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Estrada Wins Split Decision Over Gonzalez in Thrilling Rematch

By Caryn A. Tate on March 13, 2021

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Gonzalez and Estrada are two of the best fighters in the world. (Photo: Matchroom Boxing)

On Saturday, from Dallas, Texas with a limited number of fans in attendance, super flyweight world champions Juan Francisco "El Gallo" Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs) and Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez (50-3, 41 KOs) faced off in a  unification rematch eight years after their initial encounter which was fought at light flyweight. Tonight, Estrada brought the WBC world super flyweight title; Gonzalez wielded the WBA belt.


Gonzalez and Estrada are two of the best fighters in the world, and they showed it once again tonight. Estrada utilizes angles tremendously and is just a very well-rounded boxer. Chocolatito is a phenomenal boxer as well, implementing volume, pressure, and—now, in his older age—incredible accuracy. 


As expected, the first half of the fight was a see-saw. Both fighters threw a lot of punches, with Chocolatito landing the more accurate punches at times—particularly the right hand upstairs; and Estrada often landed the better body shots. Body punches seemed to be the only shots that could cause Gonzalez to pause or back off. He walked through most shots upstairs.


After a close round 5, Gonzalez's corner could be heard telling him, via translation, "You gotta be an asshole from now on." 


As the rounds wore on, it continued the same way, with lots of back-and-forth. For a couple of the later rounds, it appeared Estrada was seeing more of what Gonzalez was throwing or about to throw; he parried more of Chocolatito's shots and seemed to be waiting for his moment to land the "knockout" combination. And for a while, it seemed like that might be coming, as Gonzalez slowed down and gave ground to Estrada (a rare occurrence for Gonzalez).


But then Chocolatito's volume picked back up, and he caught back up with Estrada. In the championship rounds it became clear that these two fighters are just so evenly matched that they both seemed stumped. Both Gonzalez and Estrada seemed to have an air of "I don't know what else I can do here—let me just keep doing what I've been doing." And what they were doing was plenty, but it really shows how much respect they have for one another and how even they really are when matched up. It's a lot like any historically great, elite level fight between evenly matched fighters—think Barrera-Morales, or Pacquiao-Marquez. If Gonzalez and Estrada fought 10 times, they would probably split the fights 5 to 5. No clear winner in any of the fights. And that's a testament to both of these men, all-time greats of the sport.


It was a grueling fight for both fighters, but a beautiful and action-packed one. 


Personally, I scored the fight 115-113 for Estrada. It was the rare fight which was truly close—many of the rounds were close, not just competitive, and could have gone either way. 


It was a split decision: the official scorecards read 115-113 Gonzalez, 117-111 Estrada, and 115-113 Estrada. While some condemned the 117-111 scorecard, I didn't hate it. There are so many other fights where we get truly ridiculous scorecards, and I wish people would focus their attention on those cards. Not to mention, it takes unnecessary attention away from the greatness of tonight's main event fighters, who deserve all the accolades and attention.


The co-main event was a rematch between Jessica McCaskill (10-2, 3 KOs) and Cecilia Braekhus (36-2, 9 KOs) for all four belts at welterweight, for the undisputed title. They last fought in August last year, when McCaskill scored the major upset by dethroning the longtime undisputed champion by decision.


McCaskill started out strong tonight, roughing up the older Braekhus and landing big clean shots upstairs and downstairs. In fact, if they had had three-minute rounds rather than the silly two minutes women are stuck with, McCaskill likely could have stopped Braekhus in the first or second round.


McCaskill visibly hurt Braekhus several times and, just like in their first fight, made Braekhus extremely uncomfortable. Braekhus, like many European boxers, likes to box from the outside, using her jab and firing primarily 1-2’s. When faced with a fighter like McCaskill, who likes to fight rough, messy, and physically, these types of "proper" boxers tend to become uncomfortable and hold a lot. 


That's exactly what happened tonight. Braekhus began to hold excessively, trying to mitigate McCaskill's inside game but also smartly trying to push down on the smaller McCaskill and tire her out. 


In the seventh round, referee Rafael Ramos deducted a point from Braekhus for the holding. It was only the second round I had scored for the former champion, and it became an even 9-9 after the point deduction. 


In a few rounds, Braekhus was able to outland McCaskill, and in those I had her win the rounds. But the majority of rounds were won by McCaskill due to her landing more punches, and landing the far more effective shots as well. We didn't even have to progress past the first scoring criterion (clean, effective punching) in this fight; it was mostly an easy fight to score.


In the end, I scored it 96-93 for McCaskill. The official judges had it 100-89, 99-90, and 98-91, all for McCaskill. They had the right fighter winning, but the scorecards were oddly wide.

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