With Floyd Mayweather retiring, Roman Gonzalez's stock has been soaring the the pound-for-pound market. He's now ranked number one pound-for-pound by Ring Magazine and looks primed to be number one on ESPN's rankings as well, once they update their ratings. Gonzalez attributes his success to his family and mentor - the late, great Alexis Arguello.
"I never imagined becoming the best pound-for-pound, but the struggles I had to face with my family and with Alexis inspired me. They never abandoned me during this process," said Gonzalez, who was trained by Arguello as an amateur and who remained close to the legendary champion until his death in 2009. "I never imagined being three times world champion and now being named the best in the world. All this inspires me to continue fighting with all my strength."
Gonzalez feels personally responsible for carrying on Arguello's legacy, not just because of their personal bond, but for their fellow countrymen as well.
"Today I am the only champion that Nicaragua has, and I hope to motivate young people to believe and fight, and become a motivation for them," said Gonzalez. "In Nicaragua everything is harder, and I want to be their motivation. Today, more than ever, we have to be in the gym working as hard as possible."
"One of the things that I would love to do is to have Alexis by my side," said Gonzalez, his voice softening and breaking even more than usual. "He was a great man and a great champion, who left me his humility and his legacy. And I want to continue with Arguello's legacy. I wish he was alive right now to see this."
With Gonzalez's pedigree in the ring, he looks like he can be a source of pride for the Nicaraguan people for many years to come. The biggest question is, will there be another great in or around his weight class to really get the buzz going to make him a mainstream attraction? Gonzalez looks like he'll be fighting alongside Gennady Golovkin for the time being, so that will gain him some attention, but to win the hearts and minds of the boxing audience at large, he'll probably need that truly worthy adversary that people can link to his name.