By Matt Lieberman: Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and Julio Cesar ‘El Rey’ Martinez have ten days left before meeting in the main event on DAZN on March 5th at the Pechanga Arena, in San Diego, California.
The 27-year-old Martinez (18-1, 14 KOs) agreed to replace WBC Franchise/WBA super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada as the opponent for the former four-division world champion Chocolatito (50-3, 41 KOs).
Estrada was having difficulty coming back from a recent illness, so he backed out of the card. Fortunately for boxing fans, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn was able to get Rey Martinez to step in to face the 34-year-old Chocolatito.
This is by far the most prominent name that Martinez will have faced during his seven-year professional career.
Martinez might have enough youth to pull off the upset because he’s catching Chocolatito at the perfect time in his 17-year-old professional career.
Chocolatito lost his last fight to Juan Estrada by a 12 round split decision in Dallas last year in March 2021. The decision wasn’t popular with boxing fans, who felt that Roman had done enough to deserve the win.
Chocolatito vs. Martinez = all-action fight
“The disappointment over the scrapping of the Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada part 3 only lasted a couple of days. Eddie Hearn was able to salvage the show by getting Julio Cesar Martinez, the WBC 112-lb champion, to move up in weight and face Chocolatito at 115-lbs,” said Chris Mannix on JABS on DAZN Boxing Show.
Faltan 10 Days 👊
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 23, 2022
“This fight is sure to be an all-action fight in a weight class that Chocolatito is familiar with. Martinez, however, is not. I’ll ask you this. Is Martinez making a mistake of stepping up to fight Chocolatito?”
“No, he is not because this is the right time for Martinez. He has some momentum going his way,” said Sergio Mora on Julio Cesar Martinez, moving up from 112 to 115.
“He’s the younger fighter at 26-years-old; he’s a relentless punching machine from different angles. He’s going to be difficult for anyone to fight.
“He’s been making a splash at flyweight, and we know that Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez is the flyweight king, one of the greatest fighters of our era. He’s a four-division world champion, and every fighter wants a legend on their resume.
“I was privileged to fight a legend in Shane Mosley, and I’ll never forget it. I fought Vernon Forrest, an all-time great. Every fighter wants that. So at this point in Martinez’s career, he knows he’s firing on all cylinders. Absolutely, you take this fight against an aging great like Chocolatito Gonzalez,” said Mora.
“I agree with you. I don’t think there’s any downside for Martinez,” said Mannix. “If he moves up and loses, he can always drop back down. A unification fight against [IBF flyweight champion] Sunny Edwards is going to be there.”
Martinez looked great in his three-round no contest against McWilliams Arroyo last November. The fight had to be stopped because Arroyo suffered an injury from a clash of heads.
Martinez was getting the better of Arroyo at the time, and some boxing fans believe that McWilliams bailed out of the fight to keep from getting knocked out.
Before that fight, Martinez’s best wins came against these fighters:
- Christofer Rosales
- Jay Harris
- Jay Selby
In 2019, Martinez fought Charlie Edwards to a three-round no contest. Martinez would have won the fight if he didn’t hit Edwards when he was down after dropping him.
A win-win situation for El Rey Martinez
“Another fight against McWilliams Arroyo is going to be there,” said Mannix. “So moving up is kind of a no-risk proposition. It’s all upside here for Julio Cesar Martinez.
“If I’m Martinez, I’m not really looking at it that way either because Chocolatito looked great against Estrada in the aftermath of the Chocolatito-Estrada fought part 2 last year.
“Maybe that was the fight that Chocolatito kind of left it all on the table. He poured it all out of him to get one last great performance, which he submitted against Estrada.
“Chocolatito has done a great job of rebuilding himself in the aftermath of the back-to-back losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. He beats Kal Yafai, and then he has a tremendous fight against Juan Francisco Estrada.
“That may have been the end, and if that was the end for Chocolatito, a big puncher like Martinez has a great shot to win.
“So if I’m Martinez, not only am I going into this fight happy that I’m going to fight a legend, I got to believe I’ve got a decent chance of beating a legend,” said Mannix.
It can be a win-win fight for Martinez if he doesn’t get beaten badly and performs well. With a fighter like Chocolatito, it’s hard to know how well Martinz will do against him.
Chocolatito has a lot of miles on the tank
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if Martinez is the favorite, but it’s going to be pretty even,” said Mora on his belief the oddsmakers are going to see Chocolatitor vs. Martinez as a near 50-50 fight.
“The oddsmakers aren’t dumb, and they’re going to know that Chocolatito has a lot of miles in the tank. He’s a legend with a lot of wars under his belt, and fighters turn old overnight.
“I did mention that in his last two fights actually, going back to Kal Yafai in that upset, Chocolatito and legends and great fighters like that, have the ability to muster up something that a normal champion can’t.
“That’s why normal champions can’t understand them, let alone writers like you. So I think it’s the perfect opportunity for Martinez ‘El Rey’ to be at the top of the flyweight division and beat a king like Chocolatito Gonzalez,” said Mora.
Didn’t I ask you to stop mentioning your Mosley fight? I don’t want to have to relive that. That was painful,” said Mannix.
“He was an all-time great, and I competed with an all-time great. That was a draw, 12 rounds, baby,” said Mora.
“Yeah, all-time awful is what it was,” said Mannix.