GLENDALE, Arizona – Juan Francisco Estrada has a solution to eliminate any more scoring controversy in his long-running in-ring rivalry with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.
The pair of little big men have produced 24 fierce rounds of action but no knockouts or even knockdowns. That is one thing the two-division and defending lineal junior bantamweight champion from Hermosillo, Mexico hopes to change in the third act this weekend at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona (Saturday, DAZN, 8:00 p.m. ET).
“The first two fights both went the distance and to the judges. There was at least one scorecard in each of those fights that were scrutinized,” Estrada told BoxingScene.com. “So, I hope we can take it out of the judges’ hands this time. Our two fights had everything except for a knockout.
“This time, I want a decisive win and plan to go for the knockout if the opportunity presents itself.”
It would be a tall order either way.
Estrada (43-3, 28KOs) has not scored a knockout since his October 2020 rematch with countryman Carlos Cuadras. Their thrilling WBC junior bantamweight title fight saw Estrada hit the deck in round three, before rallying to twice drop Cuadras in the deciding eleventh round on the road in Mexico City.
The win set up a long-anticipated rematch with Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs), having dropped a hard-fought unanimous decision in their November 2012 WBA junior flyweight title fight. Their non-stop affair was far more competitive than suggested by the final scores (116-112, 116-112 and a way-off 118-110).
The sequel last March 13 in Dallas was every bit as fierce and also included at least one wacky scorecard. Judge Jesse Reyes (115-113) ruled in favor of Gonzalez, with Estrada awarded the fight by judges David Sutherland (115-113) and Carlos Sucre (117-111) to defend his lineal/WBC title and win the WBA strap. The 117-111 card turned in by Sucre was enough to draw industry-wide scorn as well as a six-month ban from officiating any WBA bouts.
In his most recent bout, Estrada dropped countryman Argi Cortes in round seven but was forced to go the distance and sweat out a close but unanimous decision on September 3 in his Hermosillo hometown.
The fight was meant to shake off rust after having to withdraw from his planned trilogy bout with Gonzalez on March 5 after testing positive for Covid. Gonzalez wound up facing and defeating Julio Cesar Martinez via unanimous decision, his third straight bout to go the distance after a February 2020 ninth-round knockout of Kal Yafai to win the WBA junior bantamweight title.
The one staple of nearly every Gonzalez fight is a high-volume attack. The rematch with Estrada saw both boxers combine to throw 2,529 punches, a Compubox record for the junior bantamweight division. Estrada landed 314 of a career-high 1,212 punches thrown, yet still slightly outworked by Gonzalez (391-of-1317).
“The only way that you can really prepare for someone like this is to be at your physical best and prepare to go hard for all twelve rounds,” acknowledged Estrada. “Roman is constantly active in the ring, he always throws a lot of punches. The only way to prepare for it is to increase your level of training and come prepared for a long but fast paced bout by being better physically. That will be the key to winning again this time, and hopefully with a decisive knockout.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox