With a number of big bouts this coming weekend it can be easy to over-look several of the lower profile contests. One of those lower profile bouts is a WBC Super Flyweight title contest which sees Filipino challenger Richie Mepranum (31-4-1, 8) face off against unbeaten champion Carlos Cuadras (34-0-1, 26).
For the Filipino Southpaw this will be his third shot at a major world title, having coming up short against Julio Cesar Miranda in 2010 and Juan Francisco Estrada in 2014 with both of those men stopping Mepranum. For Cuadras however the bout will be his 6th defense of the WBC world title that he won in May 2014. Notably the winner will be mandated to face Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Of the two men it's Cuadras who is the better known fighter, and the much more distinguished. He won the title in May 2014, claiming a technical decision over Srisaket, and has since added notable wins against Luis Concepcion and Koki Eto. At his best he's a talented boxer-puncher, though has shown flaws such as questionable stamina in the later rounds and a willingness to be very negative against threatening opponents.
Whilst Cuadras's reign has seen him stay active, with 3 defenses last year, his competition has been very questionable at times, with defenses against Marvin Mabait and Dixon Flores being poor to say the least. It seems likely, sadly, that Mepranum will also be viewed as a weak defense given the depth currently at 115lbs.
Cuadras can bang, can box, can brawl and can counter punch making him a very versatile fighter. It's that versatility that is both a blessing and a curse with Cuadras able to adapt to opponents but some times looking like a fighter who is unsure what he is. If he could decide on what he was in the ring we dare say he'd be a better fighter.
For Mepranum the Filipino will likely know this could be his last chance at a world title, despite only being 28. He will also know he's the under-dog, however he's a man who has shown that the under-dog tag isn't a problem, with wins over Rocky Fuentes and Hernan Marquez. In the ring he's a boxer, and does clearly lack power, though knows his way around the ring and is tough, with his only stoppages being in his two world title fights.
Coming in to this one Mepranum, will know that he has to not only win rounds, but win them clearly. Sadly he lacks the power to really make an impact on the Mexican so will need to box at a high tempo and take risks, two things that will open up opportunities for Cuadras to land power shots.
Although we suspect that Mepranum will give a good account of himself we can't see him beating Cuadras, instead we see the Mexican forcing a stoppage in the middle rounds, with the power and natural size of Cuadras being too much for the game Mepranum.
Historically the lower weights have been criminally ignored by fight fans who have often made excuses to ignore the divisions and the specific fighters. Thankfully in the last year or two we have seen a shift with Western fight fans finally waking up to the “smaller guys” thanks to the likes of Naoya Inoue and Roman Gonzalez.
Those fight fans have something to look forward to on November 28th when we get the chance to see another of the exciting little men in action. This time it's the turn of Japan's all-action Koki Eto (17-3-1, 13) who will be challenging WBC Super Flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras (33-0-1, 26) in what looks like a sure fire war.
Of the two men it's Cuadras who is the more established. He's a former amateur star in Mexico who has climbed through the professional ranks over the last 7 years. Not only has the champion climbed through the ranks but he's gone on to reach the pinnacle of the sport claiming the WBC title last year, with a technical decision win over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Since winning the title he has since defended it 4 times in just under 18 months.
On his rise through the ranks there was plenty of excitement about Cuadras who 29-0 (24) going into his bout with Srisaket and showed that he could box, bang or brawl. Sadly since winning the title he has failed to really shine and what like a FOTY contender on paper against Srisaket became a frustrating fight to watch with Cuadras fighting scared. Whilst he has defended his title 4 times, the competition hasn't been great and his stand out win as champion was another dull affair with Luis Concepcion, a man who has seemingly been made for great fights.
As mentioned Cuadras is a bit of an all rounder. He can punch, he can fight and he can box. Sadly though can also make for dull fights using his feet a bit too much and not letting his hands go as much as he should when he faces a top quality opponent.
Whilst technically the away fight for this bout, which takes place in Tokyo, Cuadras is the “promoter's boy” have long been associated with Teiken Promotions, who will be the lead promoter for the show. It will also be the Mexican's 6th bout in Japan, where he is currently 5-0 (5), though against very poor opposition.
Whilst Cuadras is the more accomplished it's fair to say that Eto is the more exciting, in fact we've often dubbed him the “One Man Highlight Reel” or the “Human Highlight Reel” due to the way he fights and some of his previous contests. Those bouts have included 3 FOTY contenders in the last few years with the most notable being his decision win over Kompayak Porpramook in 2013, a win that saw Eto claim the WBA Interim Flyweight title. Other have included his 12th TKO loss to Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and an incredible 8th round KO win against Ardin Diale in an OPBF title fight, a fight that saw Eto snatch victory from the claws of defeat.
In the ring Eto is massively flawed. The idea of defense often seems to offend the Okinawa man who has never been one for looking after his health when he goes into a fight, however his offense has made him a must watch fighter. His offense is full of energy, consists of very high output and very unorthodox. Whilst he's not a technically correct puncher his heart and wildness make him a real handful.
As an out and out brawler Eto is so much fun to watch. As a boxer however he's very limited and seems to lack a plan B or C. That may be an issue against Cuadras and it could well be that wee see the gutsy Eto try and try to bring out the brawler in Cuadras, however if he fails to get Cuadras into a war then he'll almost certainly have a frustrating day.
Notably for Eto this bout is at 115lbs, not the 112lbs where he has made his name. It will be only his third bout above the 112lb limit and will see him going up in weight. Interestingly however he is a very gangly fighter, and stands at about 5'8”, and is likely to boast natural height and reach over Cuadras. If he can take advantage of that then there is a huge chance that he could be the one frustrating his foe and could well find a way to keep Cuadras at range. If he can do that then things really could be interesting.
Given what we know of the two men, it's hard to see Eto winning, however we do expect the Japanese fighter to give his all and give Cuadras some real questions.
Excitingly not only do we have the bout, but we know that the winner will be forced to make a mandatory defense next year against Srisaket with the Thai's team expected to make a huge bid to get the fight in Thailand.
Just over 2 weeks ago we wrote, but didn't publish, a preview for what we had expected would be a WBC Super Flyweight title bout between the unbeaten Carlos Cuadras (30-0-1, 24), the reigning world champion, and Filipino Cinderella man Sonny Boy Jaro (37-13-5, 27). Since we did that previous however Jaro has been changed out for fellow Filipino Marvin Mabait (19-2-2, 13) in what, on paper, looks a more interesting bout.
The unbeaten Cuadras is a Teiken promoted fighter who won his world title earlier this year with a technical decision victory over Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Not only did he win the title with a technical decision but he also made his first defense with one, scoring a technical draw with Jose Salgado back in September.
In terms of ability Cuadras is a fighter who appears able to do it all. Early in his career he showed a propensity for fighting off the front foot and finishing off his opponents early on. This saw him ending his first 13 bouts early with an incredibly 7 opening round wins and 11 wins inside 2 rounds. As he's stepped up in class however he's shown other dimensions to his game and against Srisaket in his title winning performance he showed he can box excellently on the back foot using movement, speed and timing. When he does box and move he looks really talented though we do wonder if he can do it for 12 rounds and he did seem to be tiring in the second half against Srisaket, prior to the fight ending cut.
It's fair to say Cuadras appears to have real boxing talent and the 26 year old did show that talent in the amateur ranks where he was a bit of amateur star competing in various international competitions, including the 2007 Pan Am games where he won he gold medal. With that in mind it's clear he can box when he needs to and he can certainly fight when he needs to. The combination of boxing and fighting makes Cuadras a standout fighter in the division though it is admittedly a thin division with only a handful of notable fighters in it.
In Mabait we have a challenger who has not only taken the fight at late notice but also on the back of a loss, in fact he has lost 2 of his last 5 bouts by stoppage. Sadly for Mabait those losses haven't been particularly flattering with the first coming to Marco Demecillo in April 2012, when he was stopped in the 3rd round, whilst the other came this past March to Alejandro Hernandez, when he was stopped in the 5th round. With clear question marks about his chin it wouldn't seem out of the question to see Cuadras jump on him early and try and close the show inside 4 or 5 rounds.
Having said that we do need to accept that Mabait himself has got talent, speed and most notably power. He's a fighter who should make for good fights one way or another with anyone in the division and in his bout with Demecillo he did drop his fellow Filipino in the opening round, he also stopped Johnny Garcia in a round in his first fight outside of the Philippines. In fact it's the power of the "Chavacano Disaster" that makes him an interesting opponent for most in the division and, fighting from the southpaw stance, his power shots all seem to be from his left hand with his jab being somewhat limited.
Aside from/aside from the win over Garcia it's hard to see much that stands out about Mabait's record so far with his next best win being over compatriot Rey Perez almost 4 years ago, and since then Perez has gone 2-2. That's not to say he's not got the potential to beat better fighters it's just that he hasn't beaten better fighters
We suspected that the Jaro fight would have seen Cuadras using his movement to keep Jaro off balance before stepping in for a quick raid and getting away. Against Mabait we're expecting a more aggressive gameplan from Cuadras we we suspect may fight at a higher tempo with the intention of stopping the challenger earlier. Against a tough guy like Jaro we think Cuadras would box smart. Against a foe with questionable punch resistance, like Mabait, we would suspect Cuadras will fight with the intention of impressing the fans and blowing through his challenger quickly. We suspect that the only chance Mabait has is landing a lucky shot on the Mexican or catching him cold early on.
(Image courtesy of notifight.com)
There are a lot of great fights this weekend spread all around the world. For us however the most interesting, by a long way, is in Mexico.
We know a lot people reading that will be shocked that we've not gone with the big rematch in the UK between Carl Froch and George Groves, despite some of our team being British, but it's true, the fight of the night will be in Mexico as WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (27-3-1, 25) defends his belt against mandatory challenger Carlos Cuadras (29-0, 24).
On paper the bout is everything to make a boxing fan excited. We have a champion travelling to defend his belt on foreign soil, we have an unbeaten challenger looking to announce himself on the world stage, we have two giant punchers, two men with aggressive styles and two men who fight with little intention of hearing the final bell. In fact from their combined 60 bouts only 8 have gone to the final bell!
For regular readers of this site you will be perfectly aware of what we think of Srisaket. For those that aren't regular visitors we feel that he's he best Super Flyweight on the planet, a destructive ball of energy with dynamite in both hands, a steely determination to win and a vicious mentality based around not only winning but nigh on destroying any opponent who dare steps in to the ring with him.
Srisaket didn't start his career with a series of easy victories, in fact things were the polar opposite for the Thai who debuted against Akira Yaegashi, the current WBC Flyweight champion. Yaegashi over came Srisaket who was a paltry 1-3-1 after just 5 bouts.
Amazingly after the poor start to his career Srisaket knuckled down and improved, drastically. He went from inexperience novice fighting to feed himself to a violent wrecking ball in the ring who stopped 24 of his subsequent 26 opponents including Yota Sato, who Srisaket beat for the title, and Hirofumi Mukai, who has been the only challenger to Srisaket's throne so far.
In Cuadras we have a man who is the opposite to Srisaket in many ways. Cuadras is unbeaten, he was pretty much a touted prospect from the day he turned professional and treat like a fighter who was being groomed for a world title fight. He was a former amateur standout who had won tournaments such as the 2007 Pan Am Games and the 2005 International Junior Olympics and was viewed, from a young age, as a man to keep an eye on especially considering his amateur record was a reported 140-20!
Sadly for Cuadras, who is co-promoted by Japan's Teiken promotions, his amateur pedigree didn't really work as a launch platform and instead he had to slowly building his professional reputation and ranking and over the past 6 years he has been running up long an excellent 29 fight unbeaten record. Unlike Srisaket however he's yet to face a real world class opponent and the best names on Cuadras's record are Ronald Barrera, Fernando Lumacad and Victor Zaleta, all fringe world ranked fighters but a long way from the championship calibre fighters like Sato and Yaegashi.
In the career of both men they have typically found themselves as the aggressive fighter against someone who they can back up. Sure that wasn't the case in Srisaket's first 5 bouts but later on that has become the case. For this bout however they are both strong, power and aggressive fighters who will come forward in an attempt to boss the bout. With that in mind we can only see one thing happening, the two men meeting in centre ring in the opening round and refusing to back down until they either wear themselves out, wear their opponent out or, some how, reach the final bell.
What we're expecting to happen here is what we all love as boxing fans. We don't see much actual "boxing" but instead we are subjected to a 2 man war, a battle of pride, a battle of machismo and a battle of unadulterated violence. It'll be the sort of fight that reminds us what we love about this sport, the reason we follow it and the reason why we, as fans of the smaller weights, can get so excited by fights that so many fans over-look.
With Srisaket knowing he'll need a stoppage to get a win here we expect him to go all out in an attempt to batter Cuadras into submission. Cuadras, with power and skills himself, will fight back and we're hoping for a bout reminiscent of the Takashi Miura/Sergio Thompson contest from last year. If it lives up to that we'll be very happy fans and hopefully, as with Miura back then, the champion will retain in a bout that breaks the fighter from a nationally known fighter to a globally known fighter ad a globally known, must watch warrior.
It's the toughest bout of Srisaket's career since he fought Yaegashi but we still favour him to win here in what would be a genuine break out victory and a true FOTY contender.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.