In what should be a great night of boxing, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) will face Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) in a rematch 8 years in the making. The rest of the card is also excellent with a rematch for the unified women’s welterweight title between Jessica McCaskill (9-2, 3 KOs) and Cecilia Braekhus (36-1, 9 KOs). Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9 KOs), the WBA light flyweight champion will also make his US debut.
Chocolatito and Estrada first met in 2012 for Chocolatito’s WBA light flyweight title. Chocolatito won a close unanimous decision after a terrific fight. Estrada went 15-1 since the first fight only losing to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a loss which he later avenged. He also won titles in 3 divisions during that stretch. Chocolatito extended his undefeated record to 49-0 before also tasting defeat against Srisaket, first by controversial decision in the 2017 Fight Of The Year and then by devastating KO in the rematch.
Chocolatito proved that he still had a lot left in the tank by knocking out Kal Yafai to win the WBA superflyweight belt and looked like his old self in his first defense of it against Israel Gonzalez.
Chocolatito is the finest pressure fighter the sport has seen in recent memory while Estrada is an excellent boxer-puncher with a blindingly fast lead hand. In the first fight Chocolatito’s constant pressure, volume and slightly more impactful punches allowed him to overcome Estrada’s quick bursts of offense and finish stronger in the championship rounds. He’s shown against Israel Gonzalez that he can still keep up that pace for a full 12 rounds, however he’s likely to face much more returning fire from Estrada. Super flyweight is the upper limit of what Chocolatito’s frame will support but coming from lower weight classes, Estrada doesn’t have the size and power advantage that caused him so much trouble against Srisaket. I’m leaning towards a Chocolatito win for those reasons but either way this checks out I can’t envision anything other than a high paced fight of the year contender.
In the co-main event the legendary Cecilia Braekhus will attempt to avenge the only loss of her career. Braekhus’ 11 year, 26 defenses title reign came to an end last year when Jessica McCaskill dragged her into a dirty war of attrition. The Norwegian definitely didn’t look her best but whether she actually deserved to lose the fight is a matter of debate. McCaskill landed the better shots of the fight with her right hand but Braekhus seemed to have a more consistent workrate over the course of the fight. For McCaskill, a repeat of the first bout’s strategy, exerting as much pressure as possible on the 39 year old Braekhus is the way to go. But I believe Braekhus will be more prepared for it after the first fight and should be able to get her revenge and cap off a great career on a high note.
Hiroto Kyoguchi is the former IBF minimumweight champion and moved up in 2018 to light flyweight where he became the WBA champion. He’s making his US debut against Axel “El Mini” Vega (14-3-1, 8 KOs). At 4’9” Vega is probably the smallest fighter I’ve ever seen, he compensates for his size with quickness and explosiveness, however his offense is limited to swinging hooks and he basically never throws a straight punch. He will make the fight fun and Kyoguchi will have to look out for his left hook early but this should be the perfect opponent for Kyoguchi to shine for the first time before an American audience. He’s a much better fighter at range and more varied on the inside. Kyoguchi should look to box him in the early rounds then turn up the pressure in the middle to late rounds where Vega has shown a tendency to fade before.
In addition to these three title fights, the highlight of the undercard is the return to the ring of 2016 bronze medallist Souleymane Cissokho (11-0, 7 KOs) at super welterweight. Cissokho is in my opinion the best prospect of the French 2016 Olympic class. As he’s been away from the ring for a year and a half, Daniel Echevarria (21-10, 18 KOs) is definitely a “shake off the rust” opponent but Cissokho is a fighter every boxing fan should keep an eye on.
Estrada vs Chocolatito II airs on DAZN at 8:00pm ET / 5:00pm PT on Saturday March 13th.
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