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.
Our favourite division right now is the 112lb Flyweight division. It's a division that has absolutely everything one could wish for in a division. Top fighters, skilled boxers, power punchers, crude sluggers, depth, notable names and most importantly big match ups which seem to be coming one after another.
The next great bout at 112lbs sees WBO and WBA "super" champion Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18) defending his titles against the under-rated Filipino challenger Richie Mepranum (27-3-1, 6).
The challenger, who enters this bout as the clear under-dog is no stranger to being the over-looked fighter in a bout. He was written off when he moved up a class and faced his first former world title challenger Denkaosan Kaovichit in 2007 and gave the Thai a very tough contest, he was written off when he faced Rocky Fuentes and managed to defeat his Filipino countryman and most notably he was given no chance when he travelled to Mexico and took on and beat a previously unbeaten Hernan "Tyson" Marquez.
Although Mepranum has lost two, somewhat recent contests, both were at the top level and included a decision loss to Marquez and a stoppage loss to Julio Cesar Miranda, he has certainly proven he belongs in and around the world level.
At his best the Filipino is a tricky fighter who comes to fight and although he lacks power he makes up for it in volume and out put. His jab is sharp and quick, he follows up his connects with combinations and is tricky to pin down with intelligent movement. He can have his shots bounce off an opponent but he's slippery enough to make opponents look silly as he tags them then moves.
In Estrada we have a man who seemed to come out of no where back in November 2012 when he traded blows with sensational Nicaraguan Roman Gonalez. Although Estrada lost that night he has been on a tremendous rise ever since and has beaten both Brian Viloria, to win the titles, and Milan Melindo to defend them.
Big, strong, tough, heavy handed and with the ability to either fight or box Estrada looks likely to be a handful for anyone at 112lbs and further down the line at 115lbs if not as far as 118lbs. At just 24 years old Estrada is a boxing baby though fights like a season veteran and looks almost certain to become one of the next Mexican stars, at least in the lower weights.
With a glowing reputation Estrada really does seem like a huge favourite to successfully defend his belts against Mepranum in a fight that, if he's on form, he really can win any way he wishes. If an on form Estrada wants to box the odds are he'll do enough to take a decision, if he'd rather drag the Filipino into a war there would only be one man winning that.
Although Estrada is clearly the favourite we do expect him to be given a genuine test here. Mepranum is skilled enough and experienced enough to give most Flyweights fits and although he perhaps lacks the firepower to be a champion he is almost certainly going to be a top contender for the next few years.
We'd expect Mepranum to make Estrada look bad times but we can't see the Mexican losing to the Filipino, especially not here as fights in Puerto Penasco, the birth place of Estrada. He may not manage to take the belt but he will certainly not just roll over and take a loss without putting up a fight first.
We'd love to see the winner of this bout face the winner of the up coming contest between Akira Yaegashi and Roman Gonzalez. That would be a bout that would really give order to the division and clearly define the #1 and #2 at Flyweight. Thankfully with all of the top fighters showing a willingness to face other we wouldn't be shocked to see a division super either at the end of this year or the start of next year.
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.