Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez vs Carlos Cuadras & Yoshihiro Kamegai vs Jesus Soto-Karass
BY KID HERSH
From the Forum in Inglewood California came HBO World Championship Boxing. First up was a rematch between Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-2, 23KO's) and Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-4, 18KO's). The first round started off hot, as we expected, with both guys digging to the body. Kamegai hurt Soto Karass to the body with a left hook to the liver that head him clinging to Kamegai like a sloth to a tree. Soto Karass recouped well between rounds and came out with a fast and steady work pace in the second round that he maintained throughout it. In the coming rounds Kamegai was landing the cleaner, more effective blows due in part to his heavy hands. Karass still did not look recouped from the body damage in the first round to my eyes, as he is slightly hunched over and really protecting the mid section still. The fighters traded back and forth in excellent fashion until they nearly could not raise their arms anymore. Kamegai hurt Karass to the body yet again in the seventh round but the long time veteran, that is rugged as they come, came back by the end of the round and was throwing punches and backing up Kamegai! Karass then got blasted in the eighth round though and was knocked down from an uppercut midway through the round. He then took further pounding but miraculously made it through the round. Tough, tough warrior but I expect nothing less from someone of his calibre. His corner stopped the fight before the ninth round. Likely the last fight of his career here and not a bad way to go out; not on the canvas and his corner saving him from himself.
Next up was the main event, where Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez (43-0, 37KO's) was looking to make history by grabbing a fourth title in his fourth weight class - something that even his mentor, the legendary Alexis Arguello, was not able to do. He was fighting Carlos Quadras (34-0-1, 26KO's) who has held the 115lb WBC belt for quite some time now and is considered by many to be the man of the division, although some will tell you that Naoya Inoue, who is sitting ringside, is that man. Immediately I knew that this was going to be a very special fight due to Quadras clearly looking the part of the "A-Side", as he had the look of a very very determined and confident man during his ring entrance. Heck, he even had the look like he was insulted that he was the big underdog coming into this fight due to being the champion at 115lbs, and undefeated for that matter. Even Max Kellerman pointed out during his ring entrance that he thought he was "the man" in this fight and that he asked for Chocolatito to prove he is the best in the world. His look of superiority lasted all the way to introductions, making Chocolatito wait as he did a prayer in the corner when the referee was getting them together - waiting alongside Chocolatito. You could see Harold Lederman outside the ring in the corner where Quadras was praying with a strange look on his face, as if saying "really?" In the first round Chocolatito was pressing straight from the opening bell. Cuadras showed his quality, not looking flustered one bit and even caught Chocolatito with some punches from odd angles that would be nearly impossible to predict. Chocolatito really got the engine warmed up in the second round as he was nearly running at Cuadras. Cuadras was showing great footwork - he was not "running" away from his man, he was just trying to create distance but due to Chocolatito's frenetic pace he had to back peddle nonstop to create any sort of distance to punch from. In the third round we mostly heard a debate about how great Chocolatito was from broadcasters Roy Jones Jr and Max Kellerman. They were saying how Chocolatito must be the greatest Nicaraguan fighter to ever live, because Arguello took time off to train him and teach him everything he knew - so he has had to have added to all of that knowledge. The fourth round saw more super aggression from Chocolatito as he not only stalked Cuadras but he was showing his amazing aggressive footwork, cutting of the ring in mere strides. Cuadras, on the other hand, is most definitely still in this fight as he is blasting combinations home that are landing to Chocolatito's head. Some of the punches are doing damage too, as evidenced by Chocolatito's face being marked up by the end of the fourth round - notably under his left eye. Cuadras had himself a great fifth round, even cocking off midway through it when he was dropping his arms and slinging punches from his hips as well as kicking his legs up, showing that Chocolatito is not hurting him and that he is not going to go anywhere tonight. The sixth round was closely fought, with Cuadras having success in spurts with his lightning fast combinations as well as marking up Chocolatito's face further as he suffered a cut on the right side of his face now. The grind continued through the seventh and eighth rounds, with Cuadras further showing that he is not going to go anywhere tonight. This grind can be shown on the face of Chocolatito now especially before the start of the ninth round. His face is swelling up and bleeding and he has a look that he is now discouraged. Max Kellerman said that he looked "disheartened". Indeed, Cuadras is in this fight for the long haul and he is going to that special place that not many fighters go to, he is hitting seemingly his second wind but I am seeing it as more of a place that is putting his life directly on the line, which is why Gonzalez is looking dejected because he knows the territory he is about to go into here. Of course this happens every time fighters get in the ring but this is the area where these guys are directly sacrificing their longer term health. These are the types of fights that take the prime out of a fighter. And off we go into the ninth, with Chocolatito's face getting disfigured and Cuadras bleeding heavily from over the right eye as Chocolatito opened it up further. In the tenth round Cuadras really made a great comeback, showing his amazing conditioning and that special place I talked about earlier that some fighters choose to go to in these rare instances where they are outgunned but will not back down. He threw flurries throughout the round, doing a bit of shoe shining at times, as Gonzalez still came forward but his energy level was definitely low. Rightly so in this amazingly grueling fight and the piece of Iron in front of him known as Carlos Quadras but he does still look just slightly disheartened to my eyes still. As if he knows he is hurting himself long term but has to go through the motions because Cuadras will not ever call it quits. And, it should be noted, Cuadras is still a very dangerous fighter in there and landing some heavy shots that are still disfiguring Chocolatito's face. Cuadras had himself a great eleventh round as he was the fresher man of the two. His face swelling up could be really hurting and hampering his abilities here, to be sure, with his eyes only slits now at this point. Cuadras, on the other hand, has a great cut man that is keeping the massive gash clean and clear from flowing blood into his right eye. His conditioning is absolutely astounding; after taking the loads of punishment that he has in this fight he now looks super fresh in the championship rounds, bouncing on his toes and delivering lightning fast punches - even combinations. He hurt Chocolatito to the body in the eleventh round but Chocolatito recovered in the twelfth round and came right back at his man. It ended as the fight of the year, which I already had it pinned as, with both men swinging for the fences going for a knockout. Man, what a fight, this was really something special to witness and the best fight I have seen in years. Wish I would have been there! The cards came in a unanimous decision for Chocolatito to make history for him. They ranged from 115-113 to 117-111. He would say in the post fight that it was the most difficult fight of his career and very difficult. He also had a beautiful speech once Kellerman brought up that he passed his mentor and trainer Alexis Arguello. He said that he is Arguellos son and will never surpass him because he is his teacher. Beautiful speech and beautiful fight - easily fight of the year in my book.