We have all heard it time and time again over the last few years, it's said as a fact, it's said with little doubt and it's accepted as the truth. Floyd Mayweather is the #1 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. We hear it almost every time we watch a boxing broadcast, it's like a mantra coming from the well oiled machine of the western boxing media and it's heard by millions of fans around the world who accept is as gospel and something that simply cannot be questioned.
What everyone seems to be forgetting is that Mayweather's #1 status isn't clear cut, in fact if anything his recent struggles with the somewhat average Marcos Maidana and his failure to secure a fighter with his major rival leave him very prone to be questioned by the boxing fans out there who aren't drones and who are free thinking individuals who refuse to be brainwashed by the hype of the American boxing media.
For those fans another man stands out, a little Nicaraguan who is controlling an empire in the lower weights and smashing opponents up for fun. That is WBC and Linear Flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez (41-0, 35) who again showed off his destructive side with a vicious and controlling destruction of Filipino challenger Rocky Fuentes (35-8-2, 20).
Fuentes had entered the bout having lost just 3 bouts in his previous 25, with all 3 losses being close ones, he had traveled to Japan and Thailand and had been the Oriental champion for almost 3 years and to many he was an uncrowned champion ducked by those at the top due to his high risk-low reward status. Fuentes was the man people didn't want to fight and when they did fight him they generally didn't want to get too close to him as he was tough and heavy handed having developed amazingly well from his early boxing years where fights were based on him gaining experience as opposed to creating a pretty and undefeated record.
Through the first 4 rounds Gonzalez threw caution to the wind some what and like a genuine ruler went to war. He didn't feel the need to back off and show impenetrable defense, instead he set off with the intention of proving he had the better army and the better weapons. He went out to expand his empire by dominating his foe. This did see him catching a few solid shots though, as we've seen through his career, they had little effect on the Nicaraguan who appeared to show genuine contempt of Fuentes's power. It was, as if Fuentes was a peasant trying to fight back over the dictator and, like a real dictator, Gonzalez wasn't bothered by the one brave sole willing to stand up against him.
The open scoring had the bout 39-37 through 4 rounds though by the end of round 4 it appeared that Fuentes was beginning to struggle. His spirited effort was his unwinding and his defenses were breaking down. The Roman Empire was set to expand and it seemed that it was merely a matter of waiting, wondering how long Fuentes could survive.
Unfortunately for Fuentes it seemed Gonzalez could smell blood and began to crank things up, just as he had done when he had claimed this title back in September with a stoppage victory against Akira Yaegashi. As soon as that happened Fuentes began to look lost. Gonzalez continued to attack, attack and attack some more with Fuentes being chipped away at until he was dropped in round 6. The Filipino managed to recover to his feet though a follow up left him needing to be saved by the referee who knew that Fuentes was set to take a pounding.
Gonzalez's win his does see him recording his first win as the Flyweight champion. Unfortunately however very few fans got to actually watch the bout with it only being aired in Nicaragua and in Japan. This is where the Roman Empire struggles in comparison to Floyd Mayweather. Gonzalez is, at just 27, a 3 weight world champion with wins over a who's who including Fuentes, Yaegashi, Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Katsunari Takayama and Yutaka Niida, his form has been incredible and his performances have been destructive to say the least. Yet he unfortunately lacks the big mouth piece of US media that has helped perpetuate the myth that Mayweather is in a league of his own. Gonzalez, like Guillermo Rigondeaux, appears unable to capture the attention of the US and Europen TV outlets who are ignoring the best fighter on the planet. It's a shame though it appears to be a point echoed on twitter with many suggesting that channels now need to give some attention to Gonzalez as he is a very special fighter who brings everything fans want to see.
With or without US TV it seems the Roman Empire is set to expand and after his win over Fuentes he called out the likes of Estrada and Naoya Inoue, bouts that again would enhance the reputation of a man who wants to prove he is the best fighter in the sport. Gonzalez doesn't want to say he's the best, he appears more old school than that, instead he wants to show that he's the best and will continue chasing the best fighters in his division in an attempt to prove how good he really is.
It's not rare for Thai fighters to be fast tracked to world titles, as we've seen over the years with the likes of Saensak Muangsurin, though usually when Thai's are fast tracked to a boxing world title they've previously been an elite level kick boxer, as was the case with Muangsurin. Today we saw a man without the kick boxing background successfully claim a boxing world title in just his 12th professional bout.
The Thai, Amnat Ruenroeng (12-0, 5) may only be a professional novice but he had earned his world ranking with the IBF by playing the clever political games that fighters can do in a multi-title boxing world. Unfortantely his opponent, Filipino Rocky Fuentes (35-7-2, 20), had been unable to play those games and was, finally, getting his first chance despite having been a world raked fighter for a number of years.
Unfortunately for Funetes life was made harder as he had everything against him. The conditions in Thailand are never nice for a visiting fighter and thr crowd, which cheered every time Amnat landed, can't have done Fuentes any favours with the judging. Despite this he showed why some rate him as one of the best active fighters not to have won a world title.
The fight started well for Amnat who showed impressive hand speed in the early rounds. Fuentes's game plan was obvious, apply a lot of pressure and make Amnat work for every second of every round, something that the Thai had never had to do before. Early on the Thai, with fresh legs and movement, coped with the pressure well and was able to land numerous eye catching counters. For Fuentes however the counters weren't much of an issue, Amnat simply didn't have the power to bother him.
After Amnat had won the first few rounds with his sharp snappy punching he began to feel the pressure and early in round 4 the Thai was forced to throw Fuentes down and to hold the Filipino, both of which got the Thai warned by the referee.
Unfortunately as Fuentes seemed to be coming back in to things the TV broadcast cut away to a speech in Thai. We'll admit we're not sure what was said though we are aware that Thailand is currently in a state of emergency and the announcement was likely due to that. Unfortunately for us in the boxing fraternity it saw us missing most of round 4 and the entirety of round 5.
When we get back to the fight it seemed that Fuentes had began to really take charge as he dominated round 6 and appeared to be beating up on the Thai who was forced to eat shots inside and really take a bit of a pounding. It was looking like Fuentes's pressure wasn't just beginning to pay off but was starting to force the Thai to wilt in front of our eyes.
Unfortunately just as soon as Fuentes seemed to be taking over the fight he let Amnat off the hook and despite applying a lot of pressure in round 7 he was unable to get his shots off and really make another statement in the round. Had he been able to do that against the fancy Dan style foot work of Amnat in round 7 we feel he may have managed to have the title back to the Philippines.
Having all but given away round 7 Fuentes knew he had to step it back up and that's exactly what he did in round 8 as he forced Amnat to take shots, clinch and spoil merely to survive, it appeared we were on the verge of a capitulation from the Thai who had never been forced to work as hard in his career. The work rate and pressure of Fuentes was taking it's toll both mentally and physically with Amnat backing off relentlessly and trying to win rounds on his light but sharp straight punching. Unfortunately for Fuentes, knowing he was the visitor, every shot Amnat landed was cheered to the rafters.
As both men began to tire they began to lose their footing and slip. and this started to make things a bit messy though it was obvious that there was more fight in Fuentes than in Amnat who appeared happy to survive rather than fight. He appeared to feel that he had done enough to win the decision aswe went through the championship rounds. As we found out, the judges agreed giving Amnat the decision in an incredible close and very well contested bout that could easily have gone either way.
We're hoping that Fuentes will get a second world title chance in the near future whilst for Amnat this was a perfect way to announce himself on the world stage, even though he was fortunate to win. For a man with just 12 professional contests this is a major achievement and to be crowned the IBF champion so early is impressive. At 34 though he'll be hoping to make the most of his reign before father time gets the best of him.
Unfortunately we've been told that the scores were 116-112, 116-112 and 117-111 all in favour of Amnat and all probably a bit too wide, though there is no real complain about the winner.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.