HBO Boxing Results: Braekhus, Shields, and Estrada Win on Final Show
By: Hans Themistode
It was a clean sweep as Cecilia Braekhus (35-0, 8 KOs) and Claressa Shields (8-0, 2 KOs) both retained their titles with relative ease tonight.
For Claressa it was a dominant showing against the current Super Middleweight champion Fenke Hermans (9-2, 3 KOs). Fenke showed tremendous heart in finishing the bout upright but it was a clear victory for Claressa.
From the very beginning there was absolutely no feel out rounds for the reigning unified Middleweight champion. She came out of the gates fast looking to inflict damage on her opponent. Every round looked exactly the same as Claressa made her opponent miss while landing monstrous shots of own. It was the kind of performance from Claressa that showed exactly why she is a super star with only eight pro bouts.
For as dominant as Claressa was she takes a back seat to the current pound-for-pound queen and unified Welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus.
The aforementioned Braekhus put on an absolute clinic. Her opponent Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes (18-5-3, 1 KO) kept fighting until the end but just didn’t have the skill necessary to dethrone the champion.
To demonstrate just how dominate Braekhus was tonight she only lost one total round according to one judge.
Yes one. That is not a miss print.
The two female headliners absolutely showed out tonight but let’s not forget about Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26 KOs) who made a statement of his own tonight by stopping the tough Victor Mendez (28-4-2, 20 KOs). For Mendez it was the first stoppage loss in his career. The reason this is significant is because Mendez has shared the ring with several great fighters, most notably former WBC champion Luis Nery.
Estrada punished Mendez all fight long until he was forced to throw in the towel. Estrada has been itching for a rematch with current champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. With a performance like he had tonight there is no doubt he will be getting his wish very soon.
All of the fights were entertaining tonight. Those who were supposed to win did so and in dominant fashion. As much as I would love to continue to heap praise on these fighters, the attention should be placed on something much more important at the moment. Let’s acknowledge HBO here.
The network has officially left the world of boxing after 45 plus years of coverage. Of course the sport of boxing will go on but something will forever seem as though it’s missing. Some of the very best to lace them up both past and present have graced that platform. From Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran to current great fighters in Canelo Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol. It is a sad day in boxing but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Farewell HBO, you will be missed.
HBO Boxing Preview: Shields vs. Hermans, Estrada vs. Mendez, Braekhus vs.
By: Hans Themistode
This Saturday night from the StubHub Center in California, HBO will be presenting a triple header for the final card on their boxing platform.
Current unified Women’s Middleweight world champion Claressa Shields (7-0, 2 KOs) will be looking to defend her titles against Femke Hermans (9-1, 3 KOs).
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Account/Hogan Photos
For those unfamiliar with Femke she is not only a skilled and tough fighter but she is also the current WBO Super Middleweight champion. Femke dropped down in weight in order to make this fight happen. Femke won the WBO title earlier this year when she dethroned Nikki Adler for the vacant crown. Since then she has gone on to defend her title twice this year. Realizing that the Shields fight was a possibility Femke decided to drop down in weight in order to make the bout a reality.
For Shields taking on yet another champion is something she has grown accustomed to. The two time Olympic gold medalist has built her short career on taking the most difficult challenges.
In just her second pro fight she captured the NABF Super Middleweight title. In her fourth bout she snagged a legit world title by defeating Nikki Adler for both the IBF and WBC Super Middleweight titles. Earlier this year she entered the record books by becoming a two weight world champion when she dropped down in weight and captured both the IBF and WBA Middleweight titles.
Shields is attempting to defend her titles while also fighting on short rest. Just three weeks ago Claressa defended her IBF and WBA titles while capturing the vacant WBC title. Yes just three short weeks later and she’s back in the ring once again. Don’t expect Shields to be fatigued going into this bout as she has grown accustomed to a busy schedule. Both of these women are sure to bring their A games to this matchup.
Claressa will be sharing the spotlight this Saturday night with two other bouts of note.
Juan Francisco Estrada (37-3, 25 KOs) will be looking to get back in the mix for a title shot when he takes on Victor Mendez (28-3-2, 20 KOs). Estrada won’t just be looking to secure a victory but he will try to do so in dominant fashion.
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Account/Hogan Photos
Earlier this calendar year Estrada engaged in a fight of the year caliber contest against current WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Although the bout was close Estrada ultimately lost by majority decision. He is itching to get his chance at redemption but will first have to knock off the tough and durable Victor Mendez. For the aforementioned Mendez this is his opportunity to vault up the rankings and secure his own shot at a world title. Since losing to Arthur Villanueva in November of 2016, Mendez has reeled off four straight victories with his last two coming via knockout.
Mendez will be the bigger man come Fight night as he has a three inch height advantage. Checking in at 5’7 compared to 5’4 for Estrada. He has also given contenders a tough time. Just ask former WBC champion Luis Nery as he matched up with Mendez in 2014 and only managed to win by a close split decision.
In short, Mendez is no push over. If Estrada is hoping to land a title shot in the near future he will have to leave an impression in this fight. However as we have seen with Mendez time and time again that will not be an easy task.
Headlining the card is the consensus pound-for-pound best female fighter in the world Cecilia Braekhus (34-0, 9 KOs) and Undisputed Welterweight champion. She will be looking to defend her titles against Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes (18-4-3, 1 KO).
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Account/Hogan Photos
Magdziak-Lopes is not new to challenging for a world title as this will be her third effort. Her first two attempts came in losing efforts to Mikaela Lauren and Ewa Piatkowska. Magdziak-Lopes however is hoping that the third time truly the charm.
Winning her first world title won’t be easy as she’s facing her stiffest competition in Braekhus.
Let’s be honest here. The deck is stacked mightily against Aleksandra. She has never faced someone with the skill nor pedigree of Braekhus. However with that being said Aleksandra can take solace in her present form. She has not lost a fight in over two years while defeating the likes of Patty Ramirez and Lisa Noel Garland.
Aleksandra also has nothing to lose at this point. If she loses then she was supposed to. There can be no shame in losing to who many regard as being the best fighter on the planet. If she wins however then her life can be changed forever. She has nothing to lose but plenty to gain. It will take Herculean effort to dethrone Braekhus but Magdziak-Lopes seems up to the task.
HBO has been the home for almost five decades for the world of boxing. “Prince” Naseem Hamed, Bernard Hopkins, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Oscar De La Hoya to name a few have all graced this platform. As HBO bows out of the sport it is fitting that they are doing so with the Queen of boxing leading the charge.
Pedro Guevara-Juan Estrada Talks Stall, Planned HBO Bout In Jeopardy
By Jake Donovan
For the second time this year, Mexico’s Pedro Guevara was forced to deal with the reality of canceled plans for a showdown with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.
For the second time this week, the former 108-pound titlist is about to watch another planned bout fall by the wayside.
The 29-year old from Mazatlan, Mexico was reportedly heading for a showdown with countryman Juan Francisco Estrada, who was named as the leading replacement after Gonzalez suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw.
However, BoxingInsider.com has learned that talks of the rematch have never advanced beyond early negotiations and apparently have hit a wall.
“It’s very disappointing,” Oswaldo Küchle, head of Promociones del Pueblo told BoxingInsider.com on Tuesday of his client being left in the dark less than two weeks ahead of fight night.
Guevara is slated to appear on the December 8 edition of HBO’s Boxing After Dark, the telecast’s significance coming in it being the last for the cable giant, whose brass has opted to bow out of the boxing business after more than 45 years of service. His originally scheduled clash with Gonzalez was budgeted to accompany the two best female boxers in the planet, Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields in separate bouts.
Braekhus (34-0, 9KOs)—the unbeaten welterweight from Norway by way of Colombia who along with unbeaten cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk are the only two undisputed (four-belt) champions in the sport today—enters her 24th consecutive defense of at least one welterweight title as she faces Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (18-4-3, 1KO) in the main event. In supporting action, Shields (7-0, 2KOs)—who captured Olympic Gold for the United States in 2012 and 2016—defends her unified middleweight titles versus Femke Hermans.
The men’s side of show took its first hit when Gonzalez struggled to push through a knee injury suffered during training camp, thus opting to sit out the remainder of 2018. Guevara (32-3-1, 19KOs) was thrilled that he would remain on the show after his team discovered over the weekend that a quick replacement was potentially found in Estrada, a former two-division titlist who was already training for a planned stay-busy bout at home in Mexico.
Loeffler has served as an intermediary between Promociones del Pueblo and Zanfer Promotions head Fernando Beltran—the latter whom represents Estrada—given that the two Mexico promotional powerhouses are longtime rivals who rarely do business together, and time is of the essence in keeping the December 8 show afloat.
It doesn’t seem to matter to the Estrada side, who is now apparently balking at the proposed match.
“Monday we got a call from (Loeffler) stating that Estrada would replace Chocolatito,” Küchle told BoxingInsider.com. “Since then, no answer from anyone. It’s totally disrespectful and unprofessional (of Zanfer Promotions).”
Guevara is doing his best to remain the consummate professional, regardless of who he faces and where it takes place. Once among the best junior flyweights in the world, he’s since moved up in weight after a failed bid to become a two-time titlist in a tightly contested decision loss to the excellent Ken Shiro last October in Japan.
Two wins have followed, although neither have come against his intended target in Gonzalez.
“We had the best training camp of my career and I am ready,” Guevara insists. “I was ready for Chocolatito and I am ready for Estrada. Anytime two Mexicans are in the ring, it’s very exciting, so let’s do this.”
Given the constant change in plans he’s been forced to endure in 2018, it’s easy to see why Guevara is eager for a big fight—or at least concrete plans.
The fallout with Gonzalez was the second time in less than seven months that a pairing between the two hit the scrap heap. Gonzalez—the former pound-for-pound king and four division champ—was forced to bow out of a planned clash in May when a massive visa backlog kept him grounded in his native Nicaragua.
Guevara went on to take a stay-busy fight later than month in his hometown of Mazatlan, along with a 10th round stoppage win over Roberto Sanchez this past September in Ciudad Obregon. Both bouts aired live on Televisa, with whom Guevara is aligned through Promociones del Pueblo.
Estrada and the rest of the Zanfer Promotions stable regularly fight on TV Azteca in Mexico. Rival promoters offering content on rival networks will go a long way in explaining why the two sides don’t conduct much business together. Reliable sources have suggested that local TV rights remains a sticking point in finalizing a Guevara-Estrada clash, although all parties involved have denied such rumors when contacted by Boxinginsider.com.
The hope on Guevara’s side was to use the exposure to come from the December 8 telecast to create demand for a third attempt at getting Gonzalez in the ring.
“He’s (still) a great fighter and we both aspire to once again become a world champion,” notes Guevara. “I very much hope we can still do the fight in 2019.
“For now, I just want the chance to fight on HBO for the first time. It’s an incredible honor and a great opportunity that I won’t take for granted.”
Hopefully, it’s an opportunity he gets to take at all.
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Estrada and Ioka Victorious, Nietes Draws with Palicte
By: William Holmes
HBO returned to the Forum in Inglewood, California to broadcast their third foray into the Super Flyweight Division, dubbed Super Fly 3.
The Super Flyweight Division is currently one of boxing most intriguing, and it has drawn former World Minimumweight, Light Flyweight, and Flyweight world champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1) out of retirement and into a bout with McWilliams Arroyo (17-3).
Ioka was “retired” for seventeen months, and was giving up size to Arroyo. Ioka went to the body early on but Arroyo was able to land a few good combinations upstairs.
Ioka looked more relaxed in the second round and had Arroyo backing up most of the round, but Arroyo was able to stunt some of Ioka’s momentum in the third with crisp head snapping uppercuts mixed in with a faster consistent pace, but Ioka re-established control at the very end of the round with a hard knockdown from a right hand.
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Account
Ioka looked confident going into the fourth round and was taking good angles and landing to the head and body of Arroyo. Ioka took a lot of uppercuts in the fifth round, but continued to come forward landing body shots and did not appear to be too phased by the. Arroyo did end the round with combination ending with a clean left hook.
Ioka initiated the action in the sixth round and engaged in some fierce exchanges in the seventh round with Arroyo. Arroyo showboated as the round came to an end.
Arroyo came forward in the eighth round but Ioka was throwing the higher number of punches. The ninth round was punctuated by a left hook from Ioka and he entered the last round with a comfortable lead.
Arroyo needed a knockout to win the bout in the final round, but he was unable to pull it off.
The judges scored it 99-90, 97-92, and 97-92 for Kazuto Ioka.
The co-main event of the evening was between Donnie Nietes (41-1-4) and Aston Palicte (24-2), two Filipino fighters in the Super Flyweight division.
Nietes was the more polished and experienced fighter of the two, but Palicte was younger and much bigger. Palicte was throwing jabs to the body and head in the opening round while Nietes appeared to focus mainly on the body.
Palicte showed that he was the harder puncher in the second round but was getting out landed by Nietes. Nietes accuracy was better than Palicte in the third and fourth round, but the rounds were close.
Palicte likely stole the fifth round as Nietes looked like he took the round off, but Nietes picked up the action again in the sixth and seventh rounds to retake control of the momentum of the fight.
Photo Credit:HBO Boxing Twitter Account
Both landed heavy blows in the eight round and showcased solid chins. Nietes looked like he was going for a knockout in the tenth round and had Palicte looking like he was discouraged.
The technical superiority of Nietes remained apparent in the final two rounds of the fight, despite his age and size disadvantage. He had Palicte badly hurt in the final round and appeared close to knocking him down, but Palicte was able to survive.
The final scores were 116-112 Palicte, 118-110 Nietes, and 114-114 for a split draw.
The main event of the evening was between Juan Francisco Estrada (36-3) and Felipe Orucuta (36-4) in the Super Flyweight Division.
Estrada was considered by many to be a heavy favorite going into this fight, and he looked to be in incredible shape.
Orucuta looked to be a langy fighter and was getting tagged by the lead left hooks early on. Orucuta height however made him an awkward target, but he was getting outworked early on.
Estrada focused his jab to the body of Orucuta in the third and fourth rounds and didn’t look too concerned about the power shots of Orucuta. Orucuta looked like he was beginning to tire, but was still able to land some decent shots.
Orucuta touched the ground with his gloves in the fifth round but it was ruled a slip. Orucuta briefly had Estrada in trouble by the ropes in the sixth round.
Orucuta was making it a fight though and got into several fierce exchanges with Estrada in an action packed seventh round. Orucuta however was hurt in the eighth round with a hard right hand that had the fans on their feet.
Photo Credit:HBO Boxing Twitter Account
Orucuta and Estrada continued to go back and forth into the ninth and tenth rounds, and Estrada didn’t appear to look like he wanted to go for the stoppage. Orucuta ability to take a good punch was tested in the final two rounds, and he passed it with flying colors.
Estrada was comfortably ahead in the final round, but he still had a bloody nose from the efforts of Orucuta. Estrada, despite likely being ahead, stepped on the gas pedal in the final round in an effort to get the stoppage and had tagged Orucuta several times.
The final scores were 118-110, 117-111, and 117-111 for Estrada.
HBO Boxing Preview: Estrada vs. Orucuta, Nietes vs. Palicte
By: William Holmes
HBO has put on two previous cards featuring fighters all in the super flyweight division, and they dubbed it “Super Fly”. Saturday will feature their third Super Fly event, and it will be televised live on HBO from the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Three fights will likely be televised. Kazuto Ioka will face McWilliams Arroyo in a bout that will have future title implication. The co-main event of the night will be between Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte for the WBO Super Flyweight title. The main event of the night will be between Juan Francisco Estrada and Felipe Orucuta for the WBC Super flyweight eliminator.
The undercard will feature fighters such as Alexanderu Marin, Bruno Escalante, Joselitl Velasquez, and a WBC Women’s Strawweight title fight between Louisa Hawton and Brenda Flores.
The following is a preview of the two planned televised fights with implications for the WBC title.
Donnie Nietes (41-1-4) vs. Aston Palicte (24-2); WBO Junior Bantamweight Title
Donnie Nietes is one of the world’s best boxers that most American fans have never heard of.
However, he’s currently thirty six years old and is nearing the end of his prime. He’s also fighting in a new higher weight class. He’s nine years older than his opponent, and will be giving up four inches in height and about two and a half inches in reach.
Both boxers are from the Philippines, but Palicte appears to have had more success as an amateur. He represented the Philippines in the 2008 AIBA Youth World Championships.
It also appears Palicte is the bigger puncher of the two. Only four of his wins went the distance, while eighteen of Nietes wins went the distance.
However, as a professional, Nietes has had the better career and faced the better competition. He has beaten the likes of Juan Carlos Reveco, Komgrich Nantapech, Edgar Sosa, Francisco Rodriguez Jr., Raul Garcia, and Moises Fuentes. He was previously a WBO Light Flyweight World Titlist and a WBO World Minimumweight Champion. His lone lass was in 2004 to Angky Angkotta by split decision.
Additionally, Nietes has fought out of the Philippines nine times during his career, so his record isn’t based on beating up lesser known Filipinos in a friendly arena.
The one edge that Palicte might have over Nietes is his age and activity. Nietes fought once in 2018, once in 2017, and twice in 2017. Palicte has fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016.
Palicte has defeated the likes of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, John Apolinario, Oscar Cantu, and Vergilio Silvano. His losses were to Junior Granados and Romnick Magos.
Palicte size and age advantage should help close the gap in skill that exists between him and Nietes, but it likely won’t be enough to help him win the fight.
Juan Francisco Estrada (36-3) vs. Felipe Orucuta (36-4); WBC Junior Bantamweight Eliminator
When we last saw Estrada in the ring, he lost a close bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The fight was close enough for Estrada to remain in title contention.
Estrada is still in the middle of his athletic prime at 28 years old, and will be facing an opponent that is four years older than him. However, Orucuta will have about a three inch height advantage and about a two and a half reach advantage.
Both boxers are from Mexico, but Estrada has had the better amateur career. Estrada boasts an alleged record of 94-4 as an amateur.
Estrada has been fairly active the past three years. He already fought once in 2018, fought twice in 2017, and only fought once in 2016. Orucuta fought once in 2018, twice in 2017, and twice in 2016.
On paper it appears Orucuta is the harder puncher. Estrada only has twenty five stoppage victories while Orucuta has thirty.
However, Estrada has clearly faced the better opposition. He has defeated the likes of Carlos Cuadras, Anuar Salas, Hernan Marquez, Rommel Asenjo, Giovani Segura, Milan Melindo, Brian Viloria. His losses were to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Roman Gonzalez, and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr.
Orucuta hasn’t really defeated anybody of note. His best wins so far were against Edgar Jimenez, Juan Jimenez, and Javier Gallo. His losses were to Omar Andres Narvaez, twice in title fights, Jose Cayetano, and Daniel Rosas.
Like to co-main event of the night, the size difference could be a factor. But Estrada is an elite level talent while Orucuta is not.
HBO Boxing After Dark Preview: Rungvisai vs. Estrada, Cuadras vs. Arroyo, Nietes vs. Reveco
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night, Superfly 2 will take place at the Forum in Inglewood, California and will feature several of the best super flyweight boxers in the division today.
The first Superfly card featured a stunning upset by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai over longtime pound for pound kingpin Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and the super flyweight division features some of the best pound for pound boxers today.
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Account
The undercard will feature a WBA Flyweight title fight between Brian Viloria and Artem Dalakian. The winner of that bout could be a future opponent for any of the main card fighters.
The following is a preview of all three televised fights.
Donnie Nietes (40-1-4) vs. Juan Carlos Reveco (39-3); IBF Flyweight Title
The opening bout of the night will be a title fight between Filipino Donnie Nietes and Argentinean Juan Carlos Reveco.
Nietes has been a world champion since 2008 and first held a title in the minimum weight division. The problem with Nietes is that he has fought mainly in the Philippines and has not faced significant opposition, despite the fact he has had a long title reign.
Nietes is already thirty five years old and his opponent is thirty four years old. Both boxers are considered by most to be near the end of their prime. Reveco is giving up about an inch in height and about two inches in reach to Nietes.
Nietes is not known for his power. He has stopped twenty two of his opponents, and he only has one stoppage victory in his past five fights. Reveco has nineteen stoppage victories, and zero stoppage victories in his past five fights.
Reveco has been to Japan to compete in world title fights, but mainly fights in Argentina. He has fought twice in 2017 and once in 2016. Nietes only fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016.
Nietes has been a world champion since 2008 and has defeated the likes of Edgar Sosa, Raul Garcia, Moises Fuentes, and Gilberto Medina. Most of his opponents would be relatively unknown to most American boxing fans.
Reveco’s resume is also lacking that big win to tout. He has defeated the likes of Felix Alvarado, Karim Guerfi, and Masayuki Kuroda. He held the WBA World Flyweight Title for about two years. His losses were to Kazuto Ioka twice and a loss early on in his career to Brahim Asloum.
Nietes does have some fanfare in the Philippines but at the age of thirty five it’s unlikely he’ll ever catch the same kind of popularity and fanfare of Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao. Nietes has the talent to pull off the victory on Saturday, but it’s likely his next fight will be against another competitor on Saturday’s card that will be highly favored over him.
Carlos Cuadras (36-2-1) vs. McWilliams Arroyo (16-3); Junior Bantamweights
This is the only bout of the night that is not an official title bout. But Carlos Cuadras is one of the best contenders in the super flyweight/junior bantamweight division.
Arroyo is thirty two and is three years older than Cuadras. They both are the same height, but Cuadras will have about a two inch reach advantage on Arroyo.
Both Cuadras and Arroyo had success in the amateur level, but only Arroyo represented his country in the Olympics. Arroyo represented Puerto Rico at the 2008 Olympics and won gold at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships.
Cuadras fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016. He has twenty seven knockouts on his resume but only has one stoppage win in his past five fights. Arroyo fought zero times in 2017, once in 2016, and once in 2015. He has three stoppage wins in his past five fights.
Arroyo’s inactivity is of concern. He has lost two of his past three fights. His losses so far in his career were to Roman Gonzalez and Amnat Ruenroeng. He also lost early on in his career to Takashi Okada. Arroyo does not have a lot of big victories on his resume. He defeated the likes of Ronald Ramos, Miguel Tamayo, and Foilan Saludar.
Cuadras has been very active and fought two very close decision losses to Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez. He has victories over David Carmona, Luis Concepcion, Wisaksil Wangek, and Victor Zaleta.
Wisaksil Wangek is also known as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the man who fights on Saturday’s main event and the man who recently beat Roman Gonzalez.
Arroyo’s inactivity and losses in recent fights are big negatives that are hard to ignore. Cuadras should be able to walk out the victor.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1) vs. Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2); WBC Junior Bantamweight Title
Rungvisai became a well known name in the boxing community when he won a stunning majority decision over Roman Gonzalez in March of last year and then followed it up with a career defining knockout over Gonzalez in their rematch.
While his power and conditioning cannot be denied, he still has readily apparent weaknesses that technical boxers should be able to exploit.
Rungvisai, a southpaw, is four years older than Estrada. Rungvisai will also be giving up about an inch in height and about two and a half inches in reach.
Rungvisai fought twice in 2017 and five times in 2016. In activity will not be an issue for him. Three of the past five fighters he faced were making their professional debut at the time. Estrada fought twice in 2017 and once in 2016.
Rungvisai notable victories were his two over Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez. He had no other notable victories prior his fights with Chocolatito. Three of his losses were early on in his career to Akira Yaegashi, Yushin Yafuso, and Kenji Oba in Japan. His only other loss was to the co-main event participant Carlos Cuadras.
Estrada’s only losses were to Roman Gonzlaez in 2012 and to Juan Carlos Sanchez in 2011. He has defeated the likes of Brian Viloria, Milan Melindo, Giovani Segura, Hernan Marquez, and Anuar Salas.
Rungvisai was able to win HBO’s Fighter of the Year in 2017, but he’s facing another talented opponent on Saturday in which he’s expected to be the underdog.
Rungvisai has shown he can hang with some of the sport’s best, but he’ll need to be fighting at his best in order to pull off another upset on Saturday.
Super Fly 2 Is Highlight of HBO’s Thin Schedule
By: Bryant Romero
The Super Fly 2 card which takes places this Saturday at the Forum in Inglewood, California is so far the highlight of HBO’s so far thin schedule. The card will feature 2 world title fights and a matchup between top contenders in the super flyweight division as part of a triple header on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs) is the main event headliner as he will put his WBC super flyweight strap on the line against former two-belt flyweight champ Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) in a mandatory title defense.
The main event is a can’t miss fight between two top operators in the Super Flyweight division that is not a foregone conclusion on who will win, which has been norm so far in the HBO boxing 2018 schedule. The fans are genuinely interested and looking forward to the event as once again people from across the country and all over the globe will be flying in for this show.
It’s ironic that a card featuring some of the smallest fighters in the world is the can’t miss event of the year so far on HBO. There was a time when the network hardly ever showcased fighters south of 118 pounds. But former pound-for-pound King Roman Gonzalez paved the way for the smaller fighters to showcase their skills on a premium network in the U.S. And with the success of the previous Super Fly card at the Stubhub Center that also featured quality matchups, promoter Tom Loeffler has no doubt that Super Fly 2 will leave a greater mark on TV, which will mean even more cards in the future featuring the smaller weight classes on HBO’s airwaves.
The times though have certainly changed as HBO boxing is no longer the 800 pound gorilla in the industry and now no longer considered as the best premium platform to watch boxing. Showtime has been giving them a run for their money over the past year and it remains to be seen if HBO can continue to produce quality matchups on a more consistent basis on their flagship network and not matchups that the public will have to pay extra on PPV.
Also on the Super Fly 2 card, three-weight champion Donnie Nietes (40-1-4, 22 KOs) will be opening the “Boxing After Dark” telecast when he defends his IBF flyweight title against mandatory challenger Juan Carlos Reveco (39-3, 19 KOs) and the middle bout will feature the return of former champion Carlos Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs) in a crossroads bout with the hard hitting McWilliams Arroyo (16-3, 14 KOs) in a ten round bout.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Seldin, Usyk, Briedis, Estrada, Shields, Rungvisai, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 5th to December 12th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Star Boxing/Nick Sideris
Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin Returns to HBO in Back to Back Months Usyk-Briedis Semi-Final Tickets for WBSS on Sale
Tickets for the Ali Trophy semi-final bout in the cruiserweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series between WBO World Champion Aleksandr Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) and WBC World Champion Mairis Briedis (23-0, 18 KOs) are on sale now via bilesuserviss.lv with prices starting at €50.
This biggest Cruiserweight unification fight for several years, takes place at the Arena Riga in Latvia on 27 January 2018.
Ukrainian Usyk has promised a night to remember for boxing fans at the arena and around the world: “Fans at the arena and in front of their TV’s can look forward to a beautiful and interesting battle between two world champions.”
Said Briedis: “I can’t wait to hear the noise of the devoted Latvian fans again. I will prepare myself over the next weeks to give them a show against Usyk.”
Tickets for Usyk vs Briedis start at €50 and are on sale now via bilesuserviss.lv
Women’s Boxing Superstar Claressa Shields to Hold Public Media Workout
WBC and IBF Super middleweight World Champion Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) to defend titles against former world champion and undefeated mandatory challenger Tori Nelson (17-0-3, 2 KOs) on Friday, January 12, in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation live at 10 p.m. ET/PT from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY; Presented by Salita Promotions
Shields, her trainers, and Salita Promotions’ founder, Dmitriy Salita, will be available for photographs and interviews.
Tuesday, December 12 – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
12:00 p.m. ET – Media Arrival
12:15 p.m. ET – Workout Begins
Kronk Boxing Community Center
9520 Mettetal St,
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada Set for February 24th Live on HBO
Following the overwhelming success from the first SUPERFLY event this past September, Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions in association with Nakornluong Promotions and Zanfer Promotions is proud to announce the highly anticipated second installment, SUPERFLY 2, set for Saturday, February 24 at the Forum in Los Angeles, CA televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.
SUPERFLY 2 will be headlined by WBC Super Flyweight World Champion SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI, (44-4-1, 40 KO’s), of Si Sa Ket, Thailand, defending his title over 12-rounds for the second time against former world champion and #1 ranked mandatory challenger JUAN FRANCISCO “El Gallo” ESTRADA, (36-2, 25 KO’s), of Sonora, Mexico.
Advance tickets for SUPERFLY 2, priced at $250, $150, $100, $60 and $30 will go On-Sale Tuesday, December 12 at 12:00 p.m. PT and can be purchased through Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster.com, 1-800-745-3000) and the Forum Box Office. The Forum is located at 3900 W. Manchester Blvd, Inglewood CA 90305.
“It’s very exciting to announce the main event for the second installment of our SUPERFLY series. With the tremendous response from fans and media from our first event and overwhelming anticipation to our second, we join boxing fans in saying that we ‘can’t wait’ until February 24 at the Forum,” said Loeffler.
“Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had a remarkable year in 2017 upsetting ‘Chocolatito’ by controversial decision on March 18, 2017 at Madison Square Garden for the WBC Super Flyweight Title and decisively defeating him again in his first defense on September 9 at the Stubhub Center at our first SUPERFLY event.”
“Juan Francisco Estrada won a terrific fight against Carlos Cuadras on September 9 at the Stubhub Center and is very anxious to challenge for a world title in the super flyweight division against Sor Rungvisai.”
“The Forum has played host to many nights of memorable battles for more than 40 years and we expect this event to be another chapter in the annals of this iconic venue.”
Said Fernando Beltran, President of Zanfer Promotions, “On February 24 our talented and pride of Mexico, Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada will show that he is the best flyweight in the world by beating the WBC Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in another great night at SUPERFLY 2.”
“HBO has given us a great opportunity to showcase the smaller divisions and the fans will be very happy to see it. If SUPERFLY 1 was a great night of quality boxing and action, I am sure that SUPERFLY 2 will surpass it.”
Mauricio Sulaiman of the World Boxing Council stated, “SUPERFLY 2 must be celebrated as it will bring excitement to boxing fans and it marks the return of real boxing promotion as this concept has found great interest around the world. It is great to see that the smaller weight divisions receive this type of opportunities to shine on the biggest stage of the world for boxing. The WBC fully supports SUPERFLY 2 and looks forward to this spectacular night of boxing.”
Said Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, “The super flyweight division is the deepest division in the world at the moment. I have great respect to Tom Loeffler and HBO for making SUPERFLY so successful, and SUPERFLY 2 will continue to deliver. We have so many great fighters in the super flyweight division, and it is exciting for me because there are many world class opponents that can make terrific fights.”
“Juan Francisco Estrada is definitely among the top-class fighters in our division. When someone is a former unified champion that moved up without losing his titles, you know he is a world class fighter in his prime. However, I am confident that I will be successful in this fight because I will be at my best on fight night again. We will give the fans an incredible fight and I plan on another impressive win.”
“I would like to invite all Thais in the United States, especially those in Los Angeles to attend my fight at the Forum on February 24. Together our Thai hearts will beat and our Thai blood will be pumped with pride and excitement. Let’s show the world our Thai power together on that day!”
Said Estrada, “I am very excited about facing Sor Rungvisai for the WBC Super Flyweight World Title on February 24 at the Forum. He will be a difficult challenge as he defeated Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez twice in a row with a vicious KO in their last fight. Sor Rungvisai is a very tough and skilled boxer so I will have to prepare very well to be ready to challenge him for his belt.”
The 30-year-old Sor Rungvisai made his United States debut on March 18 shocking the boxing world with a 12-round majority decision over then undefeated and consensus #1 pound-for-pound fighter Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden. Dropping Gonzalez in the first stanza, Sor Rungvisai would capture the WBC Super Flyweight World Title in a hotly contested battle that had the massive crowd on their feet throughout.
Rematching Gonzalez on September 9 at The Stubhub Center, Sor Rungvisai would drop the four-division world champion twice in the fourth round, the second resulting in Sor Rungvisai being awarded the knockout stoppage erasing any controversy from the first fight.
Sor Rungvisai also previously held the WBC Super Flyweight World Title defending it once before losing the title to Carlos Cuadras on a technical decision on May 31, 2014. Sor Rungvisai had won the title in his hometown of Si Sa Ket, Thailand on May 3, 2013 by knocking out champion Yota Sato in the eighth round.
Known for his true ‘Mexican Style’ of fighting, Juan Francisco Estrada has remained one of the most popular fighters in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions throughout his nine-year professional career.
The 27-year-old Estrada won the WBC and WBA Flyweight World Titles on April 6, 2013 with a 12-round decision victory over Brian Viloria in Macau, China. Estrada defended both titles six times before moving up to the super flyweight division.
At the inaugural Superfly event on September 9, Estrada fought brilliantly in winning a 12-round unanimous decision over former WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Carlos Cuadras at the Stubhub Center.
Estrada has not lost a fight in over six years. On November 17, 2012, he challenged then WBC Flyweight World Champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, losing a very close, 12-round decision at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Champs Celebrate the Holidays with our US Veterans
This past Tuesday, WBC Cares gathered together with local Champions and fighters from the Los Angeles community to fulfill a promise WBC made to the Veterans Home in Barstow earlier this year, to come spend a Holiday Lunch with our U.S. Veterans, our Heroes. Due to the California Wildfires, a few couldn’t make it because of road closures, but we still had great attendance from Champions and WBC Cares Ambassadors, like Golden Boy’s NABF Featherweight Champion, Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr., WBA World Super Bantamweight Champion Daniel Roman, Former World Champion Paul Banke, Former World Championship Contenders Ruben Castillo and Mando Muniz, Professional fighter and Officer for L.A.P.D., Juan Bustamente, Cutman Sergio Estrada and lastly the WBC Los Angeles team, Pepe & Cecy Sulaiman, Nancy Rodriguez & kids.
President Mauricio Sulaiman, and WBC Cares Chairperson Jill Diamond wanted to make sure our heroes received a special gift, the WBC presented all Veterans with an official WBC patch personalized with “CAL VETERANS” as well as a special plaque for the Veterans Home presented by Pepe Sulaiman to the Home administrator.
The visit started with our WBC Cares Ambassadors Daniel Roman, Joseph Diaz Jr. Juan Bustamante, Marissa Rodriguez and Ruben Castillo helping serve the veterans and staff a special Holiday Lunch. the Vets had a great time laughing through the line with Ruben Castillo’s jokes and great smiles behind the kitchen line, while the rest of the WBC Family Paul Banke, Sergio Estrada, Mando Muniz ate in the cafeteria with the Vets and had great conversations. After the lunch, WBC presented special gifts to all the Vets who answered Boxing questions, some were present as fans for the Ali vs. Frazier fight! Great stories to hear! Pepe Sulaiman then presented the Home with a Plaque in appreciation for all they do for our heroes, the kids and Ambassadors passed out patches as well as a special WBC cake for all present. The visit ended with many photos and autographs for the Veterans and many smiles.
Barstow is over a two hour drive from Los Angeles, the WBC is very grateful to our ambassadors for taking the time to make the drive out to Barstow and helping bring beautiful smiles to our heroes faces this Holiday season.
HBO Boxing After Dark Results: Rungvisai Stunningly Knocks Out Chocolatito, Estrada and Inoue Win Convincingly
By: William Holmes
The Stub Hub Center in Carson, California was the host site for tonight’s HBO Boxing After Dark telecast
The super flyweight division was featured as two world titles were on the line and one world title eliminator fight was shown.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/K2 Promotions
The opening bout was between Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2) and Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1) in an eliminator bout for the WBC Junior Bantamweight Title.
Both Estrada and Cuadras have previously lost to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and were fighting for a chance to have another crack at him.
Cuadras came out firing to start the first round and was able to land jabs and combinations to the body and head. Estrada was throwing punches of his own, but wasn’t landing at the rate of Cuadras. Cuadras ended the first round with a hard right cross.
Cuadras activity continued into the second round as he was throwing more combinations than the stalking Estrada. Cuadras was showing a good variety of punches in the third round, but Estrada ended the round strong with a hard-left hook to the chin.
Cuadras continued to outland Estrada in the fourth and fifth rounds while showboating at times, but Estrada was continuing to come forward and land some hard shots of his own.
Estrada picked up his pace in the sixth round and looked like he hurt Cuadras with a combination ending right cross. Estrada’s uppercut was also finding it’s home and the tide of the fight was turning in his favor.
The seventh round went back and forth and featured several heavy exchanges, but Cuadras was showing signs of tiring and his mouth was wide open.
Estrada’s left hook was landing in the eighth round. Cuadras may have stolen the ninth round with a heavy right uppercut that snapped the head of Estrada backwards, his best punch in several rounds.
Estrada sent Cuadras crashing to the mat in the tenth round with clean straight hand. Cuadras was able to get back to his feet and survive the round, but the knockdown solidified Estrada’s path to victory.
Estrada kept up the pressure in the final two rounds of an action-packed bout. At the end of the twelfth round he acted as if he was victorious.
Michael Buffer originally announced the final scores as 114-113 on all three score cards for Carlos Estrada, and Carlos Cuadras celebrated as if he won the fight.
But Buffer corrected himself and the correct score of 114-113 for Juan Francisco Estrada was read.
The next bout of the night was between Naoya “Monster” Inoue (13-0) and Antonio Nieves (17-1-2) for the WBO Junior Bantamweight Title.
Tonight, was Inoue’s American debut.
Inoue showed off his notorious jab in the opening round and was able to mix in a few uppercuts and left hooks. Nieves was able to block a lot of Inoue’s early punches, but wasn’t able to land anything significant in return.
Inoue’s jab was moving Nieves around the end of the ring in the second round and even had Nieves hurt in the final ten seconds of the second, but Inoue thought the ten second warning was the end of the round and laid off a visibly hurt Nieves.
Inoue started to land heavy shots to the body in the third round and it’s intensity and ferocity picked up in the fourth.
Inoue scored a knockdown with a thudding left hook to the body in the fifth round. Nieves was able to get back to his feet but took a large number of hard body shots in the remainder of the round.
Inoue continued his assault in the sixth round and was landing cracking body shots at will. Nieves was not throwing much in return and looked like he was just trying to survive.
Nieves corner stopped the fight before the start of the seventh round. Inoue wins by TKO at the end of the sixth round.
The main event was between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1) and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1) for the WBC Junior Bantamweight Title.
Rungvisai won a shocking upset in a fight of the year candidate in their first meeting.
Rungvisai, a southpaw, looked a lot more confident than the first time they met and came out aggressively and right at Gonzalez.
Rungvisai was able to land his right hands and kept Gonzalez uncomfortable with his pressure.
Rungvisai continued to be the aggressor in the second round but Gonzalez was able to land multi punch combinations even while he was complaining about head butts.
There were several good exchanges in the third round but Rungvisai looked like he was taking the shots of Gonzalez well but landing heavy shots of his own.
Gonzalez came at Rungvisai at the start of the fourth round but Rungvisai was able to land two hooks to the body followed by a right uppercut, and later followed that with a right hook to the chin of Gonzalez that sent him crashing to the mat. He was able to get back to his feet but still in a dazed state and momentarily exchanged with Rungvisai, but another left hook by Rungvisai sent Gonzalez to the mat for the last time.
Rungvisai wins by knockout at 1:18 of the fourth round.
HBO Boxing After Dark Preview: Chocolatito vs. Rungvisai, Inoue vs. Nieves, Cuadras vs. Estrada
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the super flyweight/junior bantamweight division will take center stage on HBO as three fights in the division, which includes two world title fights and a WBC junior bantamweight title eliminator will take place.
Photo Credit: USA Today
The Stub Hub Center in Carson, California will be the host site for Saturday’s HBO Boxing After Dark Card. This card is stacked in the super flyweight division. Additionally, former UFC fighter Nam Phan will compete on the undercard as well as former world title holder Brian Viloria.
The following is a preview of the three planned televised fights on Saturday night.
Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1) vs. Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2); WBC Junior Bantamweight Eliminator
The opening bout of the broadcast will be between Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada, two boxers in the junior bantamweight division that previously faced, and lost to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
Both boxers stand at 5’4” and have a reach of 66”. Cuadras is twenty nine years old and two years older than Estrada. Both boxers have considerable power. Estrada has twenty five stoppage victories on his record while Cuadras has stopped twenty seven of his opponents. Estrada appears to have the edge in power in recent fights however, he has stopped three of his past four opponents while Cuadras only has two stoppage victories in the past five fights.
Cuadras appears to have the slight edge in amateur experience. Estrada claims an amateur record of 94-4, while Cuadras won a gold medal in the International Junior Olympics and won a gold medal in the Pan American Games in 2003.
Estrada only fought once in 2016 and once in 2017, but that can be partly explained by a surgery he had to his right hand. Cuadras fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016.
Cuadras has defeated the likes of David Carmona, Richie Mepranum, Luis Concepcion, and Wisaksil Wangek. Estrada has a slightly better resume as a professional and has defeated the likes of Hernan Marquez, Giovani Segura, Milan Melindo, and Brian Viloria.
This should be an entertaining bout and could go either way, but Estrada is considered by many to be the second best super bantamweight behind Chocolatito and they appear destined to rematch in the near future.
Naoya Inoue (13-0) vs. Antonio Nieves (17-1-2); WBO Junior Bantamweight Title
Naoya Inoue is a world titlist form Japan that is starting to generate a lot of buzz in the boxing community.
He’s a world champion at only twenty four years old and has spent his entire career fighting in Japan. He’ll be six years younger than Nieves on fight night and will also have about a half an inch height advantage. However, he is giving up about an inch in reach.
Inoue also appears to have the power advantage. In thirteen fights he already has evel stoppage victories, including three of his past four fights. Nieves only has nine stoppage wins in twenty professional fights and is coming off of a loss.
Both boxers experienced moderate success as an amateur. Inoue won the gold medal in the 2011 President’s Cup and Nieves was a silver medalist in the 2011 National Golden Gloves.
Inoue has faced good opposition ever since his professional debut. His list of notable wins include Kohei Hono, David Carmona, Omar Narvaez, and Adrian Hernandez. Nieves is coming off of a loss to Nikolai Potapov. His only notable wins were against Oscar Mojica and Stephon Young.
Many expect Inoue to wow the crowd on Saturday night with a dominating victory against Nieves. A win may set up a possible big money fight with Roman Gonzalez, provided Gonzalez also wins his bout on Saturday.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1) vs. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1); WBC Junior Bantamweight Title
This bout is a rematch of their barn burner fight which saw Rungvisai pull off the stunning upset victory over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. Many fans in attendance, and many members of the media, thought Gonzalez did enough to win the fight despite the fact he was knocked down in the first round.
In fact, CompuBox stats showed that Gonzalez had outlanded Rungvisai in ten of the twelve rounds, but still wound up losing the fight.
Gonzalez and Rungvisai are both thirty years old and stand at 5’3”. Gonzalez will have a slight half and inch reach advantage on Rungvisai. Gonzalez has thirty eight stoppage wins on his record, but has only stopped one opponent in his past four fights. Rungvisai has thirty nine stoppage wins to his resume and has stopped nine of his past ten opponents.
However, Rungvisai lacks amateur experience and Gonzalez won the gold medal in the 2004 Central American Championships.
Gonzalez fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016. He has defeated the likes of Carlos Cuadras, Brian Viloria, Edgar Sosa, Akira Yaegashi, and Juan Francisco Estrada.
Rungvisai fought once in 2017 and five times in 2016. However, three of those fights in 2016 were against debuting fighters and most of his wins came against suspect competition. His biggest wins to date were against Jose Salgado and Roman Gonzalez. He has a loss to Carlos Cuadras on his resume, and his other three losses came within the first five fights of his career.
Many felt Gonzalez won their first encounter and many expect him to emerge victorious in their rematch. However, you can not discount the heart that Rungvisai showed in their first fight and he appears to be a boxer with legitimate power in his hands that can end the fight quickly.
This should be another entertaining scrap, but it’s a scrap that Gonzalez is expected to win in a way that will take it out of the hands of the judges.
Super Flyweight Super Card: 2017 Just Keeps on Giving
By: Matt O’Brien
“I think 2016 should go down as one of the worst years in boxing history, maybe the worst.” – Oscar De La Hoya, October 2016.
Photo Credit: HBO Sports
The Golden Boy’s sad assessment of the state of boxing almost a year ago may have been somewhat of an exaggeration, but it’s fair to say 2016 was not exactly a banner year for the sport. Still recovering from the stench of the Mayweather-Pacquiao mega-letdown in 2015 and facing the prospect of being usurped as the world’s No.1 combat sport by a surging UFC, boxing was certainly in need of a serious shot in the arm.
Many of the sport’s detractors, especially the less informed members of the mainstream media as well as some of the staunchest supporters of MMA, were prepared to go even further than De La Hoya and pronounce the imminent demise of the Sweet Science. Writing for the LA Times in September 2016, for example, reporter Dylan Hernandez confidently declared: “Boxing is dead”.
Well, if boxing is dying, it is one hell of a glorious death. 2017 has been an absolute treat, with a raft of superb cards around the world and several of the best and most meaningful fights across the divisions getting made.
January started with a bang as the world’s two best super middleweights, James DeGale and Badou Jack, fought to a draw in their attempted unification fight in New York. Keith Thurman then unified two welterweight belts in March, while April saw 90,000 fans pack out Wembley Stadium for one of the best heavyweight title fights in recent memory. Errol Spence travelled to the UK for another massive stadium showdown with Kell Brook in May, and in June Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev fought to determine pound-for-pound supremacy in a rematch for the WBO/WBA/IBF light-heavyweight championships. Then in August boxing crowned it’s first undisputed champion for 12 years, as Terrence Crawford captured all four major belts at 140lbs.
Of course, most recently the richest fight in history also happened to take place in a boxing ring and saw MMA’s biggest star easily dismantled over 10 rounds. The list of huge boxing fights in 2017 goes on and on, and this weekend the trend continues.
Boxing’s little men do not always receive the attention or the acclaim that fighters higher up the weight classes typically garner, but it’s hard to ignore this stacked super flyweight card. Three quality fights, two of which are for world titles and feature two of the most talented operators in the sport, while the third pitches two exciting former world champions against each other in a battle of top contenders. There is nothing not to like about this event.
Kicking things off, American viewers will be treated to their first look at Japanese sensation Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (13-0), as the WBO 115lbs champion makes the sixth defense of his title on his American debut, versus Antonio Nieves (17-1-2) of Cleveland, Ohio. The young phenom is already a two-weight world champion at just 24 years of age and his fluid, rangy technique and vicious body attack is one of the most pleasing styles to watch in the sport. Expect the Japanese prodigy to do the business and set up a return to American soil against one of the other winners on the main card.
The chief supporting bout is a terrific Mexican civil war between former WBC 115lbs champion Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1) and former WBA/WBO 112lbs champion, Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2). Since losing a closely contested points decision to Roman Gonzalez back in 2012, Estrada is on a nine-fight win streak, including impressive victories over former world champs such as Brian Viloria, Giovani Segura and Hernan Marquez. Meanwhile Cuadras is also on the comeback trail having lost his title to Gonzalez, being defeated over twelve rounds in the Nicaraguan’s 115lbs debut last year.
In what promises to be an exciting, high-skills match-up, the winner will command a spot as the top contender in the division. This one could go either way, but I’m going with the crisp combination punching of Estrada to see him through to a points victory in a tightly fought bout.
Finally, the main event on Saturday sees an immediate rematch of one of the most grueling fights and biggest upsets of the year so far, when the unheralded Thai Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1) claimed a surprising majority decision over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in March. The Nicaraguan four-weight world champion went into that contest with a perfect 46-0 record and was widely regarded as the finest pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Floored in the opening stanza by the naturally bigger challenger, Gonzalez responded well and took firm control of the contest over the middle rounds. The Thai fighter showed incredible guts and resilience to come back into the fight over the second half, though he seemed very fortunate to receive the judges’ verdict – if Gonzalez had won just a single extra point on one of the scorecards, he would have retained his title via majority draw.
In the first fight the two men threw an incredible combined total of 1,953 punches, and the return is likely to be just as bloody and fiercely contested. “Chocolatito” clearly owns the superior skillset of the two, but he is also fighting at a significant disadvantage in weight. The smaller frame and aggressive, counter punching style of Gonzalez also means that he will inevitably spend much of the fight “in the pocket”, with the extra natural strength of the Thai posing real danger. Although I expect the more accurate punching and better defence of the former champ to prevail, as I believe he deserved to last time, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Sor Rungvisai drag Gonzalez into another war of attrition and make it a close call on the official cards once again.
The fun does not end at the sound of the main event’s final bell, however. In fact, almost as exciting as the card itself are the potential follow-up fights that can be made in the wake of Saturday’s results.
Most obviously, assuming that both come through with a “W”, one of the best matches that could be made – not only in the super flyweight division but in the whole of boxing – would be a blockbuster clash between Japanese star Inoue and Nicaraguan legend Gonzalez. As well as crowning a unified and lineal champion at 115lbs, this would also springboard the winner towards the dizzy heights of boxing’s best practitioners, pound-for-pound. A match-up of this quality would easily surpass any to take place in boxing’s lower weight classes since Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzalez became the first little men to headline a PPV card back in 1993, in what turned out to be one of the fights of the decade. It is no exaggeration to say that a potential meeting between “The Monster” Inoue and “Chocolatito” Gonzalez could live up to similar expectations.
Estrada and Cuadras, both in the hunt for a rematch with Gonzalez, could equally provide exciting opposition for Inoue, should a superfight between the aforementioned pair be left to “marinate” a while longer, to use the promotional jargon. Assuming the two Mexicans deliver the kind of drama expected on Saturday, any combination of winner and loser of that fight vs. Gonzalez or Inoue would make for compelling viewing.
Of course, there is also the prospect of either Sor Rungvisai or Nieves – or both – pulling off the upset and throwing a great big spanner in the works. The Thai’s experience and gutsy style make him a tough assignment for anyone, and even coming off a decent losing performance versus Gonzalez he would still present an interesting challenge for Inoue, with a fight between the two South-East Asians no doubt doing great business in Japan. And while Nieves starts as a huge underdog, he comes in without the pressure of being expected to win on his shoulders. The Japanese fighter is boxing away from home for the first time, and while it’s hard to see him losing, Sor Rungvisai’s win over Gonzalez should remind us that no fight is a foregone conclusion.
In short, the possible combinations of intriguing matches emanating from this weekend’s fantastic card are numerous, and the fact that one of boxing’s lowest weight classes is gaining the kind of attention usually reserved for stars in the heavier divisions is a great sign that the sport overall is in very good health.
So, if you know anyone suggesting that boxing is “dying”, you might want to direct them over to HBO this Saturday night – they’ll see that the Sweet Science is alive and kicking. With so many other excellent fights already on the horizon, including the GGG-Canelo megabout and a plethora of mouth-watering match-ups in the World Boxing Super Series, boxing really is booming.