By Derek Bonnett from The Garden
Fighting for the first time since his epic battle with Carlos Cuadras and the loss of his trainer Arnulfo Obando, Roman Gonzalez took on big hitting former world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai at Madison Square Garden. The twelve round super flyweight bout energized the crowd at MSG as soon as the pre-fight introductions. Gonzalez was making the first defense of his title since defeating Carlos Cuadras in September 2016. The fans at MSG were treated to an early candidate for Fight of the Year in 2017.
The heavy-handed Thai boxer got off to a great start in round one out-punching the champion with volume shots and learning Gonzalez to mix it up on the inside. Srisaket dropped Gonzalez late in the round with a short hook to the ribcage to jump to an early lead. Srisaket continued to bully the champion around the ring with a heavy-handed attack. Gonzalez began finding success with the right hand, but it was not with the same volume as the Thai puncher. Srisaket picked up where he left off in round three. Gonzalez suffered a cut over his right eye following a clash of heads. Gonzalez rallied following the cut to land his best shots of the fight up to this point. He landed with the left hook and established his jab to win the round. Gonzalez and Sriasket went toe to toe for much of round four, which was one of the year’s best. The Thai tried to use his strength to overwhelm the Nicaraguan champion, but his punches caught more gloves than previously. Gonzalez landed more shots cleanly and might have made the difference in a tight round. Another great round with Srisaket starting well and bullying Gonzalez under cove in the fifth. The champion outfought the Thai over the last two minutes, landing many clean shots to the head with his right. To his credit, Srisaket barely budged even after eating a monster uppercut. Unofficially, SecondsOut had the bout even at 48-48 after five rounds.
Srisaket lost a point for another head clash in round six. Gonzalez had his challenger undercover for much of the round, but the iron-willed Thai still refused to wilt. Srisaket started the seventh slower, but Gonzalez allowed the pace to remain calmer. The champion still landed with laser-like previous with big shots, but late round surge from the challenger cost him the round. Gonzalez showed grit to take the eighth over Srisaket. The challenger pressure as before and the champion continued to land the cleaner shots in bunches. Both fighters look to have lost some steam on their punches, but neither has surrendered an inch. Full steam ahead. Whatever was lost in round seven, both men mustered back up for the ninth. Gonzalez bled freely for all three minutes. Srisaket pressure well and found his past groove. The champion landed well in the final seconds of the ninth, but the round looked to favor the challenger. More toe to toe action followed in the tenth. Gonzalez bleeding badly, but still firing away with clean shots. Srisaket raging back to resume control. Landed harder shots with greater volume. 95-95 was how SecondsOut saw it after ten rounds.
Tired from a tough fight and blood loss, the champion fought Srisaket’s game in round eleven. The Thai boxer was more active and landed cleaner punches. Gonzalez followed the challenger around the ring and was outboxed. Srisaket fought the twelfth as if he has the fight won. The challenger ran and held when he should have been letting his hands go. Instead, Gonzalez outfought him over the last three minutes and retained his title with a 114-114 Draw on the unofficial SecondsOut card.
The official scores favored Srisaket Sor Rungvisai 114-112 twice and 113-113 crowning a new champion.Srisaket lifted his ledger to 42-4-1 (38). Gonzalez fell to 46-1-0 (38).