One of the best match-ups in boxing is now booked, so if you’re a snob about the smaller weight classes, time to get over it.
Lineal flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi and pound-for-pound talent Roman Gonzalez are going to fight in September (a notion in the works for a while). That’s plenty good, right there, that sentence. We’re talking about the king of perhaps the best division in the sport against the little man some would argue is one of the five top boxers in the sport.
It also just so happens that they’re both a thrill a minute. Gonzalez (pictured) has real punching power, and he knows how to use it. Yaegashi made his name in the 2011 Fight of the Year, a victory over Pornsawan Porpramook. Here’s what I wrote about that one back when:
Much like the buzz that built about the fight as it circulated from boxing forum to boxing forum, from Twitter follower to Twitter follower, Akira Yaegashi-Pornsawan Porpramook was a slow burn at the beginning. I compared it originally to a motorcycle revving up — loud and dangerous, but the brakes were still applied. By the middle rounds, it had taken off. By the 7th round, it was leaving trails of fire. Watching that round, you think, “No way this gets any better.”
And then, in the 8th, somehow, it does.
Gonzalez is very highly regarded, and deserves to be. He won a war with Juan Franciso Estrada before we knew how good Estrada was, and then Estrada proved it was no fluke with his subsequent run. Gonzalez has long been hailed as the successor to Ivan Calderon as the best small fighter in the game. He’ll enter as the favorite, one expects.
Still, Yaegashi might be his toughest opponent. Estrada is probably the better fighter, but Gonzalez-Estrada was one division south of where Yaegashi rules. Himself a weight-jumper, Yaegashi has exceeded expectations at 112, beating Edgar Sosa and others and showing new dimensions beyond brawling. That said, he struggled a bit his last time out and could be getting a little old at 31.
But this fight is dope. Yaegashi and Gonzalez both could leap to a much higher level with a win. Don’t be silly and miss it: Size isn’t everything.