Roman Gonzalez: ‘Chocolatito’ Gets Some HBO Love

Boxing viewers aren’t used to catching flyweights on major networks. Usually, we’re forced to watch them on grainy youtube videos or in quick highlight spots. But then again, most flyweights don’t fight like Roman Gonzalez.

The reason that he’s shot up the pound-for-pound ranks — he’s currently just below Floyd Mayweather at #2 in the world, according to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board — despite being less known than some boxers’ wives is the way he goes about his job. He’s absolutely lethal. His style has been noted by some as being somewhat similar to the man he’s warming up the crowd for on Saturday night, middleweight Gennady Golovkin.

Gonzalez (42-0, 36 KO’s) keeps a high guard while patiently coming forward, always stalking, but never frantic; he’s always in control. He throws every punch well, and he’s got devastating power for such a small guy. And that’s always the eye opener — you could be a heavyweight, flyweight, or a dwarf. If you can knock somebody stiff, people will watch.

That is something he specializes in. While Golovkin’s KO streak hit a ridiculous 19 after his beatdown of Martin Murray, Gonzalez has stopped his last eight opponents, dating back to 2012. And he does it in a variety of ways. He has a nasty right hand that he sets up with a stiff jab. But he can weave and hook just as easily, catching his man with something he doesn’t see.

Or, he can just take his time and brutalize opponents, systematically breaking fighters down over time until they wilt from punishment. However he does it, he gets the damn job done.

And so he’ll lead off the telecast on HBO Saturday night when he takes on 87-year-old Edgar Sosa in what will probably amount to a showcase massacre. Sosa is a tough guy and a solid fighter, but at this stage in his career, he’s swimming into shark territory here. Gonzalez should utterly dominate from the start, and the bout may not go very long.

Still, there’s a reason to watch — Gonzalez appears to be special,  with a unique blend of technique and power compelling enough for every boxing fan to want to get in on. And with many fans still smarting over the shitfest that was May 2, HBO was wise to add Gonzalez to the broadcast. We should see two knockouts on Saturday, but with Golovkin fighting a southpaw known for boxing and moving, Gonzalez might steal the show.

And who knows, Sosa might surprise as and give us a throwback performance. He defeated Brian Viloria a few years ago in his signature victory, and he’s been in some crowd-pleasing fights. But he’ll need to fight the battle of his life to give “Chocolatito,” who is simply on another planet right now, a serious run.

The smallest weight divisions have been mostly ignored for years by major boxing outlets in the U.S. If you take a look through the divisional rankings, you’ll notice that there aren’t a whole lot of Americans on the list. The other problem is that few of these guys can bring the pain the way Gonzalez does.

But guys like him eventually come around and help push the smaller guys into the public eye. He’s gotten himself to where he needs to be, on a huge card at The Forum. And it helps that just one week ago, junior middleweight Canelo Alvarez’ skull-pounding of James Kirkland did massive numbers.

In other words, the iron is fucking roasting right now. The table is set for Gonzalez to put on a memorable performance that will have the boxing world buzzing. There aren’t a ton of well-known guys in and around his division right now, but there doesn’t necessarily have to be. Vic Darchinyan was a staple of Showtime for years. The same goes for Nonito Donaire.

HBO might have a long-term plan for Gonzalez. Frankly, they’d be stupid not to. He’s must-see-TV, even if he’s a bit on the diminutive side.

Just don’t tell him that.