Sweet Like Chocolatito: The Perfect Cure For Boxing's Bitterness

The 34-year-old warrior reminds us all why this sport is so much fun
15:00, 07 Mar 2022

Boxing can be a bitter place. For over a week now, this bitterness has reigned over the sport as fans, fighters and everyone in between has spilled bile over Josh Taylor being awarded a split decision win over Jack Catterall. So how do you counteract bitterness? With something sweet. This weekend, that sweetness came in the form of a 12-round portion of ‘Chocolatito’.

Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez reminded us all why he is one of this era’s greatest fighters by dismantling WBC flyweight boss Julio Cesar Martinez in a non-title super-flyweight clash. The former pound-for-pound king, before countrymen Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez took up permanent residence in that slot, provided us all with a timely reminder of the fighter that has dazzled us for 17 years. 

It is unbelievable to note in hindsight that some observers had called on Gonzalez to retire before this fight. It was feared that at 34, the super-flyweight superstar was past his best. While it is true that smaller fighters often peak younger than their heavier counterparts, there was no evidence of slippage in Saturday’s performance. The only thing that slipped was the body of ‘Chocolatito’ as he evaded the artillery of Martinez. 

‘Chocolatito’ was coming off a year-long lay-off since losing his WBA super-flyweight gold to rival Juan Francisco Estrada on a controversial split decision. Their classic battle was a rematch from a scorching 2012 bout between the pair. Originally, the trilogy fight was supposed to take place last Saturday. However, Estrada was forced to withdraw with COVID-19. Martinez bravely took the fight, despite it being his first bout at the weight. A quality world champion in his own right, not many fighters in his position would have taken on one of this generation’s best on six weeks notice. 

After showing us he has not lost a step, ‘Chocolatito’ can continue giving us reasons to be cheerful about this oft-frustrating sport. There are a number of appetising options out there for one of the most exciting fighters in the sport.

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A move to a fifth weight class is not among them. When asked at the post-fight press conference about a fight with terrifying bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue, ‘Chocolatito’ responded, “I don’t think I would like to go to 118 pounds. That’s not really my goal.” As a fighter that started at minimumweight, this is understandable and probably wise. 

Revenge against Estrada is understood to be top of Gonzalez’s list of priorities. Fans were more than ready to watch another 12 rounds between the pair, after the thrilling 24 they have already shared. Their previous bout was close enough to warrant it too, with the fighters and fans both deserving a clear and conclusive victor.

Eddie Hearn, who promotes ‘Chocolatito’, has suggested Jesse Rodriguez as another potential big fight. Both men are part of the Matchroom stable, making a clash between Gonzalez and the unbeaten WBC super-flyweight champion easy to organise. Such a bout would be a fascinating meeting of the generations, with 34-year-old ‘Chocolatitio’ meeting 22-year-old Gonzalez. It has been suggested ‘Bam’ can follow in the footsteps of the veteran and make this division his own. Who better to test those ambitions than Roman Gonzalez.

If you haven’t already, put down your keyboard and stop arguing over dodgy decisions or whether or not a fighter is a “fraud” for a second. Put on the ‘Chocolatito’ fight from last weekend and allow yourself to fall in love with boxing again. For all the controversy and disillusionment that often plagues this most unusual sport, at its best it can be pure bliss. And with Gonzalez seeming to have plenty more in the tank, we could have more blissful nights ahead.

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