By John J. Raspanti
Revenge can be a great motivator.
Last March, defending WBC flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez faced challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin vs. Danny Jacobs middleweight championship fight.
Gonzalez,30, was expected to prevail. The four-division titleholder entered the contest undefeated in 46 bouts, with 38 knockouts. Many called him the best fighter on the planet.
A victory over Sor Rungvisai would set up a rematch with Carlos Cuadras. Gonzalez defeated Cuadras the previous September in an exciting 12-round battle.
Cuadras was on board. A rematch made sense.
But as poet Robert Burns said, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
Sor Rungvisai had other ideas. The determined 30-year-old southpaw from Thailand, who captured the 115-pound belt in 2013, had won 14 consecutive fights since losing his crown to Cuadras in 2014.
Before the bout, K2 Promotions’ managing director Tom Loeffler talked about how dangerous an opponent Sor Rungvisai would be. Many considered his words hyperbole.
Loeffler wasn’t wrong. Sor Rungvisai was dangerous. He floored Gonzalez in the opening stanza and battled for the next 11 rounds. Gonzalez, with blood streaming from a cut near his red eye caused by a headbutt, fought back. He nailed Sor Rungvisai with numerous shots to the body and head—and appeared to have the edge after 12 bloody rounds.
Two of three judges disagreed, scoring the match 114-112 for Sor Rungvisai. The other scored the bout a draw. Maxboxing.com favored Gonzalez by two points.
Gonzalez was stunned.
“I was not happy with the ruling,” Gonzalez told www.boxingscene.com after the fight. “I know it was a difficult fight but I never imagined that I would lose.”
Many in the crowd agreed with him. Boos cascaded throughout Madison Square Garden. Gonzalez immediately asked for a rematch. Sor Rungvisai was agreeable.
"I always saw Roman among the best pound for pound fighters, but I am ready to defeat him yet again,” said Sor Rungvisai. “The fans will see a great war."
Gonzalez, who captured his first world title nine years ago, is primed and ready to go.
“The rematch with Rungvisai is the most important task in my life right now,” Gonzalez told RingTV.com. “I know this will be a hard fight, but I am training like never before.”
Gonzalez has looked a little shopworn in his last two bouts. It could be age or tough fights. These factors tend to sneak up on smaller fighters.
If this is the case, Gonzalez may struggle again this Saturday.
I think we’ll see a better prepared Gonzalez who’ll box more and win back his title decisively.