One of three stand out Flyweights was in action this past weekend and that was Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada (26-2, 19) the reigning WBO and WBA "super" champion at 112lbs. Estrada, who alongside Akira Yaegashi and Roman Gonzalez, has shown a willingness to fight anyone anywhere.
This time Estrada was returning home, to Puerto Penasco, after back to back fights in Macau. It was his first fight home since 2012 and he put on a show as the over-matched Filipino challenger Richie Mepranum (27-4-1, 6) fell short in his second world title bout.
Mepanum, who went in to the bout with plenty of confidence, knew he was in with a very good opponent. By the end of the second round Mepranum was beginning to to learn just how good Estrada was. The champion, almost immediately, found a home for his body shots and let rip with them landing some vicious ones throughout round 2. It seemed like it was the sort of attack that could finish an attack at any time and it seemed that even Estrada knew the crowd didn't want a finish that early.
If the second round had been painful for Mepranum then round 3 was just embarrassing as the champion offered his chin and cruised through the first 2 minutes before launching a scathing burst of offensive work that stole him the round. It was obvious that Estrada was too strong, too skilled, too tough and just too damned good for the Filipino challenger.
The challengers best moments of success came in round 4 as he managed to get Estrada on the ropes and went to work. Unfortunately for Mepranum his lack of power saw him struggling to to really hurt the champion. With both men finding their groove going into round 5 it appeared that we may have a fight and both started to exchange shots as the crowd began to raise their noise level. A slip from Estrada almost saw the champion going down but he quickly recovered before going back to work and dominating the remainder of the round. Although Mepranum smiled at the bell and raised his arms he was convincing no one, he was getting beat up by the end of the round.
In round 6 it was clear the body shots were taking their toll on the challenger and the two men spent long swathes of the round stood toe-to-toe in a battle of machismo. Unfortunately for Mepranum he was was on the receiving end of much of the punishment and although he was able to see out the round it was obvious that he was being ground down by the lovely offensive work of the champion. It seemed that every time Mepranum landed something he got paid back with interest and through out rounds 7 and 8 that really was taking it's toll on the challenger.
The toll continued through round 9 and it was clear that Mepranum was starting to get beaten up a little bit. He wasn't being destroyed but he had no way to win. He was 9 rounds down, he was getting tagged a lot, couldn't make Estrada back up or respect him and in the end he knew he was just going to take extra punishment for no gain. Instead he took the smart decision and retired on his stool before congratulating the very talented champion who just too much of everything for him.
For Mepranum this is a second failure in a world title bout whilst for Estrada this was a second successful defence with both coming against Filipino's. It's fair to say that Estrada will be keeping an eye on the upcoming IBF title fight between Amant Ruenroeng and Kazuto Ioka and will also be showing an interest in the winner of the up coming contest between Yaegashi and Roman Gonzalez, tentatively rumoured for September.
(Photo courtesy of Rafael Soto Zanfer)