As pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was on his way to a highly competitive unanimous decision win against Carlos Cuadras to secure a junior bantamweight world title Saturday night before an excited crowd of 6,714 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, there was a very interested ringside observer.
Fellow junior bantamweight titlist Naoya “Monster” Inoue (11-0, 9 KOs), the 23-year-old Japanese prodigy, was there to get a good look at an opponent who looms in his future if boxing fans get their way.
Gonzalez-Inoue is a super fight in the small weight classes. Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) is the P4P king and with his win against Cuadras gave him a world title in a fourth weight class to surpass all-time great Nicaraguan countryman and mentor Alexis Arguello, who won titles in three weight classes but failed twice to win a fourth title. He got knocked out twice by fellow Hall of Famer Aaron Pryor.
Inoue won a junior flyweight world title in only his sixth professional fight in 2014, made one defense and then jumped up two weight classes to demolish veteran titleholder Omar Narvaez in the second round to win a junior bantamweight world title in his eighth professional fight later in 2014. Inoue has defended his belt three times and a fight with Gonzalez, who is well known in Japan from having fought there so many times, would be a big deal.
His presence at ringside was not lost on Gonzalez, who made a career-high $400,000 for his effort against Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KOs) who earned a career-high $250,000 for the HBO main event.
“With pleasure I would face Naoya Inoue,” Gonzalez said when asked about the possible fight after defeating Cuadras in a tremendously entertaining fight.
When asked if he believed his fourth title win was good enough to surpass Arguello as his country’s best fighter, Gonzalez, 29, said no.
“Alexis Arguello will always be No. 1,” he said. “He is my teacher and I am his son.”
A Gonzalez-Inoue fight probably won’t happen in the next bout for either fighter but it could go down at some point next year. Before the serious prospect of the fight, Gonzalez said he would be willing to give Mexico’s Cuadras a rematch after what he said was the hardest fight of his career.
“This was the most difficult fight of my career. I’ve never fought at this weight before, but I felt I won the fight,” said Gonzalez, who was greeted by thousands of supporters at the airport upon his return to Nicaragua. “I wasn’t hurt to the body, but I definitely felt the head blows.
“In all the fights I can learn something. I have never got such a swollen face before. It was a great fight. I have no excuses and we are ready for a rematch because he deserves it. Cuadras is a great fighter, who endured much.”
Cuadras, who lost by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113, would like a rematch.
“Roman is an excellent fighter. I can't and I won't deny it,” he said. “I want the rematch and I assure you I will bring back the belt to Mexico. It was close but I think I won. He’s never been hit that much in his career, just look at his face.
“He is relentless. He didn’t get tired all night. His defense was better than I expected. He was stopping my shots with his arms and coming right back with his own punches.”