By Derek Bonnett: Boxing fans that want to keep a clear perspective of the landscape supporting the sport’s smallest divisions had better not blink. If you did, you were surprised by the resurgence of Brian Viloria in his upset of Ulises Solis, Rodel Mayol’s “fourth times a charm” KO of Edgar Sosa, and, most recently, Carlos Tamara’s come from behind KO to end Viloria’s brief stint near the top. In the coming months Mayol is likely to be challenged greatly, if not supplanted by Manuel Vargas. With challengers like Solis and Giovanni Segura out there, Tamara’s brand new reign is already in jeopardy. Nobody’s hot streak at 108 looks safe for the time being.
If you travel three pound south to 105, you’ll find a slightly steadier picture among the strawweight elite. However, this is only because world champions Roman Gonzalez, Oleydong Sithsamerchai, and Raul Garcia all received the benefit of some doubt on the scorecards in title fights last year. Now that each has survived to thrive in 2010, the landscape of the little men needs some finishing touches to provide a clearer picture of the best among the best.
Secondsout had the pleasure of speaking with Nicaragua’s WBA Strawweight Champion, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, 24-0 (20), and his manager Silvio Conrado about the team’s upcoming bout, the future of the elites, and some other tidbits of boxing importance to round out our gabfest. This is what transpired when Secondsout gave Gonzalez and Conrado the standing eight count.
1.) DB - Silvio, Roman has been out of the ring since July 2009. Is the Ivan Meneses fight on January 30 in Mexico expected to be a step down to work off some of the rust to start the year?
SC - This fight was originally expected to take place in early December. However, due to external factors, it had to be postponed. This obviously has us worried as Roman has been inactive for too long. God willing, our ideal situation is for him to defend his title every four months. In this particular case, Roman will be facing a Mexican fighter who has faced some top notch competition. Even though his record is not so impressive the quality of competition is. Therefore, we are not taking this fight lightly.
2.) DB - Roman, Ivan Meneses does have good experience, but has lost to most of his better opponents as Silvio stated. However, you struggled the last time you were in Mexico against Francisco Rosas. Are you looking to better impress the Mexican fans?
RG - Yes, my last fight in Mexico was not a good one. I was disappointed. I was suffering stomach problems and had diarrhea before the fight. I actually puked a little between rounds. If the referee had seen that he could have stopped the fight. I am really interested in causing a good impression. I want to win in good fashion, possibly by KO, in order to erase any doubt among Mexican fans about my quality as a world champion.
3.) DB - Silvio, having fought in Mexico numerous times now, are there any developments with a possible unification bout with Raul Garcia?
SC - That is actually the fight that we are looking for the most. We would love to try and unify against Garcia. However, Garcia will have his hands full real soon when he has to step up and fight Joyi from South Africa. I have sent numerous emails to Garcia’s manager (Edrulfo Castillo) and have contacted him indirectly through former world champ Erik Morales. However, he does not seem interested in viewing that option.
4.) DB - Roman, what did you think about your countrymen Juan Palacios’ loss to Oleydong Sithsamerchai in Thailand? How concerned are you about fighting in the country of your opponent?
RG - The most important fights of my career have been in foreign countries such as Mexico and Japan. I am kind of used to this by now and have the mindset not to put too much attention to the crowd. My opponent can have the best crowd in the world, but in the ring he is by himself with me. I was sorry to see Palacios lose. Sithsamerchai is a great champ. I would love to fight him. I honestly think that I can beat him soundly.
5.) DB - Silvio, after a mild 2009, what plans do you have for Roman in 2010 as his manager? What are your goals?
SC - Our goal is to keep him as active as possible. Ideally, we want him to fight every four months. We are working to achieve two potential scenarios, a unification bout at 105 pounds against any of the current champs or a possible title shot at 108 pounds.
6.) DB - Roman, how tempted are you to go back up to 108 for bigger money fights? Ivan Calderon doesn’t have much time left and appears ready to retire undefeated. Is that a fight you are interested in?
RG - Mr. Calderon was here in Nicaragua for a WBO card that was done in memory of Alexis Arguello. During his stay here he was not very nice with me. I felt disrespected so much that I actually challenged him in public. Since then I have not heard a peep from him.
7.) DB - Roman, Raul Garcia is traveling to South Africa to fight Nkosinathi Joyi in March 2010. Who do you expect to win?
RG - I don’t want to disrespect anybody, but my manager has given me videos of both fighters. I have seen both of them fight frequently. I have seen more videos of Garcia than of Joyi. From what I have seen it will be a good fight from start to finish. I think that Joyi’s style gives him an upper hand and there exists a good chance that Garcia’s reign will end soon.
8.) DB - Silvio, Manny Pacquiao turned professional at around the same weight as Roman. Do you think it is natural for a fighter to gain so much weight and be as successful as Pacquiao or do you think the allegations of him using performance enhancing drugs are believable?
SC - I believe in hard work and Manny’s training sessions are known worldwide for his hard work and intensity. If Manny Pacquiao made the same weight as Roman then he was a freak of nature in the mold of Celestino Caballero or Paul Williams. He would have been huge for that weight. But since he started young, it’s very possible for him to outgrow those weights quickly. I am nobody to judge Pacquiao. He has proven he is a great fighter and honestly I want to give him the benefit of any doubt. I do, however, think that for his safety he should [not move any higher.]
January 25, 2010