Former junior bantamweight titlist Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez will get his wish for an immediate rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
After Gonzalez lost his 115-pound world title -- and his status as the widely viewed pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter -- to Sor Rungvisai on March 18 his co-promoters, Teiken Promotions and K2 Promotions, formally requested that the WBC order a rematch. On Tuesday, the sanctioning body approved the request and ordered the fight.
Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from Thailand, regained the belt he had previously held but did so in highly controversial fashion, despite knocking Gonzalez down in the first round on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Gonzalez, a four-division world champion from Nicaragua, suffered two bad cuts because of accidental head-butts but otherwise appeared to land the much heavier punches. Still, he wound up losing a majority decision by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 113-113.
Virtually everyone at ringside saw Gonzalez as the clear winner of the action-packed fight that stands as the fight of the year favorite in the early going.
"The WBC Board of Governors considers that due to the extraordinary fight, which was extremely close, and considering that the WBC championship rules regarding accidental head butts were not used, but most importantly, considering the public demand to witness once again a great match between these two great fighters, the WBC has granted the request by unanimous vote to order the rematch between Sor Rungvisai and Gonzalez," WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said in a statement.
A WBC rule stipulates that if an accidental head-butt causes one of the fighters to suffer a cut, the uncut fighter is penalized one point. The rule is not used in the United States, however. If the rule was in play, Sor Rungvisai would have had two points deducted, and the 29-year-old Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) would have retained the title via majority draw.
Gonzalez's cuts are healing well and he wants the rematch with Sor Rungvisai, manager Carlos Blandon told ESPN.
"We know we have to wait for Roman's wounds to heal, but that has gone well," Blandon said. "As soon as we landed [in Nicaragua], we took him to plastic surgeon Dr. Mario Lacayo, who did a great job, and now we are just waiting for it to completely heal. We would love a rematch but for now we are letting Roman to rest and his battle wounds to heal. Whichever fight comes next Roman will be ready. It was a tough night for us but we will bounce back."
Gonzalez needed four stitches to close the cut over his right eye and six more to close the cut closer to his scalp.
"The doctors recommended a two-month rest," Blandon said. "Roman will be ready to fight whoever after a well-deserved rest."
Former junior bantamweight titlist Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1, 27 KOs), 28, of Mexico, was due to receive a mandatory rematch with the Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez winner next. Cuadras won a head-butt-induced eighth-round technical decision against Sor Rungvisai to claim the belt in 2014 before losing it to Gonzalez in September. He won a 10-round decision against Mexico City rival David Carmona on the March 18 card.
But because Sor Rungvisai and Gonzalez will both be sidelined for a few months after their grueling fight -- and because they have been ordered to fight each other again upon their returns -- the WBC also ordered Tuesday that Cuadras should next fight former unified flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2, 25 KOs), 26, of Mexico, for the vacant interim title. Estrada has won nine fights in a row since losing a highly competitive unanimous decision to Gonzalez in a 2012 junior flyweight title fight.
The WBC said the winners of Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez II and Cuadras-Estrada then would be ordered to face each other.
"The WBC is very pleased with this ruling that will provide a series of great fights in the (junior bantamweight) division, which is very important for boxing and for the boxers," Sulaiman said.