Juan Francisco Estrada Edges Chocolatito Again In Trilogy Battle
Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez added yet another memorable chapter to their riveting rivalry on Saturday night.
While it may not have matched the intensity level and all-out action of the first two epic encounters, it was yet another closely contested and fierce battle, but one that Estrada eked out by majority decision.
He retained the lineal junior bantamweight title and claimed the vacant WBC belt he once owned before a raucous crowd of 9,163 in the main event of the Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
👑 @GalloEstradaOfi takes it by majority decision!
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) December 4, 2022
One judge scored the fight 114-114 but the other two had it for 116-112 and 115-113 for Estrada, who won the trilogy 2-1, which included the extremely controversial result in last year’s rematch. Fight Freaks Unite and Big Fightweekend also scored it 114-114.
“I feel good. We had an excellent preparation at high altitude,” Estrada said through an interpreter. “We trained really hard for this third fight and I think we left the results clear about who the winner was.”
The soft-spoken Gonzalez did not complain about the decision.
“It was a nice fight for the public. I did what I could and that was the result,” Gonzalez said through an interpreter.
It was really a tale of two fights with Estrada bolting to a lead on all three scorecards against the notoriously slow-stating Gonzalez, who was sluggish early and looked all of his 35 years before roaring back to dominate much of the second half of the fight.
Two-division champion Estrada won the first five rounds on two scorecards and four of the first five on one card. Gonzalez, the legendary four-division champion and former pound-for-pound king, won six of the final seven rounds on one card and five of the last seven on a second scorecard.
“Like I’ve always said in my interviews, he’s a future Hall of Famer,” said Estrada, who likely secured his own spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame if he hadn’t already. “I won today out of my own merit. I won because I was better prepared but I think he still has a lot left ahead of him in his career.”
In the end, it was yet another hotly contested battle that left open the possibility of a fourth fight.
After a slow opening round, it was Estrada who got going in the second round, knocking Gonzalez back with a right hand and backing him up throughout the round.
Gonzalez (51-4, 41 KOs), of Nicaragua, couldn’t quite find a groove even as he stalked forward throwing combinations in the third round, which featured good toe-to-toe action in the late going.
The action continued but it was Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs), 32, of Mexico, who got the better of it through the fifth round, after which Marcos Caballero, Gonzalez’s trainer, urged him to pick things up.
Gonzales followed orders and began to more urgently press the action. By the eighth round, he was regularly forcing Estrada to the ropes and unleashing combinations and his vaunted right hand.
He found a home for his uppercut and body shots as well, and he stopped Estrada in his tracks with a combination with 30 seconds to go in the eighth round.
In the ninth round, he put Estrada on the ropes and let his hands fly, repeatedly landing solid rights to the head in his best round of the bout. He was credited with landing 30 of 100 punches in the round, fight highs in both categories, according to CompuBox statistics.
Gonzalez was on the attack and doing damage in the 10th round when he slipped to the canvas. That caused referee Chris Flores to call timeout, which gave Estrada a few seconds of valuable recovery time just when he seemed to be fading.
Gonzalez continued the push forward in the 11th round and they closed the show in the 12th with a close frame filled with toe-to-toe action. Estrada landed 29 of 81 punches in the final round, both of his fight highs, and Gonzalez landed 25 of 76 punches, his second-best effort other than the ninth round.
“We’re in an age where the big fights aren’t happening and these guys have done it three times. Another sensational fight,” Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said.
Overall, Estrada landed 217 of 778 punches (28 percent) and Gonzalez landed 201 of 732 (28 percent). Estrada also outlanded Gonzalez 62-31 in body shots.
“I made sure that I counter punched him,” Estrada said. “I threw a lot of punches and utilized the preparation that I did with my excellent team.”
They first fought in 2012 in Los Angeles, where Gonzalez outpointed Estrada in a rousing battle to retain the WBA junior flyweight title in a fight for which Estrada had come down in weight for the opportunity and has said for years the weight loss was a big factor in his defeat.
They finally met again in March 2021 in Dallas to unify two junior bantamweight titles as well as for 115-pound division supremacy. It an extraordinary fight that Estrada won by highly controversial split decision – judge Carlos Sucre was suspended by the WBA for his outrageous 117-111 scorecard in Estrada’s favor — in a slugfest that surely would have won fight of the year honors had it not been for the dramatic and historic instant classic third heavyweight championship fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
As well as the friendly rivals know each other from all their rounds together, Gonzalez said he began slowly because “I was seeing what he had. What’s important is we gave a great fight for the public and we came out in good health. Thank you to everyone. All fights are different and all fights are difficult and I think this was the most difficult one. We did what we could”
Will Their Be A Fourth Fight?
Both said before the fight, which was twice postponed because each man had come down with Covid-19, that they would be open to a fourth installment. Nothing had changed after the fight.
“If he wants the fourth fight I think we can do it,” Estrada said. “First, I’m going to rest with my family and get through the holidays, but I do believe Roman deserves a fourth fight.”
As for Gonzalez, he said he would consider it but he also said he might think about retirement.
“Well, as long as they pay well, of course. That’s what we’re here for,” Gonzalez said of a possible fourth fight.
But as far as continuing his career at all, fourth fight or not, he said he was unsure.
“I don’t know yet. I’m gonna talk about it with my family,” he said. “My kids are the most important thing. That’s what I have to take into consideration.”
Hearn said he would be interested in putting on a fourth fight if it is what the boxers want, but he also said he has interest in matching Estrada with WBC flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (19-2, 14 KOs), who retained his title by majority decision over Samuel Carmona in the co-feature but had been decisively outpointed by Gonzalez at junior bantamweight in a non-title fight in March.
“I think there’s a possibility of No. 4,” Hearn said. “I think Julio Cesar Martinez against Estrada is a great fight for Mexico as well. I think this man (Estrada) is a pound-for-pound great and a future Hall of Famer. He’ll have a nice rest and we’ll see what’s next.”