Fuentes gets his second world title shot of the year, unfortunately for him it comes against Chocolatito
Boxing has always had unfortunate fighters who, in a different era, could have been a champion. The fighters that always seem to be frozen out or only get a chance on foreign soil or against a completely sensational talent. It appears that popular Filipino Rocky Fuentes (35-7-2, 20) maybe one such fighter. In a different era or with a big promoter behind him we have no doubts that Fuentes would have held a world title. Sadly however he is fighting now and the Flyweight division is the toughest division in the sport right today with his upcoming opponent, WBC Flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez (40-0, 34) being possibly the best fighter on the planet today.
The 28 year old Fuentes began his career aged just 16 and in just his 4th bout he had a man's life on his hands after the death of John Eman Juarez. For many young fighters that would have been it and lesser fighters would have walked away from the sport, for Fuentes however it was one of many disappointments as he began one of the sports true hard luck careers.
Fuentes would begin his career 8-0 before quickly dropping to 9-3-2 as he had to travel for fighters losing 3 of 4 bouts on the road. Sadly for Fuentes it was on the road that he had to spend much of his career with bouts taking place in Thailand, Indonesia and Japan. The travels saw him gain the well earned moniker of the "Road Warrior" though he began fighting better on the road than at home and scored notable wins over Yuki Nasu, Masafumi Okubo, Shigetaka Ikehara, Yasuto Aritomi and Hirofumi Mukai as he won and defended the OPBF Flyweight title. In total Fuentes would make 6 OPBF title defences in less than 3 years whilst also fighting other non-title bouts. It was a case of fighting and waiting, waiting for his well earned world title fight. Unfortunately the wait was a frustrating one as he scored 15 straight wins and 22 wins from 23 contests and saw a man he beat, Mukai, get a WBC title fight just 4 months after Fuentes had beaten him.
Fuentes got his first world title bout earlier this year in his 44th professional bout and unsurprisingly he had to go on the road again. Sadly that took him to Thailand, a country renowned for being difficult to win in, and unfortunately he came up short against unbeaten Thai Amnat Ruenroeng in a very competitive bout. The loss wasn't a bad one for Fuentes but it was certainly a hard one to swallow considering what he had done to earn a shot in comparison to Ruenroeng who was fighting for just the 12th time as a professional.
For those who haven't seen Fuentes in action you've been missing out. At his best he's an intelligent pressure fighter with heavy hands and an exciting in the ring. He's not the most polished fighter out there but he is a fighter who always seems to be be in entertaining scraps, such as his contest with Juan Kantun that saw 4 knockdowns and when he needs to box he can though we get the feeling he prefers to force the action in an attempt to make a point and keep the judges from trying to take the fight away from him. Sadly for a fighter with his style he perhaps lacks a tiny bit in terms of power, though he is certainly not feather fisted by any stretch of the imagination.
As mentioned above Fuentes will be up against Roman Gonzalez, a man who needs no introduction at all and a man every fight fan should be full aware of. The Nicaraguan fighter a born fighter with a mentality that has shown he wants to prove he's the best no matter where that sees him fighting. As a result he has fought many of his most significant bouts in Japan where where he claimed his first world title, with a 4th round TKO against Yutaka Niida in 2008, made the second defense of his WBA Minimumweight title against Katsunari Takayama in 2009, claimed the WBA interim Light Flyweight title with a 2nd round KO against Francisco Rosas, and most recently claimed the WBC Flyweight title with a victory over Akira Yaegashi. Despite beating many of Japan's finest he hasn't become public enemy #1 but instead has been accepted by the Japanese fight fans who have warmed quickly to the Nicaraguan terror.
For those who haven't seen Gonzalez they've been missing out on the sports best offensive fighter, most frightening pressure fighter and possibly the best combination puncher in the sport. Built like a mini-tank Gonzalez employs exceptional footwork, insane strength, frightening speed, spiteful power and a mind blowing array of punches thrown in crisp and sharp combinations. There has been no proven way to make him look bad and only a handful of fighters have even made it to the final bell against him with the most recent of these being Juan Francisco Estrada back in November 2012, Estrada has since gone on to become the other leading fighters at Flyweight. Amazingly Estrada is the only man in the last 12 fights to see out the distance with Gonzalez who has been on a real tear through the lower weights in recent years.
Watching Gonzalez is a genuine pleasure as he stalks his pray with intense pressure, breaking them mentally by never backing up and breaking them physically with his arsenal of heavy shots. In some ways he's the antithesis of Guillermo Rigondeaux and whilst he has a similarly high skill level to Rigondeaux and Floyd Mayweather Jr he has the mentality of fighting offensively and given fans a show that ends with a knockout. Sometimes it sees him leaving himself a little bit open to counters but by then an opponent is usually to beat up to take advantage as Gonzalez goes for the finish.
With both fighters enjoying a fight, both sharing a mentality of fighting on the front foot and both wanting to impress we suspect we could be in for a high octane affair here with both likely to end up trading on the inside in some highlight reel exchanges. Unfortunately for Fuentes that could be the worst idea with Gonzalez being defensively tighter and offensively more explosive, faster, more effective and all-round better. For fans however we suspect this could be a short lived but thrilling war before Fuentes is ground down, like in the middle rounds of a very memorable contest.
It's a real shame that Fuentes gets his second world title fight against a monster like Gonzalez though at the moment the Flyweight division is genuinely the toughest in the sport and a loss to Gonzalez is nothing but expected for everyone currently competing in the division.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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