Cuadras steps into PPV spotlight after loss to Chocolatito

LOS ANGELES (AP) Although Carlos Cuadras lost his WBC 115-pound title in his last bout, he gained more fame and fortune than he ever got out of his first 36 unbeaten professional fights combined.

Cuadras is ready to cash in on his notoriety from his thrilling defeat against Roman ”Chocolatito” Gonzalez, and he believes he’s headed straight toward a rematch with the pound-for-pound star.

Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KOs) returned to Los Angeles on Thursday to promote his bout with David Carmona on the pay-per-view undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s middleweight title defense against Daniel Jacobs at Madison Square Garden next month.

”It’s every fighter’s dream to be known worldwide,” Cuadras said through a translator. ”I think I’m on my way.”

Cuadras was a world champion last September, but he was still a little-known Mexican super flyweight when he was chosen as the opponent for Gonzalez’s attempt to win a title in a fourth weight class at the Forum in Inglewood. Cuadras had fought just once before outside Mexico or Japan, where his promoter is based, and only hard-core U.S. or European fans had ever heard of him.

Gonzalez was widely expected to walk through Cuadras in his own debut as a U.S. headliner. Instead, the champion put up a furious fight before losing his belt by a narrow decision to Chocolatito, whose invincible aura was thoroughly punctured.

The swelling on Gonzalez’s face proved Cuadras could hang with the world’s best, and his ring showmanship and toughness immediately made him a name to remember.

”He stole the show at the Forum,” promoter Tom Loeffler said. ”People didn’t know who he was, but they know now. It was his coming-out party.”

Loeffler has supplemented his main job as Golovkin’s promoter by finding and supporting a string of exciting fighters who had been missed by the boxing mainstream, just as Golovkin was before 2012. Gonzalez was barely known in the U.S. until Loeffler paired him with Golovkin on four undercards in recent years, turning the diminutive Nicaraguan star into a headliner who sold more than 6,700 seats at the Forum.

After watching Cuadras, Loeffler knew he had found another sellable, multilingual boxer with potential worldwide appeal. Cuadras’ English is passable, but he claims he speaks more Japanese from his years with Teiken Promotions.

While Gonzalez got the title last September, Cuadras also got an enormous boost. Fans greeted him at the airport on his return to Mexico City, and he immediately had enough name recognition to get his own showcase on an HBO pay-per-view card.

”I was really surprised how many people supported me,” Cuadras said. ”It really felt like I won. It still hurts a little, but I know it helps in the long run.”

The winner of Cuadras’ bout with Carmona is likely to become the mandatory challenger for Gonzalez, who faces Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisa on the Golovkin-Jacobs card in New York.

Cuadras nearly went straight to a rematch with Gonzalez, but when talks stalled, he agreed to take on Carmona, his fellow Mexico City product. Cuadras is still annoyed to see Gonzalez facing Sor Rungvisa, who lost to Cuadras in 2014 before winning 14 straight fights in the last three years.

”I think (Gonzalez) knows he’s going to lose the rematch,” Cuadras said. ”He knows I could knock him out. He understands that the next time we meet, it’s going to be Round 13. I’m going to pick up right where I left off.”