The return of former pound-for-pound king and four-division world titleholder Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is in the works for September on HBO, the network and K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler told ESPN on Wednesday.
Gonzalez, the only fighter from Nicaragua to win world titles in four weight classes, lost his junior bantamweight belt — and his status as the widely recognized pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the world — to Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on March 18 on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York.
It was a helacious, bloody slugfest and a contender for the fight of the year, but Gonzalez, who suffered two bad cuts because of accidental head butts, lost a majority decision by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 113-113, despite virtually everyone at ringside seeing him as the clear winner of the dramatic and action-packed fight.
Gonzalez’s return, which is being targeted to be held in Southern California, could take place either Sept. 9 or 23, the weeks before or after the Canelo Alvarez-Golovkin HBO PPV mega fight, Loeffler said.
Due to the controversial nature of the fight with Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw, the WBC ordered an immediate rematch soon after the March bout. The rematch is the fight the Gonzalez camp and HBO want.
Loeffler said the sides are negotiating but if a deal is not worked out HBO still wants to put Gonzalez on in September even if it’s against another opponent.
“The WBC ordered the rematch, and that’s the fight we’re looking at doing. HBO wants to air that fight. The rematch is the plan but we haven’t finalized an agreement yet, but that’s the plan as of now,” Loeffler said. “We saw the first fight was and it was a tremendous fight.
“Srisaket rose to the occasion and performed under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and took advantage of the opportunity, but most people thought Roman won that fight and that’s why the WBC ordered a rematch. So it will be a fight to see if Roman is still a top pound-for-pound fighter or if Srisaket is really the top fighter in that division.”
According to HBO and Loeffler, Gonzalez could be joined on the card by Japan’s Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs), the brilliant 24-year-old who has already won titles in as many weight classes. He retained his version of the junior bantamweight title for the fifth time on Saturday in Tokyo by blasting through mandatory challenger Ricardo Rodriguez in a one-sided, third-round knockout.
Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs), 29, has fought many times in Japan. A fight between Gonzalez and Inoue, who many regard as one of the top 10 fighters in the world, has been heavily speculated about. Putting them on the same card would be the first step toward an eventual showdown next year.