Boxing: Khalid Yafai vs. Roman Gonzalez preview and pick
In a fight that can be either the last stand of a living legend or the coronation of a top-tier competitor, there is plenty to look out for when Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez faces off against Khalid “Kal” Yafai on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Though Gonzalez’s status as one of the best lower-division fighters of all time is set in stone, he is in prime position to add another title in the twilight of his career. Can Yafai’s youth and speed overcome Gonzalez’s guile and determination?
Khalid Yafai vs. Roman Gonzalez Odds
Gonzalez is far from finished
While Gonzalez is on the back nine and fighting in his fifth division, it still will take a special kind of fighter to beat him. His two losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai came against an elite fighter who skillfully used his size to walk Gonzalez down and hurt him repeatedly, but Yafai is not that big and doesn’t possess an elite skill set.
A textbook fighter who works behind his jab and speed, Yafai doesn’t have any qualities that can trouble the veteran. Yafai closing the gap to pressure Gonzalez would be an out-of-character move that would essentially give Gonzalez the fight.
Yafai has yet to be tested
Yafai has been active and visible, but there isn’t a lot to suggest he is a top fighter, beyond holding on to a title. He has fought meandering opponents for quite some time and looked average in victory, talked down unification fights against the other champions who would surely beat him, and only now is jumping on the chance to fight Gonzalez because he thinks Gonzalez is shot.
While Gonzalez is far removed from his prime, writing him off as a doormat would be unwise.
Gonzalez won't get flustered
Expect Yafai to style on Gonzales a bit during the feeling-out portion of the fight, but he'll comes up with no answers once Gonzalez makes his adjustments. Gonzalez will take a few rounds to get his activity going, but he’ll punch first and tie Yafai up at the end of his combinations to throw his younger opponent off his rhythm.
Frustrated and desperate, Yafai’s inexperience will only open him up to more punishment, as Gonzalez will deliver a vintage performance down the stretch. Gonzalez has more than enough in the tank for Yafai, so the call here is a Chocolatito upset on the cards.