A Return to Beginnings for Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez


They say that “Life comes Full Circle”  it returns us to the beginning, it returns us to a point in our life that we started from. For Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez this has never been more true. Before “Chocolatito” was a household name, Gonzalez was just another fighter, a fighter training and sacrificing day in and day out to maybe one day possibly make it out of poverty. Growing up in Nicaragua, Gonzalez grew up fighting, and as mentioned earlier he also grew up poor, very poor.  Gonzalez learned to box at an early age sparring other kids with gloves his father had made out of electrical tape. “I Never imagined I would be where I am today because I was poor. We didn’t even own a pair of boxing gloves” stated Gonzalez in the UTHW documentary. 

 In his first professional bout Gonzalez made $50 US dollars. That didn’t deter him though. Motivated to achieve greatness, Gonzalez kept grinding, kept fighting and kept giving his all, hoping for an opportunity to shine here in the United States.

Eventually becoming a two division world champion and winning 33 fights in a row, Chocolatito would go up against a young Mexican prospect by the name of Juan “Gallo” Estrada. A fight that would take place November 17th 2012 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. That memorable evening boxing fans would witness an entertaining Jr. Flyweight championship fight, one in which Gonzalez would win by a close unanimous decision. The eyes of the boxing world had now focused its attention on Gonzalez. In the meantime Estrada would become unified WBA and WBO Flyweight Champion in his very next fight after defeating Brian Viloria in Macau, China.

Chocolatito defeats Juan Francisco Estrada by Unanimous Decision
Photo: German Villasenor

With the victory over Estrada, Gonzalez not only became a boxing star amongst the die hard fans but had now captured the attention of HBO. Gonzalez would make his HBO Debut in 2015 against Edgar Sosa. A fight that started a unique event partnership with at time the “Boogyman” of boxing and global superstar Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. A partnership that would showcase Gonzalez on HBO as the Co-main event leading into GGG’s fights. Gonzalez had now brought a new focus on the lighter weight divisions of the sport and quickly climbed to the top of the pound for pound rankings with his wins over the likes of Brian Viloria and McWilliams Arroyo. Then in an absolute war Gonzalez etched his name into the history book after he survived a brutal slugfest with Carlos Cuadras for the WBC Super Flyweight title. Throughout the fight both Cuadras and Gonzalez traded vicious shots and hellacious combinations as the crowd of 6,714 at the “Fabulous” Forum roared for both fighters through 12 punishing rounds, as they exchanged chants of  “Nicaragua!” and “Mexico.” In the end it was Gonzalez’s resilience and ring skill that put ahead on all three of the judges’ scorecards giving him the unanimous decision victory. With that win Gonzalez surpassed his mentor, Alexis Arguello, by becoming the first Nicaraguan to win titles in four divisions. “I will never be better than Arguello,” Gonzalez said after the fight. “He is the teacher. I am his son. He will always be No. 1.” 

After securing the WBC Super Flyweight Title, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was now the Ring Magazine and consensus #1 pound for pound fighter in the world and was a boxing superstar. Despite all the accolades Gonzalez was receiving throughout the boxing community, his world would soon come crumbling down. In November of 2016, Gonzalez’s trainer and long time friend, mentor and 2015 Ring Magazine “Trainer of the Year” Arnulfo Obando would suddenly passed away after suffering a stroke.

Trainer Arnulfo Obando ties Gonzalez’s glove in 2015
Photo: Lina Baker

Five months later Gonzalez would agree to make his first WBC super flyweight title defense in New York City on the GGG Vs Daniel Jacobs undercard against a big strong Thai fighter by the name Srikaset Sor Rungvisai. The first fight Gonzalez would have without his long time friend and trainer Arnulfo Obando in his corner. Leading up to the fight Gonzalez stated “It was very difficult for me on a personal and professional level. Arnulfo was my trainer, friend, and father like figure in my life. This was my first training camp without him and I knew he would be happy if we kept on training hard like he taught us and keep winning in God’s name. With God on our team, these events become motivational.” That night in New York however Gonzalez would suffer his first defeat of his career. A fight in which Gonzalez would be dropped to the canvas in the first round, suffer a major cut over his eye from a headbutt in the third round and have to deal with a bigger stronger fighter than he’s ever had to deal with. After 12 brutal and bloody rounds of boxing Sor Rungvisai came away with a majority decision victory as the judges returned with the scores of 114-112, 114-112, 113-113 a decision that was met with an onslaught of boos at Madison Square Garden. The pair rematched later that September in Carson, California and Sor Rungvisai would pull off yet another shocker, he would knock Gonzalez completely out. 

After 46 straight victories, capturing titles in four weight classes, and being the consensus #1 pound for pound fighter in the world the 30-year old Gonzalez had lost two fights in a row, been in several grueling wars throughout his career and many in the boxing media felt his best days were now behind him. 

Since those back to back losses Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez has seemed to turn back the hands of time. The rejuvenated Gonzalez has won four fights in a row including an upset victory over the WBA Super Flyweight Champion, Kal Yafai in Texas last year. A win that resurrected Gonzalez and once again labeled Chocolatito king of the division. 

Boxing has truly come full circle, and now the four division, two time Super Flyweight Champion has his eyes set on returning to greatness and unifying the WBC and WBA titles when he rematches the man that introduced the casual boxing fans to Roman Gonzalez, the fighter who catapulted the name Chocolatito into existence, the WBC Champion,  Juan “Gallo” Estrada. “I believe both of us have matured. We’ve also had to deal with defeat which builds your boxing career even more than victory at times. We have both evolved as champions and will bring an even more competitive fight than the first.” Stated Gonzalez. The rematch will take place on March 13th in Dallas, Texas and will be streamed live on DAZN.

Now after 8 long years Estrada will have a chance to get revenge for the loss that he suffered back in 2012. Estrada recently stated “In my career I only have three defeats, I have avenged two of them and the only one I am missing is Roman. I feel capable of beating him because I already fought with him, I know his weaknesses, so we are focused on winning convincingly. We are bringing in a strategy to come out with everything, to go for the intelligent knockout. The first time we faced each other, I entered the ring too weak, because it was difficult for me to make 108-pounds, but I ripped my heart out to keep up the pace and have a good fight. This rematch will be an exciting fight, better than the first, because we’re fighting in a division that’s better suited for us”

About Anthony Saldana

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