Former pound-for-pound king and four-division champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-3, 41KO) will meet current WBC flyweight titleholder Julio Cesar Martinez (18-1,14KO) on March 5 at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California, live on DAZN. The bout will be a non-title fight and will take place at Chocolatito’s current weight class of super flyweight (115 lbs).
Originally, Gonzalez was supposed to challenge unified super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada in a trilogy showdown on the same date, March 5. However, Estrada pulled out of the bout in late January to allow himself time to recover from a severe COVID-19 illness. Martinez was penciled in as the replacement shortly thereafter.
Gonzalez, 34, has slowly been fighting his way back to the top since his back-to-back losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017, winning four out of his last five bouts. After picking up two stoppage wins in 2018 and 2019, the Nicaraguan legend regained a world title in February 2020, when he stopped Kal Yafai in the 9th round to win the WBA strap.
Chocolatito defended his title later that year against Israel Gonzalez, and then met Juan Francisco Estrada in a unification rematch in early 2021, this time at super flyweight. Many observers felt that Gonzalez did enough to earn the victory, but instead, it was Estrada who got the nod, winning a split decision and paving the way towards an eventual trilogy fight.
Martinez, 27, won the WBC world flyweight title in late 2019 against Cristofer Rosales via TKO in the 9th round. The Mexican titleholder would successfully defend that belt four times afterward, against Jay Harris, Moises Calleros, Joel Cordova, and McWilliams Arroyo. The first three defenses versus Harris, Calleros and Cordova were stoppage wins, while the most recent, against Arroyo, ended in a “no contest” after Arroyo was unable to continue after an accidental head clash.
While this matchup wasn’t supposed to happen, it’s a suitable consolation prize given the fan-friendly styles of the two combatants. A win for Gonzalez will most likely set up his overdue rubber match with Estrada. While a win for Martinez would open up endless possibilities at 112 and 115 pounds for the flyweight titleholder.
Fighter’s Form (last 5 fights):
Juan Francisco Estrada - LOSS by SD (117-111, 115-113, 113-115) - 13/03/2021
Israel Gonzalez - WIN by UD (118-110, 117-111, 116-112) - 23/10/2020
Kal Yafai - WIN by TKO 9 - 29/02/2020
Diomel Diocos - WIN by TKO 2 - 23/12/2019
Moises Fuentes - WIN by TKO 5 - 15/09/2018
Julio Cesar Martinez
McWilliams Arroyo - No Contest - 19/11/2021
Joel Cordova - WIN by TKO 6 - 26/06/2021
Moises Calleros - WIN by TKO 2 - 23/10/2020
Jay Harris - WIN by UD (118-109, 116-111, 115-112) - 29/02/2020
Cristofer Rosales - WIN by MD (116-112, 115-112, 114-114) - 09/12/2017
Date: March 5th, 2022
Time: 1:30 am (GMT), 5:30pm (PT), 8:30pm (ET)
Venue: Pechanga Arena, San Diego, California, USA
Elsewhere on the card
In the co-main event, Mauricio Lara (23-2-1, 16 KO) will meet Emilio Sanchez (19-1, 12 KO) in a 10-round featherweight bout. Also featured is Angel Fierro (19-1-1,15 KO) taking on former title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (34-6-2, 21 KO) in a 10-round battle for the WBO NABO lightweight belt.