Mexico`s Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada defeated Nicaragua`s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez via a split decision to retain his WBC super flyweight title, at the American Airlines Center, Dallas, in a worthy tribute to Marvelous Marvin Hagler who has just passed away.
Chocolatito had defeated Gallo back in 2012, when they fought at light flyweight, and fight fans had waited more than eight years for this rematch. They weren`t disappointed. In what`s surely going to be a strong candidate for Fight of the Year, both poured in their power, guile, determination and tremendous competitive spirit, to make this a memorable all time classic. On occasions each got the upper hand, only for the other to retaliate with awesome sustained firepower. Their first fight was excellent. This rematch concerning punches and brilliance, was off the charts. Many fans who were on the edge of their seats were then giving the two a constant standing ovation.
The Judges scored it 115-113 and 117-111 for Gallo and 115-113 for Chocolatito. Many rounds were desperately close with almost non stop frenetic action.
In their first fight, Chocolatito (50-5-1, 43 KO`s)had started slowly and built up. This time both went to work with verve and intensity from the very word go. Gallo (42-3, 28 KO`S) got the better of round one with some crisp combinations, trying to keep the action at middle range.
Chocolatito as always held his hands high, but still got caught with a hard left right combination in the second, only to land his right and a left right combination of his own. His rights were already finding a home.
A clash of heads in the third and then some sinking body shots from Gallo and some superb exchanges, with Gallo landing left hooks and both landing short rights. Mutual respect at the end of a wonderful round with both touching gloves. Gallo went for the body in round four, only to get caught with rights to the head. Then both went to war, with neither backing down. Gallo landed two snappy rights in the seconds leading to the bell.
In the fifth, Chocolatito was moving in catching Gallo with a big right, which earned him a rebuking left hook. An unintended low punch from Chocolatito. Both sportingly touched gloves after a pause moment and as the bell rang to end the round, Chocolatito gave Gallo a friendly pat on the top of the head.
More fearsome exchanges at the halfway point. Gallo connecting with both left and right uppercuts, with Chocolatito firing back, with his trademarks rights. At this point the action was toe to toe, but punch picking rather than slugging. The punch volume was close to insane. Many thought it would diminish…yet it didn`t!
In the seventh and eighth it remained at close range. Gallo was firing on all cylinders, yet Chocolatito was cleverly slipping punches to deliver his own, often by slight but deft movements. Gallo went back to the body in the ninth and tried to maintain the action at longer range where he could control things better.
Chocolatito launched an onslaught in the tenth with Gallo milling on the retreat. Gallo`s left eye was swollen, but this didn`t hamper him. He landed a big left uppercut and Chocolatito replied with a booming right.
More big rights from Chocolatito in the eleventh. Gallo going for the body and then they decided to throw caution to the wind and unload a dazzling array of combinations. It was thrilling and brought the crowd to their feet cheering.
In the twelfth it was Gallo`s turn to pat the top of Chocolatito`s head, and then they really went at it. Both had their moments. A huge right from Chocolatito checked Gallo, but only momentarily as he battled back with a battery impact of his own.
At the end, they embraced. Both were hoisted on the shoulders of their teams. Both had magnificently distinguished themselves.
After a deserved rest, Gallo fights mandatory challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. It`ll be their third encounter. Each holds a victory so it`ll be the decider. Can`t wait!
Photos by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.