Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez will look to regain world title in rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

Boxing


Former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez will have his chance to exact revenge and set up potential bigger business.

Gonzalez will look to regain his junior bantamweight world title in a rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on Sept. 9 (HBO, 10:15 p.m. ET/PT) in the main event of a loaded all-junior bantamweight tripleheader on “Boxing After Dark.” The site has not been determined, but the card will take place in either Southern California or Las Vegas, K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler told ESPN on Saturday.

The card will also feature the long-awaited United States debut of junior bantamweight titlist and Japanese star Naoya “Monster” Inoue in a prelude to a possible showdown with Gonzalez that has been talked about for the past few years. The 24-year-old Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs) will defend his 115-pound belt against Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9 KOs), 30, of Cleveland, in the co-feature.

In the opening bout, former titlist Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1, 27 KOs), 28, of Mexico, will face countryman and former unified flyweight world titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2, 25 KOs), 27, in a world title eliminator to become the mandatory challenger for the main event winner.

“We’re very excited to present this fantastic tripleheader featuring the top five (junior bantamweights) in the world,” Loeffler said. “With the great history of memorable bouts combined with the extraordinary talents of these six fighters in these two world championship fights, along with the world title eliminator, the fans will truly be the winners of this event.”

Gonzalez, the only fighter from Nicaragua to win world titles in four weight classes, lost his junior bantamweight belt — and his status as the widely recognized pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the world — to Thailand’s Sor Rungvisai on March 18 on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York.

It was a helacious, bloody slugfest and a contender for the fight of the year, but Gonzalez, who got knocked down in the first round and suffered two bad cuts because of accidental head butts, lost a majority decision by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 113-113. However, virtually everyone at ringside had Gonzalez as the clear winner of the dramatic and action-packed fight.

Due to the controversial nature of the result, Gonzalez, 29, petitioned the WBC to order a rematch and it did.

“I’m ready to go back into battle and reclaim by WBC championship from Sor Rungvisai on Sept. 9,” Gonzalez said. “I know what I have to do to become victorious and with God’s help I will be champion once again.” Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw, is in his second junior bantamweight title reign and said while he respects Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) he plans to keep the belt.

“I’m honored to share the ring again and defend the title against Roman Gonzalez. He is a legend and the best fighter I have faced,” Sor Rungvisai said. “I’m training hard to be the winner of this rematch. Boxing fans around the world will get to see another great fight between us, and I will win and take the WBC world championship title back for everyone in Thailand.”

Inoue, who has won titles in two weight classes, retained his version of the junior bantamweight title for the fifth time on May 21 in Tokyo by blasting through mandatory challenger Ricardo Rodriguez in a one-sided, third-round knockout with the intent to next fight in the United States in an attempt to build his fan base as well as to a showdown with Gonzalez. Gonzalez has fought many times in Japan and they are both well-known there.

“It’s been my dream to fight in the United States and I’m very excited to be defending my title against Antonio Nieves on Sept 9,” Inoue said. “I look forward to putting on a great performance for the fans.” Nieves is coming off a 10-round split decision loss to unbeaten Nikolai Potapov on March 10 and will be a heavy underdog.

“I’m very excited to face Naoya Inoue for the title,” Nieves said. “This is my first world title opportunity and I’m very grateful to HBO, Tom Loeffler and (manager) Tim VanNewhouse for making this possible.”

Cuadras lost his world title to Gonzalez in a tremendous battle in September and bounced back with a 10-round decision over David Carmona on the March 18 card. Now he will face Estrada with a chance to fight for the title again on the line.

“I can’t wait to get back in the ring on Sept. 9 against Juan Estrada. He’s a very tough fighter but I will be victorious and put on a show for the fans,” he said. “Then I want a fight with whoever is the champion — ‘Chocolatito’ or Sor Rungvisai — to get my belt back.”

In 2012, Estrada lost an action-packed decision to Gonzalez in a challenge for his junior flyweight title. They have both moved up the scale since and Estrada has not lost. He has won nine fights in a row, including winning two flyweight world titles.

“Carlos Cuadras is a great (former) champion and we will have a great fight but he is just the first step towards me becoming the best (junior bantamweight) in the world,” Estrada said. “See you Sept. 9.”



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