LOS ANGELES – The fight between Roman Gonzalez and Juan Estrada on the Brian Viloria-Hernan Marquez card Saturday at the old Sports Arena was a contradiction: a one-sided decision AND a Fight of the Year candidate.
That might sound strange, but anyone who saw the fight would agree it was a treat to watch.
Gonzalez, the knockout artist from Nicaragua, won the fight by a clear decision by outworking his less-experienced opponent – 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112 – but the scores don’t indicate the damage Estrada inflicted, or his profound toughness.
Gonzalez (34-0, 28 knockouts) landed a few hundred shots in toe-to-toe exchanges that would’ve separated most opponents from their heads but Estrada, with superhuman resilience, took them all and never stopped coming.
Gonzalez seemed to be on the verge of finishing the job on several occasions, but each time, Estrada (22-2, 17 KOs) responded with his own crisp combinations to keep the WBA junior flyweight champ honest and lift the fans to their feet.
Even late in the fight, after taking more punches than anyone should, Estrada seemed to be almost as fresh as he was at the opening bell.
For Gonzalez, it was another convincing victory over a good opponent. It seems no one can touch the little bruiser, whose proud supporters chanted the name of their small central American nation throughout the fight.
He isn’t often in the pound-for-pound discussion, in part because he fights in an often-overlooked weight class and has few peers, but most knowledgeable observers would agree he deserves consideration.
Perhaps he needs to lure a well-known opponent into the ring, one like flyweight titleholder Viloria, who stopped Hernan Marquez in the main event Saturday, to gain the recognition that has eluded him. At 25, he has plenty of time to do so.
The setback must’ve been difficult for Estrada to swallow given his effort against an elite opponent. To fight that hard – and at times effectively – and emerge with a one-sided loss had to be more painful than Gonzalez’s punches.
But make no mistake: Estrada, only 22, scored major points in defeat. He gave one of the best fighters in the world stiff resistance, displayed an incredible chin and, most important, he and Gonzalez gave the crowd a fight they’re not likely to forget.
Three parties won on Saturday – Gonzazlez, Estrada and the fans.