On the morning of March 18, 2017, Roman Gonzalez was 46-0 and sat atop most pound-for-pound lists. Before he went to bed that night, he was bloodied, no longer unbeaten and toppled from his pound-for-pound perch following a disputed majority decision loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who regained the title he had lost by technical decision to Carlos Cuadras in May 2014. The thrilling two-way action and controversial decision begat this rematch at the StubHub Center in Carson, which, given the venue's history, couldn't be staged in a better place.
Will the rematch live up to the original? Given that even after the fight Gonzalez topped four of the 10 CompuBox Categorical Leaders list (punches thrown per round with 89, total punches landed per round with 34.3, average power punches thrown per round with 67.6 -- 13.1 more than his closest rival -- and average power connects per round at 29.4 and 7.8 more than second place), version #2 should approach, if not exceed, expectations.
Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez I remains one of the best action fights of the year. The two boxers swapped 1,953 total punches thrown, of which 1,423 (or 72.9% - CompuBox avg.: 58.5% ) were power shots. Gonzalez's 372 power connects set a new all-time CompuBox record at 115. Other stats were heavily in favor of "Chocolatito": Connect leads of 441-284 overall, 69-7 jabs and 372-277 power, percentage gaps of 44%-30% overall, 20%-4% jabs and 56%-36% power, and round-by-round leads of 9-3 overall, 11-0-1 jabs and 8-4 power.
However, Sor Rungvisai scored a first-round knockdown and because he opened two severe cuts on Gonzalez's face, the Nicaraguan had the look of a hurting fighter struggling to survive. That, combined with Sor Rungvisai fighting much better than expected, might have given the Thai enough of the close rounds to score the upset. Rungvisai is all about the power punch. 21.9 of his 23 landed punches (95.2%)a re power shots- CompuBox avg.: 72% & 55.8 of his 67.7 thrown punches (82.4%) are power shots. CompuBox avg.: 41.5%. Rungvisai opponents landed 39.4% of their power shots.
The first Sor Rungvisai fight continued a downward trend in which Gonzalez couldn't dominate opponents the way he had at 105, 108 and early in his 112-pound reign. His three pre-Sor Rungvisai fights against Brian Viloria, McWilliams Arroyo and Carlos Cuadras were punishing affairs in terms of physical damage, though statistically he still was well ahead. In those fights, he averaged a combined 22 more punches per round (88.5 vs. 66.5), landed 11.5 more total punches per round (30.8 vs. 19.3), 12 more power shots each round (27.9 vs. 15.8) and was more accurate overall (35%-29%) and in power punches (44%-34%).
But in the four preceding fights against Akira Yaegashi (from whom he won the WBC flyweight title), Rocky Fuentes, Valentin Leon and Edgar Sosa (his HBO debut), Gonzalez was far more successful and appeared to be a more well-rounded fighter. Yes, the activity gap was smaller (78.9 per round to 69.7) but the punishment gulfs were larger as he more than doubled his foes' total connects (32.2 vs. 13.4) and landed power shots (26.7 vs. 11.9), while also prevailing by much larger percentage margins (41%-19% overall, 27%-6% jabs, 46%-29% power).
The biggest differences between today's version of Gonzalez and the one of before are his diminishing use of angles and footwork as well as his eroding jab success (24.5 thrown/2.9 connects, 11.8% accuracy vs. Cuadras, Arroyo and Viloria; 20.6 thrown/5.5 connects per round, 26.7% accuracy vs. Yaegashi, Fuentes, Leon and Sosa). To regain the title, he'll need to turn back the clock and restore the diversity of his offensive attack.
With 12 rounds of experience and nearly six months to rest and recuperate, Gonzalez will find his way back to the top. Many thought he should have won the first fight despite the blood and punishment he suffered, but now that he has a clean face and many more skills still at his disposal, Gonzalez will recapture enough of his previous self to capture a hard-earned decision.