Who says sequels can't top the original?
It did Saturday night when Juan Francisco Estrada defeated Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez by split decision in an extremely close, fight of the year-quality bout at American Airlines Center in Dallas to win the WBA, the WBC and The Ring magazine junior bantamweight titles.
Eight years after their first action-packed bout won by Gonzalez (50-3, 41 KOs), Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs) exacted his revenge in a match that could have gone either way. The two combined for 2,529 punches -- a junior bantamweight record -- and landed 705, according to CompuBox. They combined for 2,133 punches in their first bout.
The scorecards Saturday night read 115-113 Gonzalez, 117-111 Estrada and 115-113 Estrada. The 117-111 score was shockingly wide, but the two 115-113 scores were representative of a fight with two boxers putting on a nonstop show.
Immediately afterward, sensing there was unfinished business with their rivalry split at 1-1, Estrada called for a trilogy fight to settle it all.
"I think I did enough to win. Chocolatito is a great fighter, and I think he deserves a trilogy," Estrada said on the DAZN broadcast. "I knew it was a close fight. I didn't know if I was up or down, but I knew I had to close out the fight in the last two rounds."
Gonzalez was gracious and emotional in defeat, saying, "Whatever happened, happened, but I gave it a great fight." The four-division champion said the result was what "God wanted" and that he would welcome a third bout with Estrada.
"It was a better fight than the first one," Estrada said. "I felt strong, and I felt like I won. In the last round, I gave it all. It was a great round."
Estrada's win could set in motion the conclusion of a set of trilogies. Estrada noted after the fight that his mandatory challenger is Srisaket Sor Rungvisai -- a man he also has split two bouts with over the past few years. Rungvisai won the first bout by majority decision in February 2018, with Estrada winning the rematch by unanimous decision in April 2019.
Rungvisai, who also has two wins over Gonzalez, stepped aside to let Estrada-Gonzalez 2 happen. Now, Rungvisai will likely want his shot at settling the trilogy fight with Estrada.
Gonzalez, who despite starting a bit slow was the aggressor for much of the fight, had the advantage over Estrada in every CompuBox category Saturday night except body punching (89-31 Estrada). The 90 power punches landed in Round 12 (51 by Gonzalez, 39 by Estrada) is a single-round junior bantamweight record, per CompuBox.
The hope is that Part 3 of this must-see thriller happens far sooner than the eight-year wait for Part 2.