There is another major combat sports event on this evening besides UFC 272. At the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, CA, Matchroom Boxing has a card on DAZN topped by the return of the great Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (50-3, 41 KOs). The Nicaraguan great and four-division world champion was supposed to be in a championship bout, but instead will take on WBC flyweight king Julio Cesar Martinez (18-1-2 NCs, 14 KOs), who’s moving up in weight for this one... and then some.
The DAZN main card starts at 8:30 PM ET, with early prelim action live at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT.
Here’s the skinny on this card.
What was the original fight?
A trilogy between Chocolatito and Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada. Gonzalez won the first fight way back in 2012 when they were both junior flyweights, and Estrada narrowly took the rematch last year in one of the best fights of 2021. Unfortunately, the rubber match has twice been called off due to COVID-19 positives. On this occasion, it’s Estrada who’s tested positive and unable to make it to the bout.
What’s at stake?
There’s no title on the line, but the winner you would assume will take on Estrada next.
Is this fight even going to happen?
Yes. You see, Martinez somehow managed to miss weight by over a pound even though this is above the weight class he normally competes at. Martinez took this fight back in January so it’s not like this was some extremely short notice fight for him.
California State Athletic Commission rules that if Martinez rehydrated to above 132 1⁄4 lbs then the fight is automatically off. Luckily that didn’t happen and he was even within the 10% CSAC limit to avoid additional fines on Saturday, so we’re good.
Martinez, as fun as he may be, has now developed a reputation for not being reliable to make it to fight day. He’s had multiple fight cancellations due to injuries and now we have this terrible weight miss.
Weight miss aside, how good is this matchup?
It’s great. There’s every reason to believe this will be an all-action war given the styles of both men. Gonzalez was written off by some after his two straight losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but he bounced back with four consecutive wins, snagging the WBA super-flyweight title from Kal Yafai along the way in 2020. ‘Chocolatito’ was perhaps unlucky to lose the rematch with Estrada but there’s no denying that he is still an offensive machine with free-flowing combinations that make you vigorously defend both the head and the body. His workrate is phenomenal and his power is fantastic.
Martinez is a heavy puncher in his own right and has a penchant for swinging big hooks at his opponents. You’re not here to watch Martinez jab and obviously Martinez isn’t interested in that, either. He stopped Cristofer Rosales to win the vacant WBC flyweight title... which he should’ve won sooner had he not hit Charlie Edwards after he was knocked down in what was a title defense for Edwards. Charlie vacated the belt, paving the way for Martinez to get gold.
If Gonzalez is a technical marvel, Martinez is a bit of a wild man and his defense can be exploited. Against McWilliams Arroyo, he scored a knockdown in the opening round but was dropped himself. The fight unfortunately ended due to a clash of heads so it’s a no contest on his record, but it did underscore that Martinez can be cracked especially in crazier exchanges.
Plain and simple: many punches will be thrown. You will have a hard time keeping up with the pace.
Anything interesting on the undercard?
There are a host of prospects worth your attention. Super middleweight Diego Pacheco (13-0, 10 KOs) and lightweight Marc Castro (5-0, 5 KOs) are on the card, and there’s also the pro debut of Australian Olympian and women’s amateur standout Skye Nicolson.
Lightweight Angel Fierro (19-1-1, 15 KOs) against veteran Juan Carlos Burgos (34-6-2, 21 KOs). Fierro had a stunning KO of former world champion Alberto Machado last year after being down twice in the opening portion of the contest.
Featherweight Mauricio Lara (23-2-1, 16 KOs) rose to prominence in 2021 with his unbelievable thrashing of Josh Warrington in one of the biggest upsets of the year. The Mexican’s rematch ended in a technical draw after a clash of heads busted up Lara’s face. Lara will take on Emilio Sanchez (19-1, 12 KOs)
Who will win?
I’ve got Chocolatito by 8th round KO, but Martinez’s power is still very much worth respecting even if he has a wild fighting style. I just see Martinez being ripe for Gonzalez to counterpunch effectively and to not back down when JCM tries to bully him and overwhelm him with his speed and power.
DraftKings Sportsbook has Gonzalez slightly favored at -140, with Martinez fetching +115 underdog money.