Over the past decade, we have seen Roman Gonzalez rise from strawweight to become one of the best fighters of his generation. However, he couldn’t have done that without an expert supporting cast.
Gonzalez has moved through the weights and dared to be great. Along the way, he has raised his game and that of his contemporaries.
While Sugar Ray Leonard had Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler (the “Four Kings”), Gonzalez has had Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who have also squared off with each other in memorable round-robin contests.
During this time, nobody has gone unscathed. All suffered loses. But we cherish the performances and memories they have given us during their 10 fights — soon to be 11.
On Saturday, Gonzalez and Estrada resume hostilities in what will be their third encounter at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on DAZN at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT.
Here’s a look through the 10 fights that have taken place so far:
Roman Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada
November 17, 2012, Sports Arena, Los Angeles. Title: WBA junior flyweight
It all began 10 years ago when an unknown Estrada put up a better-than-expected effort against Gonzalez. Although Gonzalez clearly won, Estrada had his moments during their heated 12-round contest and showed more than enough to suggest he would shine again. Which he was able to do just five months later, when he edged past Brian Viloria to claim the WBA and WBO flyweight titles.
Result: Gonzalez UD 12
Carlos Cuadras vs. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
May 31, 2014, Sala de Armas Agustín Melgar, Mexico City, Mexico. Title: WBC junior bantamweight
Cuadras (rated as the No. 2 junior bantamweight) boxed well early on to get in front before Sor Rungvisai (No. 3) mounted his assault. Cuadras was cut over the left eye from a clash of heads in the eighth round. The ringside physician decided the challenger was unable to continue, and the fight went to the scorecards. Cuadras was ahead at the time of the stoppage and was awarded the technical decision and became the WBC titleholder. The stoppage came just as it looked like Sor Rungvisai was finding his way into the fight and about to make things very interesting. Watch the video on YouTube (Spanish commentary).
Result: Cuadras TD 8
Carlos Cuadras vs. Roman Gonzalez
September 10, 2016, Forum, Inglewood, California. Title: WBC junior bantamweight
Gonzalez had already conquered the 105-, 108- and 112-pound divisions, and on this night he dared to be great by stepping up in weight to face then-unbeaten Cuadras (35-0-1). Although the naturally bigger defending champion presented plenty of problems, cutting the Nicaraguan standout twice, Gonzalez was able to hold off the Mexican game and win the close-run battle to become a four-weight champion by unanimous decision.
Result: Gonzalez UD 12
Roman Gonzalez vs. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
March 18, 2017, Madison Square Garden, New York. Title: WBC junior bantamweight
Thai fighters are known to be nearly invulnerable at home but habitually struggle on the road. However, Sor Rungvisai had shown against Cuadras nearly three years earlier that he had the ability and mental fortitude to break free of those chains. Sor Rungvisai made an early statement of intent and showed that his high knockout ratio wasn’t just built on soft opposition when he dropped the then-pound-for-pound king in the opening round. Thereafter, both men went punch-for-punch throughout an absorbing battle. At the conclusion it looked close, with stats favoring Gonzalez, but Sor Rungvisai was awarded the upset by majority decision.
Result: Sor Rungvisai MD 12
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Roman Gonzalez 2
September 9, 2017, StubHub Center, Carson, California. Title: WBC junior bantamweight
Six months after their highly competitive first fight, Sor Rungvisai crushed all doubts with the most conclusive win in the entire series between these four men, leaving Gonzalez flat on his back looking up at the lights after connecting with a giant right hook. It was a stunning win that sent shockwaves throughout the division.
Result: Sor Rungvisai KO 4
Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Carlos Cuadras
September 9, 2017, StubHub Center, Carson, California. Non-title bout
These two met on the undercard of Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez 2, with the winner hoping to secure a shot at the main event winner. Both men threw down in a very close fight. The deciding factor came in the 10th round when Estrada dropped Cuadras, which allowed “El Gallo” to edge matters by a solitary point (114-113) on all three scorecards.
Result: Estrada UD 12
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada
February 24, 2018, Forum, Inglewood, California. Titles: vacant Ring and WBC junior bantamweight
In an intriguing style matchup, the aggressive, power-punching Thai fighter met the more refined and skillful counterpuncher. It was particularly close, but in the end the judges preferred the more aggressive Sor Rungvisai’s work and he won by the narrowest of margins.
Result: Sor Rungvisai MD 12
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada 2
April 26, 2019, Forum, Inglewood, California. Titles: Ring/WBC junior bantamweight
Estrada made adjustments from their first meeting and smartly executed his game plan, winning five of the first six rounds to put him in a commanding position. While Sor Rungvisai peculiarly elected to box out of an unnatural orthodox stance for nine rounds, he switched back to his normal southpaw stance and closed strongly. The slow start was costly, and the late rally proved futile. Estrada gained revenge and claimed the titles.
Result: Estrada UD 12
Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Carlos Cuadras 2
October 23, 2020, Gimnasio TV Azteca, Mexico City. Titles: Ring/WBC junior bantamweight
When two Mexicans meet in a grudge match, you know what to expect, and we got it in spades. Cuadras was faster out of the gate, scoring a third-round knockdown. However, Estrada showed his championship put and bit down on his gumshield. Slowly but surely, he began to turn things around and was finally able to drop his countryman twice in the 11th round to force the stoppage in a thrilling encounter.
Result: Estrada TKO 11
Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman Gonzalez 2
March 13, 2021, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas. Titles: Ring/WBA/WBC junior bantamweight
Nearly nine years after their first fight, these two met in a 115-pound unification that lived up to its lofty billing and then some. It was a modern-day classic, with the pair throwing a combined 2,529 punches, Estrada landing 314 of 1,212 (26 percent) while Gonzalez landed 391 of 1,317 punches thrown (30 percent). There wasn’t a single clinch in the entire encounter. At the end of 12 rounds, both men had a scorecard of 115-113 in their favor. However, the third judge scored it for Estrada — an off-base 117-111 — to help the Mexican level the series.
Result: Estrada SD 12
Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman Gonzalez 3
December 3, 2022, Gila Arena, Glendale, Arizona. Titles: Ring and vacant WBC junior bantamweight
Round-robin records: Estrada 4-2, Gonzalez 2-3, Sor Rungvisai 3-2 and Cuadras 1-3
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