Estrada pulls out close split decision vs. Chocolatito

Two of the finest fighters in the world put on a show Saturday. There was no whining about sides of the street or pay-per-view points or any of the million little things that keep major fights from being made.

Instead, Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez went out and put on a show for the ages in a bout that instantly becomes the front-runner for 2021 Fight of the Year.

Estrada pulled out a hotly contested split decision over the legendary Nicaraguan in their battle for the WBA and WBC super flyweight belts Saturday at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Carlos Sucre scored it 117-111 for Estrada, a card that seemed too wide. David Sutherland had it 115-113 for Estrada, while Jesse Reyes had it 115-113 for Gonzalez.

Yahoo Sports had it 115-113 for Gonzalez. Gonzalez was surprisingly at peace with the decision, repeatedly referencing God’s will. But when he was asked if he’d like a rubber match because the series is now tied at 1-1, he grinned and held up two fingers.

He won their incredible first fight, which was contested at 108 pounds in 2012 in Los Angeles, but this one may have surpassed it. It was almost nonstop action from the opening bell, and according to CompuBox, they combined to throw an astonishing 2,529 punches.

Gonzalez threw more and landed more, connecting on 391 of 1,317 shots. Estrada hit on 314 of 1,212.

After the ninth round of what clearly was a pitched battle, Estrada’s corner told him he was behind and needed a knockout to win. That was unusual, especially so early, but he pulled it out.

“I knew it was a close fight,” Estrada said. “I didn’t know if I were up or down, but I wanted to close out the fight in the last couple of rounds.”

Gonzalez fought with the savvy of a veteran of 33 years old, which he is, but he fought as if the clock hadn’t moved a minute since their 2012 bout.

He was on top of his game and at periods when Estrada began to garner momentum, he’s land a combination or dig to the body and fight his way back into it.

It was a classic bout that could have gone either way. Sucre’s scorecard was too wide, though it didn’t ruin the fight. It did, though, add fuel for the talk of a rematch.

“It was a better fight than the first one,” Gonzalez said. “I felt strong and I felt I’d won it, but it was a great [fight]. But that’s what God wanted. The result is what God wanted. I’m happy because I’m going back home to see my family.”

And most of the fans who watched it are happy and probably going to get up and stream it again a time or three. It was that kind of a fight.

Juan Francisco

Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez during their WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine Super-Flyweight unification fight Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

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