Howdy folks. Today I’d like to discuss some potential matchups for a man who certainly has a strong argument for a call to Canastota.
Roman Gonzalez is a highly skilled fighter, who is one of the more interesting guys I have watched over the past decade. He has a compact, tight high guard, who parries punches fairly well. He throws beautifully crisp punches and great combinations, with a high work rate and big power. He mixes up his head shots and body punches, unlike most boxers out there. He has an awesome jab, short hooks and uppercuts that lift your head like a rock’em sock’em robot. I love watching his fluid body motion when he throws each punch. It is exactly what you try and teach the fighters when you train them. Each punch comes off so naturally from Roman and is accompanied by smooth body motion.
Chocolatito has fought from 105 pounds up to 115 pounds and technically he has won a title in four different weight classes. Although many of these super/junior divisions don’t mean a whole lot to many of us, it is a “technicality”.
Gonzalez is certainly more likely to succeed at a lower weight, however, I can’t see him moving back down, considering that he is getting older and is past his best. The other issue with moving down is the marketing. There are not many names that you can strongly consider to matchup with Gonzalez that would be worth the risk and not get a decent reward. The bigger names and paydays are definitely either at his current weight, or one weight class above (118). These bouts that I have put together for him are based on recognition and these men being able to meet at either one of the weight classes. Anybody who knows boxing understands that three pounds is nothing significant to gain or lose, so let’s not make ridiculous excuses as to why these assortments of dream matchups can’t happen.
This is a legacy matchup and would provide great entertainment. Both men are potential future Hall of Famers and there is no better way to try and cement your stake in Canastota then to pair two of the better boxers around these lower weight classes from their era. They are both still in line for an opportunity to fight for a championship at one of these weight classes. Win or lose, they both are still good competition for any of the men who are at the top of either 115 or 118. Roman Gonzalez is not at his best, yet still has power and that is usually the last thing to go for a fighter. Nietes would probably outbox Gonzalez at this point in their respective careers, but Roman is a man who puts a lot of pressure and a lot of punches on his opposition.
That is what will provide the entertainment and those are the questions to be answered for how this bout would play out. Can Nietes stick and move the entire night, or does Gonzalez finally break Donnie down. This can be setup as a great undercard match for a big fight like GGG vs Canelo 3, if it happened, or it would be a great headliner in many different areas of the world, such as the Philippines, Nicaragua, China, or even a U.S. city like Las Vegas.
Kal Yafai is a good boxer, but not a great one. Although he owns a silly “title”, he is no champion. Yafai needs to step up his competition and this would provide that. This is not as risky for Kal now as it would have been a few years back. He is naturally the bigger man and Gonzalez is a little shop worn. The advantages for Roman are that, although Khalid is naturally thicker than Roman, Yafai is still only 5’4″, so he is only about an inch taller than Gonzalez. I like this risk for reward for Roman because Kal comes forward, but he’s not a big puncher. That plays into Roman’s hands. Yafai also currently holds the WBA title (for anybody who cares). If Chocolatito can win, then he sets himself up for bigger names and bigger paydays.
Regardless of the unnecessary title that Yafai holds, both men are top-5-ish, or top-10-ish contenders at super flyweight. This would be a good headliner in the U.K., or possibly New York.
Kazuto Ioka is a good boxer. He has many quality traits, which is why he is currently one of the top competitors in the super fly division. He boxes well, has a solid jab, moves decently and has good defense. Ioka has fought good opposition so far, including Donnie Nietes, Juan Reveco twice, McWilliams Arroyo, Felix Alvarado, Amnat Ruenroeng and Aston Palicte. He is currently the WBO titlist and legitimately a top-5-type contender. I like this matchup because it would put a good name on each man’s resume and could be a fairly entertaining fight. Ioka moves but not enough to not allow Gonzalez to get some punches in and that would be something to wonder about.
Kazuto Ioka and Khalid Yafai are two of the weaker punchers near the top 5, which is what Roman needs. This would be more favorable for Gonzalez to succeed, compared to a bout against guys like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, or Juan Estrada. Not to mention he has already defeated Estrada once and lost to Rungvisai twice. At this stage in his career, those two men would be better off avoided for now, especially after seeing the brutal knockout he received from Rungvisai the second time around.
The bout between these two would suit perfectly in Japan, considering that Ioka is from there and Gonzalez has trained there and is promoted by Teiken, a Japanese based company.
An old monster, against a new monster. Naoya Inoue is the top bantamweight right now and currently holds the IBF title. Inoue is a beast of a small man who is on a path of destruction. If Gonzalez wants to fight the biggest names, make the most money and make an attempt to be the best at one more weight class, then this is the perfect opportunity. Gonzalez could go after several of the other 118-pounders, but I think it would be a tough road no matter which one he picks. Donaire is much bigger and taller and can hit hard. Tete poses the same issues, as he is five inches taller than Roman. Luis Nery can barely make weight, so he would be a big risk. Oubaali is kind of big, as well. Inoue is 5’5″, so he is an easier size to deal with than the others.
Inoue would want to stay at distance and try to hit Roman at range with one of those big shots. Gonzalez would need to try and get inside and work to break him down with those combination punches. Inoue is a huge risk, but the best reward. Win or lose it’s a great name for both men to have on their resumes. Especially Chocolatito if he can pull off the upset. This would be perfect in Japan.
I really like Ryan Burnett. He is a very skilled boxer with good foot movement, good sense of range and quick decisive punches. He is certainly a top-level operator who has a chance to defeat many boxers at the top of a few different weight divisions. It’s unfortunate that he lost to Nonito Donaire in their WBSS tournament matchup due to that injury to his back. Hopefully he has fully recovered and will be dropping back down to bantamweight in the near future. I know his last bout was at 122, but I’m assuming that was him just dipping his toes back in the water after the injury to see how he feels.
If Burnett goes back down to 118, that division could be loaded with talent and create some great matchups. Could you imagine if there weren’t so many weight classes and guys like Ryan Burnett, Naoya Inoue, Nonito Donaire, Zolani Tete, Emmanuel Rodriguez, Juan Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Roman Gonzalez, Donnie Nietes, Luis Nery, Nordine Oubaali, Kazuto Ioka, etc., were all in one weight class fighting each other? I can only dream that one day boxing gets it’s shit together enough to forgo all of these silly extra weight classes and nonsensical title belts that nobody understands.
Anyways, even though Ryan is a boxer-mover, Burnett is not a really a tall guy, so that would be one of the reasons I would go after this bout for Gonzalez. Another reason would be that Burnett does have a bad tendency to keep his left hand down at his hips, which is a mental mistake and needs to be corrected. You won’t always get away with mistakes like that, especially not against a formidable opponent like Roman Gonzalez. Ryan is also not the biggest puncher in the world. Again, those are the type of matchups that Gonzalez needs at this stage, shorter boxers with lighter punching power, unless the payoff is that great, like it could be with Inoue.
Burnett would need to box and try to pick Gonzalez off from a distance and Roman would need to work his way inside to bang away to the body and work the uppercuts. Burnett is a top-5 talent at bantamweight and this would be a great name for him to add to his resume. It could produce a solid fan base if this took place in the U.K., or maybe even New York.