Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez will battle for the third time on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Over 10 years ago, on a stormy night in Los Angeles in November 2012, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (51-3, 41 KOs) and Juan “El Gallo” Francisco Estrada (43-3, 28 KOs) faced off for the first time. Their first encounter was for Gonzalez’s WBA light flyweight title and would be Estrada’s first championship opportunity.
Estrada surprised many by pushing Gonzalez to one of his most challenging bouts. What ensued surpassed the expectations of even the most hardcore boxing fans as the two put on one of the best fights of 2012. That night, Gonzalez walked away with a unanimous decision. But the Sonora, Mexico native gained a new measure of validation from fans.
After their first battle, both men catapulted their careers to greater heights. Immediately after losing to Gonzalez, Estrada would win the WBA and WBO flyweight titles. He would go on to make five defenses of his championships.
Gonzalez would make history by becoming the first four-division champion from Nicaragua. He would also become one of a handful of fighters to win titles in the strawweight (105), junior flyweight (108), flyweight (112), and super flyweight (115) weight classes.
After one of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s many retirements in September 2015, Gonzalez, for a period of time, was considered the consensus number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
By the time of their second meeting in March 2021, the two fighters were in completely different stages in their careers. Gonzalez’s best days were considered behind him following two consecutive losses to Thai fighter Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017. The second of which was a brutal fourth-round knockout. Many believed the loss signaled the end of the four-division champion’s time in the ring.
On the other hand, Estrada was now considered one of the best fighters in the world, suffering just one defeat since facing Gonzalez in 2012 against Rungvisai in 2018. The Mexican technician would avenge his loss to Rungvisai in 2019 to win the WBC and Ring Magazine super flyweight titles. After Canelo Alvarez, Estrada was considered the premier fighter out of Mexico.
After multiple injuries, including having surgery on his right knee, Gonzalez rebounded with a renowned resurgence in 2020. He would stop and dominate the undefeated Khalid Yafai in nine rounds. Gonzalez proved that he was far from finished and still operating at an elite level in capturing the WBA super flyweight title.
The rematch would be just as good if not surpassing the first fight. With higher stakes on the line in another highly skilled back-and-forth war that saw both men have their moments of success. The fight set a record for the 115-pound weight class, with both fighters combining for 2,529 total punches thrown.
This time it was Estrada who would be awarded the decision victory after 12 rounds, winning a split decision along with the WBA, WBC, and Ring Magazine super flyweight titles. However, Estrada’s win was highly controversial. A large majority of observers scored the fight in Gonzalez’s favor. Judge Carlos Sucre’s scorecard of 117-111 for Estrada was rightfully criticized for its absurdity leading to the judges’ suspension by the WBA.
If it weren’t for Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder’s epic third match, the Estrada-Gonzalez sequel would have been the 2021 fight of the year, despite the controversial scoring.
A third bout was scheduled almost immediately to take place in October 2021. But Gonzalez would contract COVID postponing the rubber match. More bad luck followed as a fight date in March 2022 was again delayed with Estrada coming down with COVID.
Filling in for Estrada was WBC flyweight champion, Julio Cesar Martinez. Gonzalez put on a master class performance winning a unanimous decision over Martinez in March of this year.
However, after an 18-month layoff, Estrada looked vulnerable, winning a decision against Argi Cortes this past September. Adding insult to injury, Estrada was stripped of his WBA title for failing to make a mandatory defense against Joshua Franco.
Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez face off in a trilogy bout to settle their rivalry
After numerous delays, the stage is set for this weekend at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, for the third meeting between the two future Hall-of-Famers. Although, in this case, titles are secondary, the fight will be for the vacant WBC super flyweight championship.
For Gonzalez, a victory in the trilogy bout would rectify the controversial decision in the second fight. A win would firmly establish him as the best super flyweight of the era. It would add to his credentials as one of the greatest fighters in the 21st century and one of the best fighters below featherweight in boxing history.
Following their first bout, for years, Estrada clamored for a rematch with Gonzalez chasing the Nicaraguan up the weight scale. When he finally got Gonzalez in the ring, most fans thought he was awarded a gift decision. Heading into the rubber match, Estrada will have a chip on his shoulder to prove naysayers wrong about his validity as champion.
The odds are very close, and as of this writing, Caesar’s sports book has Gonzalez as a -220 favorite and Estrada as a +180 underdog.
What fans can expect is another epic clash between Estrada and Gonzalez. It’s unlikely that this fight will go the way of Canelo’s trilogy with Gennadiy Golovkin, which ended in a disappointing one-sided settlement.
Estrada-Gonzalez 3 will take the path of historic boxing trilogies such as Gatti-Ward, Ali-Frazier, and, more recently, Barrera-Morales in delivering a memorable third battle.
Estrada-Chocolatito 3 will be shown live on DAZN at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on Saturday, December 3rd.
Roman Gonzalez wins via unanimous decision in another close but clear bout that contends for 2022 fight of the year honors.