Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez scored another victory last night, this time against McWilliams Arroyo. For all intense purposes it was a better fight than most expected, in that Arroyo escaped without getting knocked out and he did so with only one good shoe! If you tuned in you caught the bizarre moment when the sole of Arroyo’s Adidas shoe popped off and left him on one good foot until his corner taped it back on in-between rounds.
Chocolatito moved to 45-0 and is the top P4P boxer in the eyes of many boxing pundits. (#4 by No Sparring). Fighting on the undercard of fellow P4P boxer Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin for the third consecutive time has raised his profile through HBO viewers and also given fans a great chance to see both powerful boxers fight back to back, making for entertaining boxing.
Now Chocolatito wants to showcase his own card and fight in the main event and get main event money. The one problem is that he fights at flyweight, a division that traditionally doesn’t resonate with the casual fan. Even Manny Pacquiao, a former flyweight, had to move up several divisions before he saw his first main event on HBO. You compare that with the fact that HBO is going through budget cuts and restricting the amount of fights they would otherwise normally televise, and you have a problem if you’re Chocolatito.
The good news is there’s a couple big fights out there that both interest the boxing world and HBO execs. The most prominent choice at this time is a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada- a unified flyweight champion. Their first fight created fireworks and their second would determine the undisputed flyweight king.
Reports out of Estrada’s camp are that they want the fight but that Chocolatito was demanding too much money- something in the ballpark of a million dollars. In his win last night, Gonzalez earned a career high $300k. The jump to a million bucks is a steep one and he may need to be reasonable if he wants that main event spotlight.
The second fight on the radar of many is a showdown with Japanese sensation and two division champion, Naoya Inoue. Inoue is a junior bantamweight who’s 9-0 with 8 KO’s. With Chocolatito saying he only wants one more fight at flyweight and seemingly being physically ready to make the jump up to junior bantamweight as he weighed 126 last night, a matchup with Inoue is very much within the realm of possibiliy.
Chocolatito belongs to the renowned Teiken boxing gym in Japan. Akihiko Honda, the head of Teiken can easily make a fight with Ohashi Gym, to whom Inoue belongs, and create a mega event in Tokyo. The issue then becomes would HBO televise it with the time zone challenges? Certainly Inoue and Gonzalez could command a larger gate in Japan, than say Las Vegas, but if a strong card were put together, the Stub Hub Center in California, which routinely hosts wars from every division, may be an attractive alternative if it means getting HBO exposure.
The Gonzalez-Estrada rematch is ready to go and the fans want to see it. Looking ahead, if Gonzalez wants to remain a main event star then HBO should consider adding Inoue to the undercard to build his reputation to a wider audience. Regardless, Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez has had a wonderful career to this point and is ready for at least a couple main event shows. He may have to wait until he moves up a few more divisions before he’s a main event regular.