Roman Gonzalez Next Fight: McWilliams Arroyo a Great Opponent for Chocolatito

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez’s 2016 campaign to defend his pound-for-pound throne is finally off the ground against McWilliams Arroyo.

Roman Gonzalez - Marilyn Paulino (1) Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez’s 2016 campaign to defend his pound-for-pound throne is finally off the ground against McWilliams Arroyo.

BoxingScene.com’s Jake Donovan, put the boxing world’s mind at ease when he reported that Arroyo, not Juan Hernandez, would be opposite of Gonzalez in April in support of middleweight executioner Gennady Golovkin.

Getting to this point has not been easy.

In January the Nicaraguan flyweight’s manager Carlos Blandon expected his man back in action by February or early March. There were disturbing reports that a fight with Giovanni Segura was on deck. Fans were legitimately worried for Segura’s health after Juan Francisco Estrada ran the 11-year veteran through a wood chipper in his last fight.

Chocolatito was even rumored to be headlining his own show on March 5. This was troubling.

That date conflicted with UFC 196, the mixed martial arts promotion’s biggest event of the year, featuring three UFC champions including one Conor McGregor.

There was an eerie feeling that HBO was setting Gonzalez up to fail. Any fighter under 126 pounds already has enough trouble becoming a draw because of casual fans’ almost exclusive interest in action above 200 pounds.

But, alas, this week two frontrunners emerged for the co-feature slot opposite of Gonzalez in April: Arroyo, of Puerto Rico, and Hernandez, out of Mexico.

Arroyo was the obvious choice here, he is considered the No. 8 flyweight in the world by the TBRB and The Ring. Hernandez has hardly competed at flyweight let alone earn a crack at the best boxer in the division.

“Juanito” Hernandez (30-2, 21 KOs) is a competent switch-hitter. He was last seen at 115 pounds taking apart Jesus Silvestre, who challenged Hekkie Budler for his strawweight belts last year.

The 28-year-old Mexican received a shot at WBC minimumweight champion Kazuto Ioka in 2011 after a solid run at 105 pounds, beating title challengers Ivan Meneses and Denver Cuello; and edging former minimumweight belt holder and first-class light flyweight Moises Fuentes.

Hernandez was unsuccessful, sustaining a busted nose, cut right eyelid and a pair of roasted ribs for his role in a wide decision loss to Ioka.

While unbeaten at 12-0 ever since, the only notable name on his ledger remains former trinket holder Ramon Garcia Hirales. At 33—ancient for the little men—Hirales is only around to pad records of younger boxers.

For his minimal effort, the WBC, who are always pleased to fast track a Mexico-based fighter to a title shot, rate Hernandez No. 3 at 112 pounds.

Gonzalez, of course, isn’t just the WBC champion. The Nicaraguan is also the undisputed lineal flyweight champion after crushing Akira Yaegashi, who beat Toshiyuki Igarashi, who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, who knocked out Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and so forth.

It is the most prestigious and enduring lineage in boxing, dating back to when Hall of Famer Miguel Canto leveled and outboxed the Japanese technician Shoji Oguma in 1975.

Chocolatito has carried the title with pride, only defending the crown against Top 10 opposition in Rocky Fuentes, Edgar Sosa and Brian Viloria.

A fight with Arroyo (16-2, 14 KOs) continues the tradition.

McWilliams and his twin McJoe, the IBF super flyweight champion, make up the best brother combination in boxing.

Arroyo, the more decorated amateur, exhibits a polished fighting style indicative of the world amateur championship he won in 2009 and his run, alongside his brother, at the 2008 Olympics.

In the professional ranks, he fights with venom in his blood and TNT in his gloves, knocking out world title challengers Lorenzo Trejo and Ronald Ramos.

In 2010, Takashi Okada upset Arroyo but only after a blistering affair of phone booth violence. It is one of the best scheduled four-round fights in recent memory.

McWilliams touched the canvas for the only time in his career. That is, legitimately.

IBF flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng shoved Arroyo to the mat on numerous occasions when they met in 2014.

The Puerto Rican returned the favor courtesy of an overhand right-left hook combination that floored the defending champ for the first knockdown of his career.

Arroyo fought well enough to give Ruenroeng, the nightmare that he is, the closest scrap of his 2014-15 crusade on the flyweight ranks. It was a stretch of 18 months that bore witness to the Thai roughing up and picking off four Top 10 flyweights (per TBRB).

When the two met up Arroyo was in hostile territory, fighting in Ruenroeng’s backyard of Thailand, his first time in Asia since competing with headgear.

Ruenroeng fights with the mean, nasty spirit of Sandy Saddler, tangling up opponents with the longest reach in the division; and cranking on neck when the opportunity presents itself.

The final scorecards revealed a tight split decision in favor of the hometown champ. Anywhere but Thailand, Ruenroeng probably walks away with a disqualification loss before Round 10.

Nonetheless, he reigns as boxing’s most avoided titlist.

That is the kind of fighter Arroyo took to the brink. That makes Arroyo just the man to take on Gonzalez.

To Top