As the long-awaited rematch between Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada approaches, Boxing Social’s Luke G. Williams is revisiting, fight-by-fight, the nine-bout series between Gonzalez, Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras, which has provided boxing fans with a 21st Century equivalent of the 1980s Four Kings series… Today he reexamines the pulsating contest between Gonzalez and Cuadras from 2016…
Roman Gonzalez W12 Carlos Cuadras (unanimous decision), Inglewood, California, September 10, 2016.
A titanic battle between two fighters who were – at the time – unbeaten in 81 contests between them.
After deposing Srisaket Sor Rungvisai as WBC super-flyweight champion, Cuadras entered the bout having notched up an impressive six successful defences.
Chocolatito – meanwhile – was making the move from 112lbs champion to 115lbs challenger. Since defeating Juan Francisco Estrada at light-fly, the Nicaraguan had racked up 11 victories at fly and super-fly, including wresting the WBC 112lbs title from Akira Yaegashi and repelling the challenge of three accomplished contenders in the form of Edgar Sosa, Brian Viloria and McWilliams Arroyo.
By challenging Cuadras, Chocolatito was seeking to become the first Nicaraguan to win a world title in a fourth weight class – an accomplishment that had even proved beyond his hero and mentor the great Alexis Arguello.
The fight that ensued was an all-action classic, pitting Chocolatito’s mastery of cutting off the ring and ceaseless attacking against Cuadras’ clever backwards movement and swift, hard-punching flurries.
During the early rounds, the challenger established a clear lead thanks to his superior volume, shaking Cuadras with a big uppercut in round two.
However, as the fight progressed, Cuadras was able to increasingly stand his ground, set his feet and reply with hard-hitting rallies of his own. The fourth saw the two men stand and trade some breathtaking leather, with Cuadras landing a big left on the bell.
Cuadras gained further in confidence as bruising appeared under Chocolatito’s left eye and a big body shot in the fifth also discomfited Gonzalez. Cuadras also had a fine sixth round, cutting Chocolatito above his right eye and landing a good hook on the bell.
Just as Gonzalez was looking a little weary and disheartened, he roared back in the seventh, out-punching and outlanding Cuadras. In the eighth, Cuadras looked to box and move, while the ninth and tenth featured heavy exchanges from both men.
By now, Gonzalez was cut over both eyes and Cuadras was also bleeding above his left eye. However, Chocolatito remained in control on the scorecards, having banked the majority of the earty rounds due to his effective aggression and ability to connect with so many punches.
Cuadras rallied brilliantly in the 11th and 12th rounds, shaking Gonzalez and pushing him back at times with the sheer savagery of his assaults.
At the final bell, HBO co-commentator Roy Jones’s breathless but simple exclamation of “What a fight! What a fight!” perfectly summarised a classic contest.
Gonzalez had done enough to win – but his battered visage told the story of a contest that had pushed him to the limit. It was, he declared, “the most difficult fight I’ve ever had”.
As he celebrated tearfully, Gonzalez looked to the heavens and paid tribute to his former friend and mentor Arguello, who died in such tragic circumstances in 2009.
“He will always be number one. He was my teacher and I am his son.”
Main image: Ed Mulholland/HBO.