Boxing legend Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez met with the media on Tuesday to provide a glimpse inside the training camp of Eduardo and Leonardo Baez, the identical twins who will fight on the main card of Ring City USA’s final event from Puerto Rico, live on NBC Sports Network this Thursday, March 25 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Thursday’s event from the Plaza del Quinto Centernario in Old San Juan is the previously announced 10-round title fight featuring seven-division world champion and future Hall of Famer Amanda Serrano (39-1-1, 29 KOs) defending her WBO and WBC featherweight world titles against current two-division titlist Daniela Bermudez (29-3-3, 10 KOs).
“Chocolatito” was a training and sparring partner the last two months with identical twin brothers Eduardo and Leonardo Baez, both of whom are featured on the loaded undercard this Thursday. Head trainer Marcos Caballero, who held camp in Coachella, Calif. for the three fighters, is in Puerto Rico this week to work both corners. On March 13, Gonzalez and long-time rival Juan Francisco Estrada engaged in a sure-fire ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate, an epic clash which still has the boxing world buzzing. This past weekend Gonzalez received a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Managua, Nicaragua.
In an eight-round bantamweight clash, Puerto Rico’s Abimael ‘Manos de Piedra’ Ortiz (8-0-1, 4 KOs) battles Mexico-born Eduardo ‘Lalo El Gemelo’ Baez (18-1-2, 6 KOs), who now fights out of Calexico, Calif. Also featured on the NBC Sports Network card is an eight-round battle in the super-bantamweight division when hard-hitting Carlos ‘Purin’ Caraballo (13-0-0, 13 KOs) of Ponce, P.R., hits the squared circle against Leonardo ‘Leon’ Baez (18-3-0, 9 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico.
Gonzalez spoke with the media to share insights from training camp with the Baez twins, in addition to his mentality following his controversial decision loss to Juan Francisco Estrada on March 13. Below are highlights from his conversation with the media:
ROMAN “CHOCOLATITO” GONZALEZ
On the chance for the Baez brothers to fight on Ring City: “This is a great opportunity. They are two young fighters who are taking great advantage of their opportunities. They have a great staff behind them and at the same time, they take advantage of the opportunities. You can see it in their work ethic in the gym. These types of opportunities for prospects are a big step up and they are ready.”
On what the brothers learned from him: “I tried to teach them a lot. I tried to teach them through my experience. I wanted to show them that conditioning inside of the ring is key so I would throw a lot of punch combinations during sparring so that they would be used to that high intensity interval training in the ring.”
On what has impressed him with the Baez brothers: “They are very strong, and they know how to combine their punches very well. On top of that, they have a great work ethic. They always push forward in the ring and have great conditioning so that is a great factor.”
On the improvements of the Baez brothers: “They are learning. They have learned to combine their hands a lot more with faster ability in their punches. I believe their physical conditioning has improved a lot too. They have been doing their physical and strength, along with boxing, with me.”
On how working with the Baez brothers helps him: “It’s a fountain of youth. It’s great to train alongside prospects like the Baez brothers. They have a great amount of energy and it rubs off. It’s great chemistry to work not just with prospects but really good prospects. They help me a lot in my preparation.”
On Leonardo’s last fight against Jason Maloney: “I don’t think every fight is the same. For that fight, he only had two weeks to prepare. But for this fight, he is well prepared, and I know he is going to come out with the victory.”
On how he tells the brothers apart: “One of them, in their last fight, had stitches in their head so I identify them by the scar but before I couldn’t.”
On whether he watched his fight against Estrada: “Only highlights. The game plan that we focused on in the gym was well executed but the decision wasn’t there.”
On his mindset after the fight: “I feel well. I feel happy and loved with my family. I am happy with the outcome of my preparation even though the decision wasn’t there.”
On the suspension of judge Carlos Sucre: “I feel good about it. It’s the best that they have done. I believe that it looks toward bringing justice to all boxers.”
On retirement: “I’ve never said, and never even hinted, at retirement. I gave an excellent fight against Estrada and I am not going to retire after that great victory.”