Khalid Yafai vs Roman Gonzalez Preview Feb. 29th
England’s unbeaten Khalid Yafai will be defending his WBA Jr. Bantamweight Title for the sixth time this Saturday, Feb. 29th in Frisco, Texas when he takes on former WBC World Champ Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez of Nicaragua. The 12-round bout can be seen live in North America on DAZN while fans in the UK can catch it on Sky Sports Action. Yafai was last in the ring in June when he beat Norbelto Jimenez by a unanimous decision. Gonzalez last saw action in December when he stopped Diomel Diocos in the second round.
**Watch live on DAZN this Saturday. Your first month is free.
Yafai vs Gonzalez Betting Odds
Here are the betting odds from online sportsbook BetOnline.ag (full review here).
- Roman Gonzalez +150
- Khalid Yafai -170
The 30-year-old Yafai hails from Birmingham and enters the ring with a perfect record of 26-0 with 15 Kos. He won the vacant title in December, 2016 by beating Luis Concepcion by unanimous decision in Manchester. Concepcion came in over weight so the title was on the line for Yafai only. He then defended it against Suguru Muranak and Sho Ishida by unanimous decisions as well as stopping David Carmona after seven rounds. He then took unanimous decisions over Israel Gonzalez and Jiminez so he hasn’t exactly fought the elite of the division. He’s also beaten Dixon Flores and Jason Cunningham.
Yafai was a fine amateur who fought for his homeland at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China and captured a silver medal as a flyweight at the European Amateur Boxing Championships in Moscow in 2010. He stands 5-feet-4-inches tall with a 64.5 inch reach. He’s not the most powerful junior bantamweight out there with a current knockout ratio of 57.7 per cent, but his power needs to be respected and shouldn’t be underestimated. He turned pro in 2012 and has 148 rounds under his belt since.
The 32-year-old Gonzalez suffered of back-to-back losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand by majority decision and fourth-round stoppage in 2017 and then took a year off before stopping Moises Fuentes in the fifth round. He then took another 15-month layoff before stopping Diocos in December. Gonzalez was known as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on the planet before running into Rungvisai and those are his only two defeats as he stands at a highly-impressive 48-2 with 40 Kos.
The first fight with Rungvisai was controversial as Gonzalez was dropped in the opening round and Rungvisai was deducted a point for head butting in the sixth, but he managed to fend off a late surge by Gonzalez to take his crown. Gonzalez is actually a former four-division world champion as he won the WBC Junior Bantamweight title in September, 2016 before meeting Rungvisai. He has also been a titleholder at minimumweight, light-flyweight and flyweight.
Gonzalez still has plenty of power with a current knockout ratio of 80 per cent but he’s also a good technical boxer. His mobility allows him to control the ring and he likes to use his aggression to unleash quick, painful combinations on his opponents whenever he sees an opening. He’s not the best defensive boxer in the world and there’s a question mark about his chin. Gonzalez turned pro in 2005 and has 238 rounds of experience since then.
Gonzalez stands 5-feet-3-inches tall and has a wingspan of 63 inches so he gives up an inch in height and 1.5-inches in reach to Yafai. He’s faced some good opposition over the years with wins over Akira Yaegashi, Rocky Fuentes, Valentin Leon, Edgar Sosa, Brian Viloria, Juan Francisco Estrada, Omar Salado, Omar Soto, Francisco Rosas, Katsunari Takayama, Yutaka Niida and Manuel Vargas.
If Gonzalez has regained his confidence with two consecutive knockouts after two straight losses then Yafai could be in trouble. Gonzalez was one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world a couple of years ago and he’s still just 32 years old. If his chin isn’t shot then I think his experience and power are a class above the champion and I think he’ll prove it Saturday night by taking Yafai’s title home with him.
Gonzalez has the experience, power and skills to take the title.
Play: Gonzalez +150 @ BetOnline.ag
Check out my recent boxing betting picks to see my current form.