By Allan Fox, first uploaded on Boxing News 24.
HBO’s Max Kellerman doubts that Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs) will ever be the same fighter again after his 4th round knockout loss to WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs) last Saturday night in their rematch at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Kellerman’s thoughts were echoed by HBO commentator Jim Lampley, who also doesn’t Gonzalez being able to come back and be the same fighter he was before.
Chocolatito’s star power with HBO looks like it’s done now. With the way Kellerman and Lampley are talking about him while praising Rungvisai and Naoya Inoue, it looks like those are the new stars for HBO at 115. It’ll be interesting to see if HBO is able to get Inoue to agree to fight Rungvisai. That’s obviously a fight that they would like to see as soon as possible. However, Juan Francisco Estrada warned the right to fight Rungvisai last Saturday night with his 12 round unanimous decision win over Carlos Cuadras in their WBC 115 lb. title eliminator match.
It’s unclear where Chocolatito goes from here. It’s also up in the air whether HBO will televise Gonzalez’s next fight. You’d have to think they will if he faces a good opponent. If he faces a poor guy, then it’s unlikely that HBO will televise a fight of that nature. Chocolatito’s next career move will be an important one. If he decides to stay at 115, he could be throwing his career away if he gets beaten for a third straight time. I’m sure HBO would probably love the idea of having Chocolatito and Cuadras face each other in a loser’s bracket, but that would be the wrong fight for Chocolatito to make in my opinion. He’ll still be too small for Cuadras, who looked huge inside the ring last Saturday night in his fight against Estrada.
Rungvisai, 30, knocked Gonzalez unconscious with a devastating right to the head in round 4. Gonzalez had down moments before that by another hard punch to the head. I don’t think Gonzalez ever saw either of the punches that knocked him down.
“I focused during the fight on Chocolatito, the fact that he looked like a shot fighter, like he had declined overnight, maybe as a result of the first fight, and I really didn’t focus on Rungvisai’s ability and give him the due,” said Kellerman.
Chocolatito looked like he was not there mentally as he made the ring walk before the start of the fight. The look on Chocolatito’s face was that of anguish, like he was about to face an unpleasant experience. It makes you wonder whether he had the confidence to fight Rungvisai again. It looked he didn’t want to fight him. Gonzalez lost a controversial 12 round majority decision to Rungvisai in the first fight on March 18.
The common-sense thing for Gonzalez to have done after the first grueling fight with Rungvisai would have been to move back down to 112. That was a better division for Gonzalez. Even that division wasn’t a perfect one for Gonzalez, as he was at his best when he was fighting 108 from 2006 to 2012. Gonzalez was a great fighter in the light flyweight. At 112, Gonzalez was still very good, but he had tough fight against Juan Francisco Estrada that he barely won in 2012. Gonzalez won it, but it was a hard fight.
Supposedly, Gonzalez can’t make 112 any longer. If he can’t go back down to that weight class, his career is probably over, because he’s not going to beat Rungvisai no matter how many times he fights him. Moreover, I wouldn’t favor Gonzalez to beat super flyweight champions Khalid Yafai or Naoya Inoue. Those guys have too much size and power for Gonzalez.
“Sometimes a win over someone like first one against Chocolatito compounds the things that makes a fighter good,” said Kellerman. “Rungvisai had more time to train, and probably more resources and a newer belief in himself. ”The belt makes a guy 50 percent better, as they used to say in the old days, and Rungvisai looked like a champion tonight and scored a devastating knockout. But with that said, Chocolatito did not look like the same guy. Maybe that was Rungvisai, but here is an example in boxing history of an undefeated fighter having his confidence completely destroyed by a loss, and I do not believe we will ever see the Chocolatito we came to know again. I think that’s over,” said Kellerman.
Maybe Kellerman is right about Chocolatito being mentally finished by his first loss to Rungvisai. I think it was too much for Chocolatito to go into a third consecutive grueling fight after his tough fights against Carlos Cuadras and Rungvisai. Those were hard fights for Gonzalez without a break in between with some easy opponents to give him a rest. It would be like Saul Canelo Alvarez facing Gennady Golovkin in 3 straight fights. Canelo might be in bad shape is he has 2 wars with Golovkin.
Fighting him a third time would be brutal. Someone should have pulled Gonzalez aside after the Cuadras fight and advised him to move back down to 112 at all costs so he could prolong his career. Even 112 would be tough for Gonzalez, as there are some very good fighters in that weight class like Daigo Higa, Donnie Nietes, Sho Kimura and Kazuto Ioka. Gonzalez wouldn’t be outsized by them like he was by Rungvisai, but there’s no telling how he’ll perform against them after everything that he’s been through in his last 3 fights. Those were 3 consecutive wars for Gonzalez against Cuadras and Rungvisai. Gonzalez was hit a lot by Cuadras last year, and badly lumped up about the face. It was surprising that Gonzalez could fight so well after that against Rungvisai. He took an enormous amount of head shots from Rungvisai in the first fight.
“No,” said Lampley when asked if Chocolatito will ever be able come back from the loss to Rungvisai. “You’ll never be able to hear Chocolatito’s name again without someone Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. That’s the cruelty of boxing.”