By Marc Livitz: Although Gennady "GGG" Golovkin’s March 18 showdown with Danny "Miracle Man" Jacobs will receive top billing at Madison Square Garden, the co-main event has a great opportunity to steal the evening’s thunder. Situated in an almost neck and neck position near the top of boxing’s pound-for-pound rankings alongside Golovkin is WBC super flyweight champion, Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez. The small but powerful puncher from Managua, Nicaragua recently won his fourth world title in as many divisions last September in Los Angeles with a unanimous decision win over Carlos Cuadras of Mexico City.
Much like Golovkin, Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KO’s) has become a fan favorite in the United States much in part due to his eye pleasing fighting style and willingness to trade shots in order to appease the masses. Hailing from the same country as legendary champion, the late Alexis "El Flaco Explosivo" Arguello, Roman Gonzalez carries the hopes and dreams of his country upon his back with great pride. On March 18, he’ll defend his title against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38 KO’s) of Thailand shortly after his previous opponent Carlos Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KO’s) meets up with fellow Distrito Federal native, David Carmona (20-3-5, 8 KO’s).
After being handed the first defeat of his professional career at the hands of Gonzalez, "Principe" Cuadras would like nothing more than to get back into the ring with him in a surefire, entertaining rematch. For now though, each man will have to not only wait for such a chance, but get past their respective opponents in just over a week’s time as well. On Thursday afternoon, Gonzalez and Cuadras participated (separately) in an international media conference call to discuss their upcoming bouts at The Garden. Promoters and trainers were part of the call as well.
Selected Highlights Listed Below
Tom Loeffler, Managing Director, K2 Promotions: "We couldn’t be more excited to have Chocolatito back on the bill with "Triple G". On any other night, of course this would be the the main event. He won his fourth world title in his fourth weight division."
Carlos Blandon, Manager of Roman Gonzalez: "We are really excited and happy to be showcasing Roman’s talent in the "Mecca of Boxing". This should be an excellent fight night. We also have Carlos Cuadras on the bill."
Opening Statement, Roman Gonzalez: "We’re ready for next Saturday. Everything has gone great in camp and it’s once again an honor to share the night with Gennady Golovkin.
On Fighting in the United States: "The Forum in Los Angeles was a great atmosphere and the fans from Nicaragua and Mexico came out to support me. I think it shows that I can help fill a large arena like that. So, sharing the building with Gennady Golovkin will be good for me and I know I’ll have that support from Nicaraguan fans."
On Defeating Carlos Cuadras after moving up in weight: "I’ve always had respect for my opponents and that was a tough fight at 115 (lbs.). I never thought it would be easy and I think what happened was just me getting used to the greater weight."
Thoughts on Returning to Nicaragua after the Victory: "That was a very memorable day. People were lined up in the streets and the people of Nicaragua gave me their love. It motivates me and makes me so happy. Now that I’ve won this world title, I have to hold onto it."
On Training in Costa Rica: "Each camp is very good. Costa Rica feels more like I’m home in Nicaragua and I am so much more relaxed here. The weather is similar and there’s beaches, too."
Being a Fan Favorite: "My fights are for the public. I just want to move forward and make people happy with my performance."
Thoughts on a Rematch with Cuadras: "I want that, yes. From a legacy standpoint, I have accomplished a lot. I do want to earn higher purses and more money. I think a second fight with Carlos Cuadras could do that but for now, I want to hold onto this world title. I think about going for a fifth title in a fifth division, but for now I need to defend this championship."
"Different rivals bring different challenges. I’m expecting a great fight and I want to put on a great show for the fans. Of course, I need to do my best to make sure my hand is raised at the end of the night. I realize that I must train harder. I believe that the second fight will be better. I know him more because of the time we shared together and I’m confident that I’ll get the knockout in our second fight."
Verbal Jabs from Cuadras: "He can get into a verbal match with me all he wants and act like a clown, but that’s not me. I’m all about fighting in the smaller weight classes and making that my priority."
Carlos Cuadras, Opening Statements: "I’m prepared and excited for this fight. Meanwhile, if Chocolatito wants to call me a clown, then hopefully he remembers that I’m the clown who gave him his biggest challenge. He’ll see that in our rematch."
On a Rematch with Chocolatito: "We are fighting for higher purses. We’ll give a show and demonstrate high quality action. We understand that we can put on just as good a show as the higher weight classes, if not a better one."
"I’ll fight him at whatever weight he likes. We can fight in the heavyweight division! I am going to bring the fight to him and I have the medicine in my hands and the power to get at him."
Why He Always Wears a Smile: "I love boxing and it’s my life. When someone has a passion for something, no matter what it is, then it shows. I just love taking part in the sport and being in that ring."
On a showdown with fellow Mexican, Juan Franciso Estrada: "He’s a great fighter and we’re both of Mexican descent. I still want Chocolatito first. He has the world title. One day down the line, yes we’ll have a match