Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez is a cast-iron certainty to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame after he chooses to depart the fight game, but the great Nicaraguan still hopes to expand his legacy with a victory over Juan Francisco Estrada in their super-flyweight unification bout at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday.
The reigning WBA ‘Super’ 115lbs champion (50-2, 41 KOs) defeated WBC king Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) back in November 2012 in his final bout as WBA light-flyweight title holder, but has since gained worldwide acclaim as a four-weight world champion.
Formerly trained by the late, great Alexis Arguello, also from Nicaragua, Gonzalez has added his own incredible achievements to his nation’s boxing history, having toppled Akira Yaegashi (2014) for the WBC flyweight crown and Carlos Cuadras (2016) for the WBC super-flyweight title in past exploits.
“When I fought Yaegashi, the question that all of Nicaragua had was ‘Are you on the same level as Alexis Arguello?’” said Gonzalez. “I won that third title in Japan and then a fourth title came [vs Cuadras], where everybody was waiting expectantly to see if I’d win it. I trained a lot because it was one of my dreams. And then… boom! I won the title and Nicaragua welcomed me like never before.
“I’m so proud to have represented my country with such dignity. And well, I’m so happy for my parents, my family. And for Alexis, who was always there for me, teaching me the good things about this boxing world.
“I always respected all the orders Alexis gave me because he’s a three-time champion. It’s an honour. He was like my father. We were very close. Sometimes he invited me to his house, and I remember being at his house, eating and I got relaxed, and he dropped me off at my fight and that day was the first time that I got hit hard.
“I was scared, but I got up and I knocked the guy out. But those are life experiences that I had with him where I learned. Because I think, I could have not gotten up after that punch. But due to the conditions, it made me get up again. Alexis was a very demanding person in the gym. And even in the fight.
“I consider myself a man who’s done the best that I could. I had difficult times growing up but, in the end, it worked out well. Life has taught me a lot of things, and I learned. And I feel and think that I’ve already conquered many things in boxing. What comes now with this title is just extra.
“I never imagined myself getting to where I am now. But wow, it is still hard, it costs me. Because I train the right way. I do things the way they should be done. But I like it. And it’s what’s let me help my family. Help my kids. I don’t complain because I thank god for where I am now.
“Life has been hard and difficult with sacrifice. My family, my children, what makes me get up in the morning is to keep reaping victories in boxing. Not only that, but many young guys that want to be like the champ, like Chocolatito. But in the end, it’s what gives you your happiness in life. What you want to achieve in your life.
“When I retire, I will leave very satisfied and very happy to have been able to have so much success for my kids and my family, and also for the people of Nicaragua.”
Main image: Matchroom Boxing USA.