Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez hope the third time’s the charm to close out their epic series.
The decade-long rivals are finally set for their long-awaited rubber match, which is back on the calendar for December 3 at a location to be determined. The date was revealed Saturday evening, immediately after Estrada preserved the superfight following a hard-fought twelve-round, unanimous decision win over countryman Argi Cortes in his hometown of Hermosillo, Mexico.
“Part 3,” Matchroom Boxing announced. “El Gallo Estrada and Chocolatito Gonzalez settle the score once and for all in December. Full details dropping soon.”
The bout will come 21 months after their epic Fight of the Year-level rematch last March 13 in Dallas, which saw Estrada (43-3, 28KOs) defend his lineal/WBC junior bantamweight championship while taking Gonzalez’s WBA belt in a disputed split decision victory.
Judge Jesse Reyes (115-113) was the only judge in line with the majority of viewers, while judges David Sutherland (115-113) and Carlos Sucre (117-111) ruled in favor of Estrada. Sucre was admonished for his embarrassingly wide scorecard, resulting in a brief suspension issued by the WBA.
Still, the action produced was unforgettable and somehow surpassed their memorable November 2012 clash, won by Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs) via unanimous decision. The feat marked the final defense of his junior flyweight title, with both moving up in weight after the fight. Both boxers have since won titles at flyweight and junior bantamweight, with Gonzalez—a four division titlist—enjoying two separate reigns at 115 pounds prior to his heartbreaking defeat to Estrada earlier this year.
Estrada has since parted ways with his two physical titles.
At the time of the rematch, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43KOs) loomed overhead as the mandatory challenger to the WBC title. The two-time WBC titlist and former lineal junior bantamweight king has already faced Estrada and Gonzalez twice each, splitting his pair of bouts with Estrada while handing Gonzalez the first two defeats on his record in 2017.
Plans for the rubber match were able to advance once Estrada was named WBC “Franchise” champion this past March, shortly after his win over Gonzalez. The move was made to preserve plans for a third fight last October 16, only for Gonzalez to test positive for Covid. Efforts to reschedule for March 5 in San Diego saw Estrada withdraw and shut down training camp in mid-January after testing positive for the infectious disease.
Gonzalez went on to face WBC flyweight champ Julio Cesar Martinez (18-2, 14KOs), who moved up in weight only to be soundly outclassed in their DAZN headliner in front of a passionate crowd at Pechanga Arena in San Diego.
Estrada was stripped of the WBA ‘Super’ title for failure to proceed with an ordered title consolidation clash with Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs), who has advanced from secondary titleholder to lone recognized WBA 115-pound titlist though without a fight to show for it.
While both alphabet titles are gone, Estrada is still the recognized lineal champion and along with WBC “Franchise” designation. Both were successfully defended in Saturday’s win over Mexico City’s Cortes (22-3-3, 7KOs), who far exceeded expectations in providing a scare. Estrada scored a seventh-round knockdown en route to a narrow points win to register the fourth defense of his championship in the talent-rich 115-pound division.
Details on the location for the third fight are expected in the coming weeks.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox