The rumors of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez’ demise were, in fact, greatly exaggerated. The four-division champion won another world title tonight, ripping the WBA junior bantamweight title from previously undefeated Kal Yafai via ninth round knockout.
Gonzlaez (49-2, 41 KO) and Yafai (26-1, 15 KO) were going at it fairly evenly for a few rounds, but Yafai found himself overwhelmed by the offensive output and intense workrate of the Nicaraguan Hall of Famer-to-be, and Gonzalez was able to beat him up as the fight wore on.
Yafai wound up looking tired, beaten up, and drained by the middle rounds, as Gonzalez was relentless in his attack, looking as sharp and clever as ever. Yafai went down late in the eighth round, and was knocked down and out early in the ninth, returning Gonzalez back to the top with yet another belt around his waist in what wound up a pretty dominant return to high-level form for the 32-year-old veteran.
“He surprised me wanting to fight inside, but I was ready to go,” Gonzalez said after the fight. “He moves a lot usually, but he was standing there for me. I want to try to unify some titles.”
As for unification, the other titleholders at 115 are Juan Francisco Estrada, Jerwin Ancajas, and Kazuto Ioka, all of whom would make for great fights for Gonzalez. The biggest of them would be a rematch with Estrada, whom Gonzalez beat at junior flyweight way back in 2012. Estrada has long wanted that rematch, but it’s never happened. It might now, and I think everyone would love to see it.
For Yafai, this is a pretty harsh reality check. The 30-year-old from Birmingham, England, had held the WBA belt since 2016, but it was a fairly forgettable reign with a lot of defenses against mid-level sort of opposition. Stepping up against a top fighter for the first time, he was outclassed, and it’s back to the drawing board for him.