Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Yafai vs Chocolatito: World champion Kal Yafai can deliver crucial blow to his idol Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez
Live on Sky Sports Arena tonight at 1am – Yafai vs Chocolatito, Parker vs Winters, Martinez vs Harris, Garcia vs Vargas
Last Updated: 29/02/20 8:54am
Roman Gonzalez, the whirlwind of aggression from crime-ridden Nicaragua, blazed a trail for boxing’s tiny champions that is now being enjoyed by Britain’s Kal Yafai.
It is a cruel twist of fate that tonight, live on Sky Sports Arena from 1pm, Yafai's defining fight comes against the 5'3'' groundbreaker known as 'Chocolatito'.
To reach the heights that he has always threatened to, Yafai must destroy the future of the man he idolises.
🗣"Biggest fight of my life, toughest fight of my life." @iam_yafai is fighting a modern day legend in Chocolatito. Will he remain the WBA king after Saturday night?— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) February 27, 2020
📺 Watch the fight live on Sky Sports Arena this Saturday night (Sunday Morning) from 1am pic.twitter.com/ZaHk2WfRjR
'Chocolatito' is just two years older than Yafai but in boxing years, which are a bit like dog years, he is vastly more hardened by the trials and tribulations of the ring. He was a two-weight world champion on a 32-fight unbeaten streak when Yafai made his professional debut.
Mainstream recognition eluded 'Chocolatito', like it does so many boxers in the smallest weight classes. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao breached that chasm in popularity but 'Chocolatito' instead earned a battle-hardened reputation as a cult hero.
He won world titles across four weight divisions (strawweight, light-flyweight, flyweight and super-flyweight), outdoing his mentor Alexis Arguello, the legend of Nicaraguan boxing.
'Chocolatito' was a mainstay of any serious discussion about the pound-for-pound best boxer on the planet.
He strung together an estimated 88-0 amateur record then a 46-0 pro record, just four short of Mayweather's famous total, when it fell apart brutally.
In 2017 he was out-battled by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai - a bigger and fresher version of himself. The rematch was more conclusive and more vicious, and 'Chocolatito' was left in an unconscious slump. The sudden passing of his trainer, Arnulfo Obando, before his first defeats can't have been a coincidence. It would have been an awful way to end a genuinely meaningful career.
In the two-and-a-half years since he has won two comeback fights, totalling less than seven full rounds, and will challenge for Yafai's WBA super-flyweight title in Texas tonight.
"He is someone I've looked up to for a very long time," said Birmingham's Yafai. "It is hard to be fighting him. I'll do what I have to do to win the fight.
"But I'm a huge admirer of what he's done for the smaller divisions.
"But I'll remain Britain's longest-reigning world champion."
This is the feted opponent that Yafai has waited years for, and that his career deserves. He won his belt in 2016 in Manchester and has defended it five times but never against an opponent of the calibre of 'Chocolatito'.
There is a feeling that Yafai is catching 'Chocolatito' at the right time. The old warhorse has many miles on the clock, and the champion from Britain is entering his most important fight. But to win it, Yafai will effectively end the future hopes of the man who made it all possible for him.