Despite an appeal from mandatory challenger Andrew Moloney, WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai is officially set to defend his title against former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez on February 29th, joining the Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas DAZN card in Frisco, TX.
Whoever leaves with the belt must then “face Moloney as a mandatory defense within 120 days of said bout.” This apparently wasn’t good enough for Moloney’s lawyer, whose screed includes this rather tasteless assertion:
It would be an insult to a country whose sole boxing champion is Andrew Moloney at a time when Australia is beset by terrible tragedy due to unprecedented wildfires.
Yafai (26-0, 15 KO) faces his stiffest test to date as WBA champion and his first fight against a notable foe since he claimed the belt from an overweight Luis Concepcion in 2016. He fought just once in 2019, taking a wide decision over Norbelto Jimenez, but that’s not entirely his fault; he’s twice been booked to face WBC champ Juan Francisco Estrada in a unification, only for “El Gallo’s” hand issues to force delays.
“I wanted the biggest possible fight available and after the Juan Francisco Estrada unification fell through, I had the opportunity to fight ‘Chocolatito,’ the former pound for pound king,” Yafai said. “Chocolatito is someone that I have idolized as I worked my way up to become world champion myself, so it doesn’t get much bigger than this and it will bring out the best in me. I can’t wait, it is a case of when idols become rivals and I am so honored to share the ring with him but also show the world that I am an elite world champion.”
Following his second loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KO) spent a year on the sidelines before smashing Moises Fuentes on the Canelo-Golovkin II undercard. A subsequent knee injury kept him out for another 15 months, after which he returned last month to knock out designated victim Diomel Diocos in Yokohama.
“God has responded to my prayers once again. I want to thank God and (promoter) Teiken foremost. Also, the champion, Kal Yafai for giving me the opportunity to fight for the championship once again,” Gonzalez said. “I know this will be a very hard fight, but it will be worthy of all our efforts and determination.”
The fight joins another excellent title bout in Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Jay Harris on the undercard. It ain’t Superfly, but it’s scratching that same itch.