Just like Ward vs Gatti, Morales vs Barrera and Holyfield vs Bowe before them, Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada cemented their place among boxing’s great rivalries with a bona fide Fight of the Year contender at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday night.
A rematch of their 2012 thriller, itself a Fight of the Year nominee that Gonzalez won, Estrada was able to gain revenge over his Nicaraguan foe with a split decision win by scores of 117-111, 115-113 and 113-115 to unify the WBA and WBC super flyweight belts.
In truth, the fight could have gone either way (we scored it a 114-114 draw) and some of the most tightly-contested rounds were nigh on impossible to score accurately. Gonzalez, actually edged Estrada in every category bar body punches, according to Compubox. The score of 117-111, however, was a complete farce and leaves a bit of a sour taste in what was otherwise a wonderful night of boxing.
It was a battle between two of the best fighters in recent histories - Gonzalez already a guaranteed future Hall of Famer - will now undoubtedly be joined by Estrada as soon as he becomes eligible.
The fight leaves the rivalry at one win per-fighter, setting up a mouthwatering trilogy match in the near future but Gonzalez might have to wait for his opportunity with Estrada’s victory meaning he’s in line to face a new mandatory, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Rungvisai won his own fight the night before, and with the tally between him and Estrada currently at 1-1, it’s yet another unbelievable fight that could materialise over the next twelve months. Put simply, if we get either Gonzalez vs Estrada III or Rungvisai vs Estrada III this year, we’re in for a real treat.
“Rungvisai is the mandatory so I’ll look at that, but I’ll take a third fight any day with Chocolatito,” Estrada said after the fight.
Elsewhere on the card in Texas, Jessica McCaskill proved her shock win over Cecilia Braekhus to become the undisputed welterweight champion last year was no fluke as she beat her for a second time in seven months with a unanimous decision victory by scores of 110-89, 99-90 and 98-91.
It’s been a meteoric rise for McCaskill, a former financial analyst, and her career could be about to explode into the mainstream with fights against Katie Taylor and the history-making Claressa Shields potential bouts further down the line.
"If Katie Taylor is the next one, let's go," McCaskill told DAZN. "If Claressa wants to come down to 147[lbs] and see if she can make the weight. Like you said, we've got a lot of options."