BOXING

Fall of the Roman Empire: Srisaket KOs Chocolatito

No Controversy This Time: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Knocks Roman Gonzalez Out Cold

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai didn’t get enough credit after his first victory over Roman Gonzalez, a narrow majority decision in a fight that many felt Gonzalez deserved to win.

There’s no need to argue anymore. It’s clear who the better super flyweight is.

Sor Rungvisai ended all debate by ending their rematch in the fourth round, scoring two knockdowns and leaving “Chocolatito” Gonzalez out cold, his back flat on the canvas, his lights turned off.

It was a shocking ending.

The gritty Sor Rungvisai again pushed Gonzalez with activity from the outset. Gonzalez had a slow first round but began to find his rhythm in the second and third. Sor Rungvisai still seemed to be getting the better of their exchanges. Gonzalez was also visibly annoyed by occasional head clashes, which had been an issue in their first fight and had opened up a cut on Gonzalez back in March.

We seemed to be in for another battle. Yet unlike before, Gonzalez wasn’t holding his own as much, which meant he wasn’t really able to hold Sor Rungvisai off.

His desire to stand and trade — likely his instinct — proved to be his undoing.
Gonzalez was in-range and in the process of throwing a right cross about 30 seconds into the fourth round when Sor Rungvisai sent out a southpaw right hook that dropped Chocolatito to the canvas. Gonzalez rose and didn’t try to move or hold, but rather went back to it.

Sor Rungvisai continued to throw and land. Gonzalez got one right hand in. Sor Rungvisai kept coming forward with more. Gonzalez tried another right, and once again Sor Rungvisai landed his hook. Gonzalez went down for the second time. This time he was out.

Sor Rungvisai is now 44-4-1 with 40 knockouts. He’s made the most of his opportunities — in more ways than you may know. Sor Rungvisai was so poor as a teenager that he ate food out of the garbage, according to Boxing News Today. He won a world title at 115 pounds back in 2013 but lost it a year later to Carlos Cuadras in a fight that was cut short when Cuadras was badly cut from a clash of heads.

He deserved another shot at the title but had to wait nearly three years for it. By then, it was Gonzalez who held the WBC belt, having defeated Cuadras last year. Sor Rungvisai triumphed against a fighter seen as being the best in the world, pound-for-pound. And when people derided his victory, Sor Rungvisai trained for twice as long — four months instead of two — to make sure that all he had worked for and all he had gone through wouldn’t be for naught.

Now Sor Rungvisai can look toward more big fights, and perhaps more big paydays — if HBO continues to feature super flyweights like it did Saturday, even though Gonzalez is likely out of the picture. He owes a fight to Juan Francisco Estrada, who edged Cuadras on the undercard (more on that below). And there’s also the prospect of a unification bout with Naoya Inoue, also featured on the undercard, staying busy with a six-round demolition of overmatched Antonio Nieves.

Inoue as described fittingly in his nickname as a “Monster.” But as Sor Rungvisai has shown in his past two fights, he’s not one to be intimidated.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, fell (literally) to 46-2 with 38 KOs. A year ago, he stood atop the pound-for-pound list. Now he may very well need to retreat out of the super flyweight division so that he can try to rebuild his career.

Not that losing to Sor Rungvisai is something to be ashamed of. But there may be other contributing factors at play in addition to how good and how tough Sor Rungvisai has proven to be.

Gonzalez is 30, has fought as a pro for 12 years, and has had 48 pro fights. Time and wear and tear don’t accumulate the same way for every fighter. It’s possible that Gonzalez has peaked, that the accumulated punishment from recent battles has begun to add up. The weight may also be a factor. Gonzalez won title belts at 105 and 108, was the lineal champion at 112, and then moved up to 115 last year.

Three pounds can make a world of difference. There, his power didn’t have as much of an effect as it once had. His opponents were better able to deal with it, and they could also dish it out. Gonzalez was still highly competitive against the top super flyweights because of his skills, speed and, yes, the remaining force of his punches. Yet he got caught and marked up against Cuadras last year, was hit repeatedly by Sor Rungvisai in March, and was on the receiving end yet again Saturday night.

Then came the two big punches that he never saw coming.

If Gonzalez fights on from here, then it would be wise for him to return to flyweight. But if he decides that enough is enough, know that Gonzalez was great for much longer than the 28 months he spent in the HBO spotlight.

Roman Gonzalez was one of the best for several reasons. He stepped up and took on tough challenges. He finally ran into a challenge that was just too tough for him to conquer.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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