive and to confuse Gonzalez. Of course, he might surprise me and try to take advantage of his “edge” in size (he is also an inch taller) to stand there and fight with Chocolatito.
But one thing you can count on with Gonzalez is that if Cuadras is going to move – and not out-and-out run – he is going to be able to cut the ring off. He does this about as good as anyone I have seen in the game today, and his footwork is pretty close to perfect. Gonzalez is almost never off-balance out there, and that winds up being in contrast to his opponent, who often puts himself out of position, not only when he throws his punches (which are sometimes telegraphed) but also when someone is coming at him with aggressive offense.
I am not a big fan of Cuadras’ defense; in fact, for a fighter who has gotten through as many fights as he has undefeated, he is actually pretty easy to hit. And that is going to make him vulnerable to precision puncher like Gonzalez, who may not be as “busy” as Cuadras, especially in the early rounds, but will almost certainly land the punches that are more meaningful over the long haul in this fight.
Cuadras may have 27 wins inside the distance, and he possesses the kind of jab that potentially could keep Gonzalez at arm’s length, but he does not throw that enough. And he throws way too many arm punches. I don’t see his power having a real effect on Gonzalez.
In other words, I don’t see any substantial advantages at all here for the champion; at least nothing that would convince me he could win the fight, so I am on board, in a small way, with the -775 price on the challenger. But another thing we can be almost certain of with Gonzalez is that he is a patient fighter. I would doubt he’d come right out and look for a knockout, and I’m not sure he could get one.
I think his approach will be to “chop down the tree,” so to speak, exploiting all his edges over the course of time to wear this opponent down. I see a clear decision win or a late-round TKO for the young man whose mentor was Alexis Arguello and may one day surpass Arguello as the greatest Nicaraguan fighter ever, as he attempts to do what Arguello never could win- a world title i a fourth different weight class. In the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge, we are on the favorite, as well as the -175 price that this bout will go over 9.5 rounds.