By Derek Bonnett
The talk going into the September 10 clash between WBC super flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras and Pound for Pound number one fighter Roman Gonzalez centered on one possibility: would Gonzalez surpass the great Alexis Arguello as a four division champion? However, few prognosticated the super flyweight Super Fight would contend for 2016’s Fight of the Year. When the final scores were read, history was indeed made, but Nicaragua’s hero endured more pain and struggle throughout the scheduled twelve rounds than any of his other professional contests. The win was reminiscent of Ricardo Lopez’ great battles with Nicaragua’s Rosendo Alvarez.
The bout got off to a fast start as Cuadras tried to set the pace, but his tempo was matched an ever aggressive Gonzalez, who cut the ring down with serious intent and never before seen vigor. It was a relatively even frame in terms of punches connected, but it paved the way for a brilliant second round by the challenger. Gonzalez landed his patent right hand and followed it will the left hook to rattle Cuadras, forcing him to use his legs. Cuadras’ beard was only beginning to impress fight fans at this point and so it took the shots well and continued to until the final bell. By the round’s end Gonzalez started working in his uppercut further inflict damage to the champion. Cuadras started round three with a massive overhand right. The more Cuadras hit Gonzalez, the greater the Nicaraguan’s forward pressure became. The Cuadras jab began marking up the face of Gonzalez and through round four swelling became apparent underneath the left eye of the challenger. Gonzalez would give little breathing room to the champion in spite of taking on fast combination and heaving uppercuts from Cuadras. After four rounds, Gonzalez led 3-0-1 in rounds on SecondsOut’s unofficial card.
Cuadras began winning more exchanges than earlier in the bout, but Gonzalez’ almost missile guided precision found him landing big shots from all angles. Gonzalez’ body work kept Cuadras honest, but the champion had a good fifth round. More swelling along the cheek and jaw-line appeared on Gonzalez. Gonzalez also emerged from the round with a tiny cut on the corner of his right eye. The challenger appeared to take something off his shots in round six, but he kicked up his output from the previous round. Cuadras landed a nice left hook at the end of the sixth, but a pattern began to develop as Cuadras would control a minute of each round before allowing the challenger to redirect the action toward the strengths of his own game. The inside battle was being won by Gonzalez, but the durable chin and skin of the Mexican champion kept him looking fresh throughout while Gonzalez looked the worse for wear even though he maintained a lead on the cards. After eight rounds, Gonzalez led 5-2-1 in rounds on the SecondsOut card.
Cuadras looked the fresher fighter even after suffering a cut to his right eye after an accidental clash of heads. Gonzalez’ body work set up late opportunities to the chin of the champion, but he would not budge. The ninth round featured some of the best exchanges of the fight. Cuadras finally appeared to slow down in the tenth as he held more frequently, allowing Gonzalez to obtain good work on the inside. A huge left hook landed for Gonzalez, but Cuadras shook it off. The challenger kept his work-rate high into the eleventh and twelfth rounds, but could never fully assert himself over the Mexican as he had with the majority of his opponents.
The judges scored the bout in Gonzalez’ favor by margins of 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113. Afterward, Gonzalez recognized Cuadras as his most difficult opponent and rejoiced over becoming a four division champion. Gonzalez remained humble and firmly stated that he would never surpass Alexis Arguello as the best Nicaraguan fighter. Yet, he showed bulging confidence in welcoming a fight with Japan’s Naoya Inoue, who sat ringside. Gonzalez, a four division champion, raised his record to 46-0-0 (38). Cuadras dipped to 35-1-1 (27).
On the undercard, Yoshihiro Kamegai avenged his draw with Jesus Soto-Karass by forcing the durable veteran into eighth round corner retirement. Kamegai dominated the rounds, but each stanza was filled with excellent back and forth action. Kamegai dropped Soto-Karass in round eight with a shot to the body. Kamegai lifted his ledger to 27-3-2 (24). Soto-Karass fell to 28-11-4 (18) and is likely headed into retirement.