Chocolatito moving to bantamweight, planning year-end title shot in Japan

Chocolatito moving to bantamweight, planning year-end title shot in Japan

After spending all of 2023 on the sidelines, former pound-for-pound star Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez has some grand ambitions for 2024. Levi Luna, the most reliable source in Nicaraguan boxing, reports that the 36-year-old will soon have a comeback fight in his native Managua before challenging for a bantamweight belt on a year-end Japanese show.

Gonzalez (51-4, 41 KO), who hasn’t fought since narrowly falling to Juan Francisco Estrada in their terrific rubber match two Decembers ago, is no stranger to moving up in weight in pursuit of greater glory. He’d previously claimed titles at 105, 108, and 112 before a 2016 super flyweight debut saw him hand Carlos Cuadras his first defeat.

The Land of the Rising Sun isn’t uncharted territory, either. He’s fought there nine times before, including a 2013-2014 run that saw Japanhost four of his five bouts.

The location implies one of two opponents. The first is WBA champion Takuma Inoue, who put down Jerwin Ancajas with a body shot last weekend in his inaugural defense. Though Gonzalez will be even more undersized than usual, that’s a very winnable matchup for him, as Inoue’s general lack of power and ostensible vulnerability to pressure make for tempting targets.

The other is newly crowned WBO champion Junto Nakatani, and as a fan of Gonzalez’s continuing health, I strongly advise against it.

We’ll keep you posted as this develops.

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