Late last year Roman Gonzalez officially stepped up to flyweight.
He had already held the WBA title at 105 pounds. In 2010 he rose to junior flyweight and won the title there as well, but left the division last year with little left to prove. So far he's been unable to secure at shot at a flyweight title. It's not something that bothers the humble Nicaraguan fighter, though.
“I understand its part of the process in moving up in weight.” Gonzalez told RingTV.com through his manager, Silvio Conrado. “My team explained to me what the plan was and we are following it.”
“El Chocolatito” returns to action in a scheduled 10-rounder this Sunday against Filipino Juan Purisima.
The Tokyo card also features a defense by WBC junior flyweight titleholder Adrian Hernandez against Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue, and is headlined by RING and WBC flyweight titleholder Akira Yaegashi, who will meet Odilon Zaleta. If both Gonzalez and Yaegashi are victorious the aim is for them to meet, possibly as soon as August.
“That’s the plan. I am hungry to try and win a third title,” said Gonzalez. “Only Alexis Arguello has done that from my home country of Nicaragua.”
Gonzalez, who's still only 26, boasts an impressive record of 38-0, with 32 knockouts. Currently he holds a top-5 ranking for all the major sanctioning bodies at 112 pounds.
Anson Wainwright – You return to action on April 6 in Tokyo. Can you share your thoughts on the card and your fight?
Roman Gonzalez – I will fight on the same card in which Akira Yaegashi and Adrian Hernandez defend their WBC titles at flyweight and junior flyweight.
My rival is Juan Purisima. The idea is to try and win in order to later pursue a possible matchup against the WBC flyweight champ, Yaegashi. It’s going to be a great card with a lot of top talent in the lower weight classes. I hear that the Inoue brothers will be fighting there as well.
AW – As you mentioned, if all goes well in your fight and Akira Yaegashi’s title defense against Odilson Zaleta, you’ll both meet in August.
RG – That’s the plan. I am hungry to try and win a third title. Only Alexis Arguello has done that from my home country of Nicaragua. I would like to try and match that and who knows maybe even face some of the top names at flyweight.
For now I have to focus on my opponent. It’s a great opportunity for me and I pray to God that if that moment arrives, to give me the strength, knowledge and possibility to win that fight and earn a third title. If it happens it’s going to be a tough and exciting fight.
AW – Your last fight was against Juan Kantun back in February.
RG – Yes, I have been preparing to move up in weight. The Kantun fight was part of the process. It was a fight which we took in order to continue with the process of creating a strong fan base in Mexico. I have fought many times there and in Japan. In both places people have treated us very kindly.
Many thanks to Teiken Promotions of Japan and Zanfer Promotions of Mexico for allowing me to participate in their fight cards. Ditto to Prodesa, the boxing promotion company in Nicaragua which has promoted the majority of my fights.
The Kantun fight was difficult in the first couple of rounds, he is very strong and was always willing to trade shots. I found out during the fight that the hooks to the body hurt him a lot and I tried to exploit that.
AW – Last year you fought three times, but you weren’t able to secure a world title at flyweight. Was this frustrating for you?
RG – Not really, Anson. I understand it's part of the process in moving up in weight. My team explained to me what the plan was and we are following it.
Competition at flyweight is fierce. You have many top talents there such as Juan Estrada, Brian Viloria, Giovanni Segura, Hernan Marquez, Edgar Sosa, Milan Melindo, Akira Yaegashi, Juan Carlos Reveco, Archie Solis, and now Kazuto Ioka. The division is action-packed and very tough. I was actually more frustrated that the champions at junior flyweight wanted nothing to do with me. All of the fighters that I mentioned are great fighters with good boxing pedigrees who have accomplished a lot during their careers.
AW – Who are the key members of your team?
RG – My trainers are Professor Arnulfo Obando and my father, Luis Gonzalez. Professor Obando in particular has been in more than 30 world title fights. I am managed by Silvio Conrado and Carlo Pilato. They are the managers of the top boxers from my home country of Nicaragua. I have various romoters; Teiken Promotions of Japan promotes my career worldwide. They are the biggest promotional outfit in Asia. Prodesa of Nicaragua promotes all my fights in my home country. Zanfer Promociones, the largest Latin American promotional company, promotes my fights in Mexico. They all work as a team in order to try and get me the best opportunities possible. Mr. Honda from Teiken has the final word on all subject matters.
My physical trainer is Wilmer Hernandez. Most people don’t know him but he is absolutely great. I train at the Roger Deshon gym in Managua, Nicaragua. It is the home base of the boxing company Prodesa. I train in the gym with former world champions Jose Alfaro and Juan Palacios. I spar regularly with Carlos Buitrago, Felix and Rene Alvarado as well as many others. Most ranked fighters from my country call this gym their home. It used to be managed by Alexis Arguello before he passed away. He instilled discipline and hard work into our culture. That is why it is by far the best gym in the country.
AW – What was it like for you in your youth growing up in Managua?
RG – It was ok. We had hard times like everybody. My family is poor. I don’t really like to talk much about this. All I can say is that sometimes we did not have enough to eat. We were, however, a happy and united family. Things now are better financially. We are still a close family. Boxing has helped me provide a better life for my family.
AW – How did you become interested in boxing?
RG – I became interested in boxing because I am a third-generation fighter. My grandfather was a fighter, my father and uncles were fighters. My brothers have practiced the sport as well but I am the only one who currently boxes professionally. I also have some cousins who box in Nicaragua professionally. They also train in our gym and are promoted by Prodesa.
AW – You have fought outside Nicaragua on fifteen occasions in countries like Mexico, Japan and North America – what is it like for you to go and fight in so many different countries?
RG – I train very hard and try to always be prepared. I will fight anybody, anywhere. Traveling is part of my job and it's something I've really enjoyed. It has given me the opportunity to know other cultures. I sometimes travel even to spar. I went to Mexico City to spar with my good friend Edgar Sosa. It was a great experience to learn from such a great champ. Even though we may be rivals soon I really admire and respect him.
AW – What are your thoughts on current champions Akira Yaegashi, Juan Estrada and Amnat Ruengueng?
RG – There is very good talent there. I want to fight Yaegashi first. He is the RING and WBC champ. I would like to fight him. I have already fought Estrada before and it was a tough fight. I gave him an opportunity before. I hope him and his team give me an opportunity after I fight Yaegashi. It should be one of the most exciting fights in the lower weight divisions. Ruengueng I have only seem him fight in a boxing video. It was very short. Apparently he had a very distinguished amateur career.
AW – Away from boxing what do you enjoy doing?
RG – I like to travel, go to church with my girlfriend and family. I shoot a little hoops and play a little soccer. I really enjoy going to the beach. When I travel my manager always tries to take me to amusement parks. The scarier the rollercoaster the better.
AW – You're a two-weight world champion. What goals do you still have in boxing?
RG – I would like to at least be a three-time world champion and possibly try to unify titles at flyweight.
AW – Alexis Arguello was a national hero in Nicaragua and someone you knew very well – could you tell us about the relationship the two of you had and how his passing affected you and how you now fight in his memory?
RG – He was my friend and my mentor. My manager was one of his best friends. Alexis and a group of friends formed the company which promotes me in Nicaragua. Our gym is almost a tribute to his life philosophy. There you will see posters of him, trainers who were instructed by him, etc. I remember him often. He taught me what it means to represent Nicaragua in boxing abroad. He was an international star and an ambassador of the sport. Most importantly, he was a good friend, a good person, and somebody who really cared about the fighters.
AW – In closing, do you have a message for the flyweight division?
RG – Guys, keep training hard if you guys want to remain champions because I definitely am working hard.