Roman Gonzalez was THE RING’s No. 1-rated strawweight from the day he defeated titleholder Yutaka Niida in October of 2008 until he decided to vacate his 105-pound belt to campaign in the junior flyweight division two years later.
The talented Nicaraguan boxer-puncher, a protégé of the late great Alexis Arguello, literally went from being a prospect to the top fighter in the strawweight division with his impressive fourth-round knockout of the long-reigning Japanese beltholder, just two months after turning 21.
However, if Gonzalez’s most recent bout, a hard-fought unanimous decision over Manuel Vargas in Mexico on Saturday, is any indication, his ascent up the junior flyweight rankings will not be as quick or easy.
Vargas is a tough-as-nails former interim 105-pound beltholder who has only lost to quality opposition, but the Mexican fringe contender was knocked out when he took on elite fighters. RING junior flyweight champ Giovani Segura stopped Vargas seven rounds and the magazine’s No. 1-rated bantamweight Nonito Donaire blasted him out in three.
Gonzalez (28-0, 23 knockouts), who picked up the WBA 108-pound belt with Saturday’s victory, could not hurt Vargas (29-8-1, 14 KOs) or prevent the gusty Mexican from stalking him with wild haymakers for much of the bout, which was televised on Fox Deportes in the U.S.
However, he controlled most of the action with his cleaner technique and combination punching. Gonzalez looked sharp enough to earn a No. 10 rating in THE RING’s junior flyweight rankings.
If the two-division titleholder holder thought cracking the ratings was tough wait until he tries to climb the 108-pound ladder.
THE RING’s junior flyweight ratings is populated with talented and experienced former titleholders Ulises Solis (No. 8), Brian Viloria (No. 7), Carlos Tamara (No. 6), Rodel Mayol (No. 4) and Omar Nino (No. 3). The champ, Segura, and the No. 1 contender, former champ Ivan Calderon, are elite-level veterans.
If Gonzalez plans to be as bold at 108 pounds as he was at strawweight, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
Ring ratings update:
Heavyweights: Odlanier Solis (No. 10 last week) exits following his first-round TKO loss to Vitali Klitschko. Solis is replaced at No. 10 by Kubrat Pulev.
Junior flyweights: Gonzalez, a former strawweight titleholder, has now won three bouts as a junior flyweight and replaces Jesus Geles at No. 10.