Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez plans return to ring in 2018

Boxing


When 2017 began, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was an undefeated junior bantamweight world champion and largely considered the pound-for-pound king of boxing.

As 2018 begins, Gonzalez is trying to salvage his career.

Gonzalez lost his 115-pound world title, perfect record and pound-for-pound No. 1 status by highly controversial majority decision to Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on March 18 on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Then came a clear-cut and brutal fourth-round knockout — the 2017 ESPN.com KO of the year — in a rematch with Sor Rungvisai on Sept. 9 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, a loss so one-sided and violent that many questioned whether Gonzalez should continue boxing.

Gonzalez took some time off to think about what he wanted and decided that he would fight on. However, Gonzalez has made changes to his camp as he aims to return this spring.

“Roman is definitely planning to fight in April or May,” Carlos Blandon, Gonzalez’s manager, told ESPN on Tuesday. Blandon said that Gonzalez plans to remain at junior bantamweight, resisting suggestions from some that he return to the flyweight division.

Blandon said Gonzalez’s ring return could take place on the undercard of the probable rematch between unified middleweight world champion Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez on May 5 on HBO PPV. Gonzalez, who has appeared on previous GGG undercards, is co-promoted by Tom Loeffler, who also promotes Golovkin.

Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs), 30, recently held a news conference in Managua, Nicaragua, where he is a national hero for becoming the first from his country to win world titles in four weight divisions (strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight). At the news conference Gonzalez announced his training team of new head trainer Gustavo Herrera, who has been part of Gonzalez’s team for years, and strength and conditioning coach Alfredo Corrales.

Blandon said Gonzalez also plans to travel next month to Japan to meet with co-promoter Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions to discuss plans for his next fight.

“Roman wants to keep fighting [at junior bantamweight] until he dominates the division and then maybe we will think of an additional title in the following weight division [bantamweight],” Blandon said. “God will tell. Roman and his new team are ready to kick off the new year.”



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