WBC Special Preview: #EstradaChocolatito III
Grand Finale for Gallo and Chocolatito
By James Blears
The Gila River Arena, in Glendale, Arizona will be the final showdown setting for Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada and arch rival Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez on December 3rd and it's the trilogy decider.
After two successful defenses, southpaw wunderkind/prodigy Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez has vacated the World Boxing Council title, to return to 112 pounds, which is his natural weight category. So Gallo and Chocolatito, who've both been champions at super fly and are already legendary, contest the vacant Green and Gold Belt.
We've had to be patient and wait for this trilogy classic. It should have happened in March but Juan Francisco tested positive for Covid 19. Acknowledging that it was wise to fully recover, and not to return too early, which has physically cost other champions so dear, Juan Francisco sensibly bided his time.
In the meantime Chocolatito stayed busy by fighting WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar “With everything except fear” Martinez, who intrepidly took the fight at very short notice. He put up a brave performance, but the old master gave him a comprehensive, sustained boxing lesson to win an overwhelming UD. It kept Chocolatito sharp and tangy, while it taught JC an encyclopedia about the complexities of taking on an all-time great. Take a leaf out of that book!
Several months ago Chocolatito and Manger Carlos Blandon came to Mexico to participate in the opening of a new gym. Roman looked moon-faced, pudgy and cuddly. He's since shed weight, spruced up and is ready to secure his legacy with Gallo. Back then, Carlos Blandon said he hoped Juan Francisco would come through his comeback fight unscathed, so this decider could go ahead, and so it will.
Trained by the wily, sage, seasoned, veteran brilliant Hall of Fame Coach Ignacio “Nacho” Beristan, unfancied and unconsidered Argi Cortes was in tip top condition and fought the fight of his life in Hermosillo, to give Gallo a tough exacting comeback test. Argi lost a UD, but more than held his own, as Gallo shed some ring rust with a workmanlike performance. It was just what he needed.
Fans are hoping that Fight Three between Juan Francisco and Roman will be as great as their second encounter or even more dramatic. For Two, Compubox tabulated 2,529 punches, which is a record for the division. As this fight unfolded, it became clear that we were witnessing sheer greatness.
In their first fight way back in 2012, 22-year-old Juan Francisco came down a division to light fly to fight then WBA champion Chocolatito, who's three years older. Perhaps it was too much too soon? At that stage Gallo was still more callow than fully matured. He hadn't yet grown into the frame of his body.
At the end of round one, he gave Chocolatito a long pensive stare, as if to acknowledge: “Now I know just what I'm getting myself into.” Chocolatito was the hunter in the early stages and Gallo was countering. In the later stages, Gallo was pressing the action and actually driving the Nicaraguan back. Chocolatatio won a UD 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112. Victory was his, but it seemed appreciably closer than that.
In fight two, where Juan Francisco was defending his WBC super-flyweight belt and Chocolatito defending his WBA Super Belt, Juan was at his natural weight and those extra pounds were decisive.
Again, it was a variation of a chess match, with each vindicating, by demonstrating a whole variety plus mastery of punches. Roman was more instinctive, while Juan Francisco was more strategic and tactical. He superbly fought from middle distance gaining more leverage, and Chocolatito had to pay a smarting price to cut the distance and fight close in, where he excels. Chocolatito simply refused to back off or relent, but Gallo was proving significantly more accurate connecting.
It was a grandstand finish. Demonstrating their marvelous condition and unquenchable will to win, both went into overdrive and it became a titanic toe to toe slugfest. In that last round of this fight two, Chocolatito was gaining the upper hand, but then Gallo came straight back. The crowd was roaring. It was one of those moments, in the absence of full foliage up top, when you can feel the hairs at the back of your neck standing up and a frisson of thrill coursing through you. The WOW factor!
Boxing at its very best, it's absolute finest. And then… you dread the verdict, because it's going to mean that one of these legends has won but the other has lost after herculean efforts. One Judge had it 115-113 for Roman, while the other two had it 115-113 and 117-111 for Juan Francisco. It was a fabulous fight.
I think both have trained and strained in the mindset to go for broke and achieve a KO or a TKO this final time. Pecking order and sweet just desserts are at stake in the pages of Boxing greatness, and whoever is triumphant will be The Supreme One.
Standing five feet four inches, Juan Francisco is an inch taller than Roman. He has a sixty six inch reach, which is two more than Roman. Aged 32, he's three years younger. His record is 43-3, 28 KOs, while Roman is 50-3, 41 KOs.
One yardstick binds them. Chocolatito lost by MD to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and then was KO'd by him in four rounds. He appears to have fully recovered from that considerable setback. Gallo lost an MD to the same Thai southpaw power puncher, but then defeated him by UD.
For what's almost certain to be their final encounter, Juan and Roman might well pour it on earlier to test the waters and bring them to simmering and then boiling point. Neither are careless or wasteful punchers, so whoever wins will have to capitalize… if there's a momentary lapse or mistake, ruthlessly exploit it.
Their first two have gone the distance. I don't think number three will see or hear the final bell! Luckily, we'll soon see!
JUAN FRANCISCO ESTRADA
Date of Birth: April 14, 1990
Birthplace: Puerto Peñasco, Sonora
Residence: Hermosillo, Sonora
Alias: El Gallo
Récord: 43-3-0, 28 ko’s
% KO’S; 60.87 %
Total rounds: 310
World Title fights: 13 (11-2-0)
Manager: Alfredo Caballero
Promoter: Promociones Zanfer
Date of Birth: June 17, 1987
Birthplace: Managua, Nicaragua
Residence: Managua, Nicaragua
Alias: El Chocolatito
Récord: 51-3-0, 41 ko’s
% KO’S; 75.9 %
Total rounds: 283
World Title fights: 22 (19-3-0)
Manager: Carlos Blandon
Promoter: Teiken Promotions
WBC's Top 10 World Super-Flyweight Champions
1. GILBERTO ROMAN (MEXICO)
2. SANTOS LACIAR (ARGENTINA)
3. JIRO WATANABE (JAPAN)
4. CHULHO KIM (KOREA)
5. CRISTIAN MIJARES (MEXICO)
6. GERRY PEÑALOSA (PHILIPPINES)
7. SUNGKIL MOON (KOREA)
8. RAFAEL ORONO (VENEZUELA)
9. CARLOS CUADRAS (MEXICO)
10. JOSE LUIS BUENO (MEXICO)