Yafai vs Gonzalez: Kal Yafai grinds out Israel Gonzalez win to retain WBA world title
By Matt Horan
Last Updated: 25/11/18 8:51am
Kal Yafai extended his super-flyweight world title reign with a hard-fought decision win over Israel Gonzalez in Monaco.
The WBA world champion, who impressively stopped David Carmona in California last time out, was given a much tougher test by Mexico's Gonzalez at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, rallying to take a 117-111 and 116-112 twice unanimous decision.
In the aftermath, the unbeaten Birmingham star, who improves his record to 25-0, voiced his disappointment at the performance as promoter Eddie Hearn reiterated a desire to now unify world titles.
Yafai started patiently from the opening bell, sizing up his man from behind a watchful guard and ripping out a straight jab as he began the fourth defence of his WBA belt.
While the champion took his time early on, Gonzalez began with a spring in his step, the Mexican quickly crashing home a thudding body blow, suggesting it would be far from a routine defence for the champion.
Clearly intent on making the most of his golden opportunity, Gonzalez - having to eat a body shot himself - continued to let his hands go in the next, a series of hooks landing in a lively and dominant period.
Despite the promising start from the challenger, Yafai had not been troubled much and he menacingly marched onto the front foot in the third, pummelling in single shots and grinning as a flush left hook crashed home upstairs.
Gonzalez continued to fire back with speed when in range as the pair traded up close, a smart combination landing from the Mexican in the fourth but the Brit, maintaining a tight guard, was getting the better of him, ripping his hands round the corner to the body.
In the fifth, 'Jiga' suddenly sustained a bad cut to his left eye, the referee indicating that it was caused by a clash of heads. After work in the corner, Gonzalez was given the green light to continue fighting and, sensing that the contest might head to early scorecards, both men resolutely went toe-to-toe.
From then on, it was Yafai who raised the tempo, the Birmingham man producing spiteful body work in the sixth round before an eye-catching left landed in a controlled seventh.
After working at such a lively pace early on, Gonzalez started to breathe heavily as the Birmingham man cut down the ring and pummelled home a jolting jab, the Mexican circling and firing back in closely-fought rounds.
A massive Yafai left hand then blasted home in the ninth but 'Jiga' resolutely bit down on the gum-shield and fired back with his own combination before another flurry followed in the next, the champion having to work very hard to keep hold of his title.
Trainer Max McCracken roared his man on for the championship rounds but it was Gonzalez who found a second wind, sending in crunching shots to the midriff area before raining in more artillery upstairs in a dominant 11th.
The challenger rallied in the final three minutes as he took the contest to the scorecards and on hearing the scores, clearly enraged, he marched out of the ring with fury.