Undercard Overview: Chocolatito
& Cuadras Face Challenges
By Nat Gottlieb Courtesy of HBO.com
Throughout his much-heralded career, when unbeaten Roman
“Chocolatito” Gonzalez stepped into the ring, fans expected
only two results: either he would score another breathtaking
knockout, or use his dazzling array of boxing skills to earn
a unanimous decision by wide margin.
But that was Gonzalez’s boxing life before he stepped into
the ring last year with super flyweight champion Carlos
Cuadras, a naturally bigger fighter. In a sensational bout
in which 1,822 punches were thrown, Cuadras not only gave
Gonzalez the toughest fight of his career, but also left the
Nicaraguan with a swollen face filled with bruises. Gonzalez
won the fight to remain unbeaten, but his aura of
invincibility was suddenly brought into question.
The Nicaraguan will get the chance to dispel any doubts
about his spot atop the boxing world when he takes on
Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a rugged boxer with
one-punch knockout power, on March 18 at Madison Square
Garden on HBO PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KOs) will join Gonzalez on the Gennady
Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard, taking on David Carmona
(20-3-5, 8 KOs), a Mexican rival hungry to prove he belongs
in the mix with the best of the super flyweight division.
Although there’s been talk of a rematch with Gonzalez,
Cuadras will have to not only beat Carmona, but do so
impressively in order to get a second shot at the
In the hard-hitting Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38 KOs), Gonzalez
will be tangling with a fighter who’s virtually unknown
outside of Thailand. But that doesn’t mean he should be
taken lightly by Gonzalez. Although Cuadras came into the
ring with Gonzalez wearing a super flyweight world title,
like Rungvisai, he was largely unknown outside of his native
country of Mexico.
Can Rungvisai, a former world champion, duplicate what
Cuadras did and give Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) a run for his
money? Tom Loeffler, the managing director of the
Nicaraguan’s American promoter, K2 Promotions, wouldn’t be
surprised if he did.
“Rungvisai is a very dangerous puncher that definitely
earned his right to challenge for the championship,”
Loeffler says. “This should be a tremendous matchup.”
This is not just promoter hype. There’s a good reason that
Loeffler believes Rungvisai will be competitive against
Gonzalez. The Thai boxer and Gonzalez share a common
opponent in Cuadras. Rungvisai traveled from Thailand to
fight on Cuadras’ home turf, and he battled the Mexican
every bit as hard as Gonzalez did before losing a technical
decision on an accidental head butt in the eighth round.
Many observers felt that had the bout not been stopped,
Rungvisai had a real chance to win.
The scorecards at the time were certainly close enough to
suggest that. At the stoppage, the judges had it scored in
favor of Cuadras, 78-74, 77-75 and 77-76. One can’t say what
would have happened in the later rounds had the fight not
been stopped, but the closeness of the scorecards
legitimately raises the possibility that Rungvisai could’ve
won. Since that fight, the southpaw has reeled off 14
straight stoppages, albeit against suspect opposition in
Some might underestimate Rungvisai because the Thai has
three other losses on his record, but that record is
misleading. Rungvisai was thrown to the wolves early in his
career. In his debut he was knocked out by a rising
contender and future champion. In his second and fifth
bouts, he was again overmatched against much more
experienced boxers. Until proven otherwise, Rungvisai has a
fighter’s chance to upset Gonzalez.
One reason for optimism in Rungvisai’s camp is that he has
fought virtually all of his bouts in the super flyweight
division. Gonzalez, on the other hand, will be boxing for
just the second time in the weight class.
After Cuadras gave Gonzalez such a tough fight, some
wondered if the Nicaraguan, who was competing and winning a
title in his fourth weight division, was getting in too deep
at super flyweight.
Loeffler, however, doesn’t give much currency to the notion
that Gonzalez may not be able to duplicate his dominance
over the naturally bigger fighters in the division.
“Anytime someone moves up four weight divisions after they
are already in their prime, it makes it more challenging by
fighting bigger guys,” Loeffler says. “But Chocolatito
fights at such a high level, I think he could be competing
at this world class for a long time. I have not heard Roman
talk about retirement. He is still in the prime of his
career and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.”
A big reason to believe Gonzalez will be able to handle
Rungvisai more easily than he did Cuadras is the Thai’s
style of boxing seems tailor-made for him. Whereas Cuadras
moved around the ring with his superior footwork and made
Gonzalez work hard to engage him, Rungvisai is a plodder who
will be standing right in front of the champion trying to
press the action.
Another difference between Rungvisai and Cuadras is how much
each uses the jab. Cuadras has a terrific jab, and he fired
it with abandon in Gonzalez’s face during the early rounds.
Rungvisai rarely bothers to use the punch. Of course, the
Thai boxer may very well have a top-notch jab, but simply
didn’t need to use it against inferior opponents in his
native country. Against Cuadras, Rungvisai did employ the
jab several times, but he didn’t seem to throw it with much
Whatever the case, unless the knockout power Rungvisai
displayed in Thailand is the real deal, it’s likely that
Gonzalez, who has never tasted canvas, will outbox the
challenger easily and use his own impressive power to test
the Thai fighter’s chin.
Cuadras also faces something of an unknown commodity in
Carmona, who has decent hand speed and likes to use his left
hook to do most of his damage. Carmona also has championship
experience, having fought and lost two title fights. In his
last bout, he took on the undefeated and much-ballyhooed
super flyweight champion, Naoya Inoue, in Japan. While
Carmona didn’t win, he became the first boxer to take Inoue
the distance, losing a unanimous decision by a wide margin.
For Cuadras, the stakes are clear. Based on his performance
against Gonzalez, he looks like he belongs with the elite
core of super flyweights. But that perception would quickly
change if he either loses to Carmona, or doesn’t dominate
Also on the televised portion of the card is Ryan Martin
(17-0, 8 KOs), a slick former Olympic hopeful who’s being
touted as a future force to be reckoned with in the
lightweight division. Martin will be facing Bryan Cruz
(17-1, 8 KOs), an unheralded prospect from Port Chester,
N.Y. Martin is an unusually tall lightweight at 5-foot-11,
with a broad upper body, and appears to have the size
potential to be a welterweight.
“Ryan Martin is a tremendous talent,” Loeffler says. “He’s
in a tough matchup against a New York local favorite, who is
looking to shine in front of his home town crowd.”
Martin is well thought of enough to have attracted the
attention of trainer Abel Sanchez, who has conditioned many
champions, including Golovkin. Martin worked with Sanchez at
high altitude in Big Bear, Calif., for the first half of his
fight preparation, before finishing up with his regular
coach, Joe Delguyd, in Cleveland.