Juan Francisco Estrada won a majority decision over Roman Gonzalez Saturday to claim the vacant WBC super flyweight world title in an action-packed third installment of their rivalry.
Mexico's Estrada notched his second straight victory in the triology that began 10 years ago, taking advantage of Gonzalez's measured start before the Nicaraguan, nicknamed "Chocolatito," stepped up the pace at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Estrada got the nod by the barest margin, two judges scoring it in his favor 116-112 and 115-113 while the third saw it a 114-114 draw.
He improved to 44-3 with 28 wins inside the distance, looking much the sharper as he tagged Gonzalez with well-timed punches as the 35-year-old former four-division champion got off to a sluggish start.
In the middle rounds, however, Gonzalez, who fell to 51-4 with 41 knockouts, began to turn up the pressure -- moving forward aggressively and pushing Estrada back.
The ninth saw a string of momentum swings, Gonzalez doing damage to Estrada's body and Estrada firing combinations and landing a left hook that seemed to shake Gonzalez.
Gonzalez went down in the 10th but it was ruled a slip, and he had closed the gap by the start of the 12th.
However, Estrada came through in the final round, shaking off a left hook-right hand combination and landing a combination of his own as he gained the edge.
"I always go from less to more," Estrada said. "Chocolatito can't really do that because he's always going at 100 miles per hour throughout the fight.
"I made sure that I was counter-punching and threw a lot of punches."
Although it was close, it was a more clear-cut victory than Estrada's split-decision triumph in March of 2021.
"It was a nice fight for the public," Gonzalez said. "I did what I could, and that was the result."
With the 2021 win Estrada retained his WBC title and snatched Gonzalez's World Boxing Association belt.
He won on two of the judges' scorecards with one judge giving the fight to Gonzalez after a slugfest that some thought should have gone the Nicaraguan's way.
Their first fight came in 2012, when Gonzalez gained a unanimous decision in a light flyweight world title bout.