By William Ridgard
Jesse "Bam “Rodriguez (15-0) makes his first defense of his WBC Super Flyweight Championship against the experienced and dangerous Wisaksil Wangek (50-5-1) (aka Srisaket Sor Rungvisai) , who is famous for beating and KOing P4P king and all-time great in Roman “Choclatitio” Gonzalez (51-3).
This is a brilliant crossroads fight between a hungry young prospect in Jesse Rodriguez and the veteran in Wangek, who is vying to prove he still has the capabilities to become world champion at the age of 35. This is another great fight in a division that just keeps on giving.
The keys to victory for Bam are to use his brilliant footwork and dance around Wangek, landing his key shots via his brilliant pivots which allows him to create angles and land shots. A great example of this was in his last fight against Carlos Cuadras, where he dropped him in the 3rd round via his brilliant footwork which led to him landing a flush uppercut.
The keys to victory for Wangek will be to let Jesse feel his power early and make him hesitant to engage. A weakness in his fight with Cuadras was that Jesse sometimes looked weak to the body, so if he also targets that area, it could make him less likely to engage and could lead to him winning the rounds.
Overall, I believe that Bam will outpoint Wangek in a close fight and will hopefully highlight how good Jesse Rodriguez is. Alternatively, it could be too much too soon for the youngest world champion in boxing, and this could lead to the experience of Wangek prevailing.
In our predictions to begin the year we predicted 2022 was going to be the year of rematches, and after a number of those in January they continue to come this weekend, as we see a highly anticipated, and long over-due, rematch between former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43) and the man who first dethroned him, Carlos Cuadras (39-4-1, 27), with the two looking to reclaim the currently vacant WBC Super Flyweight title. The very title Cuadras took from Srisaket in their first meeting.
In recent years the Super Flyweight division has been getting the respect it deserves, and the fighters are getting the credit and audience it has long been due, but sadly when these two first fought in 2014 things weren't like that, and many missed out on the bout, and the controversy and bad taste that it left. The expectation was that the two men would rematch some time after that bout, but few watching that bout would have expected an almost 8 year wait for the two to go again.
When they first fought Srisaket was an unknown outside of Asia, and was looking to make his second defense of the title which he had won by destroying the under0rated Yota Sato. Cuadras on the other hand was an unbeaten contender, and seen as one of the future stars for Mexican boxing having had a solid amateur career and been co-promoted by Teiken. Interestingly Teiken won the purse bids for that bout and arranged for it to be in Mexico, giving Cuadras the best chance of winning. And win is what he did, when the bout was stopped prematurely, giving Cuadras a technical decision victory, and seemingly bailed him out as Cuadras was starting to come on strong and wear down his man. It seemed the ending was very much a lucky escape for the Mexican fighter, who had looked great boxing and moving in the early rounds, but had burnt a lot of energy with his movement, and was visibly slowing in the rounds prior to the finish. Had the bout not been stopped there's a fair shout that Sriskaet would have either stopped Cuadras, or reeled him in on the scorecards.
Following his title win Cuadras seemed to do what he could to avoid a rematch with the Thai, who became mandatory for the WBC title when he beat Jose Salgado a year later in a final eliminator, but ended up waiting almost 2 years longer for his eventual shot, which came against Cuadras' conqueorer Roman Gonzalez. Despite the long wait he made the most of that bout, taking a questionable decision over Gonzalez, before destroying the Nicaraguan legend in a rematch to put himself firmly on the international stage. Sadly for Srisaket, despite his success against Gonzalez, he has had to wait 8 years now to get his hands back on Cuadras, and neither man has quite looked the same in recent bouts. Despite that this is a bout fans of the division will be looking forward to, and will be expecting real fireworks from. Fireworks we were denied somewhat in their first bout when Cuadras' movement played such a major factor in the action.
Thankfully neither man really needs much of an introduction thanks to the fact both have had numerous big bouts available around the world in recent years. But still it is worth quickly looking over what the two men have done, and what they bring to the ring.
The heavy handed Srisaket is a beat of a fighter with a physically imposing style that combines relentless pressure, physical toughness and strength and freakish punching power. At his best he was a total monster, and someone fighters did their best to ignore. He showed how good he was in his prime against Yota Sato, destroying the talented Japanese fighter who retired soon afterwards. He also showed it when he dismantled Jose Salgado. Sadly though his most notable bouts came when he was perhaps on the slide a little bit, with both of his wins over Roman Gonzalez and his win over Juan Francisco Estrada coming after his 30th birthday. He wasn't shot, not by any means, but he was starting to lose something and that became particularly clear when he faced Hiram Irak Diaz, in 2018 just 18 months after the first Gonzalez fight, and against Amnat Ruenroeng in 2020. It's been a slow regression, hidden by his power, but it has been clear for those following him over the last decade or so.
Cuadras on the other hand is more of a boxer-puncher than Srisaket. He's light on his feet and was a very good amateur boxer who has kept much of those amateur skills in his locker. Prior to facing Srisaket he was seen as more of a puncher who could box, and at the time sported a 29-0 (24) record, but in recent years his power has proven to be less effective at the higher levels, but his boxing skills, shot selection, movement and hand speed have all been great weapons for him. Like Srisaket he is best known for his bouts with Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada and sadly like Srisaket his career is certainly winding down his career. He's currently 33 and has gone 4-4 in his last 8 bouts, suffered his sole stoppage loss last time out, to Estrada, and only narrowly squeaked past Jose Maria Cardenas in 2019, in his last win. He looks to have aged, and whilst he put in a great performance against Estrada last year, he was still stoppage in what looks likely to have been one last hurrah from him.
Given both men are past their best, and are likely coming to the end of their careers, which have both been excellent, it can be hard to judge this one. Sadly for Cuadras however we get the feeling this bout is rather personal in the eyes of Srisaket. He will feel that his loss of the title to Cuadras was wrong, and needing to wait so long to get his hands on the Mexican in a rematch would have just infuriated him more. The Thai will be hungry for revenge and that hunger, we feel, will drive him on. Not just to win, but to win quickly than Estrada did, afterall he's hunting another bout with Estrada himself. We suspect a very fired up Srisaket starts fast, looks to bully Cuadras, who will be slower than he was in their first meeting, and will break him down to the body. The Mexican, has lost some of the speed and movement which kept him out of harm at times in their first bout, and that will be a major issue here against the pressure of Srisaket.
We expect to see Cuadras make a fight of it at times, but will be broken down in the middle rounds and stopped as Srisaket becomes the first ever 3 time WBC Super Flyweight champion.
Prediction - TKO7 Srisaket
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On April 26, at the Forum in Inglewood, California, a much anticipated title bout will take place as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai defends his WBC Super Flyweight World Championship against Juan Francisco Estrada, in a rematch, 14 months in the making.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1), unlike most World champions from Thailand, didn’t have a long and successful Muay Thai career, before breaking into the sport. Life forced him to move to Bangkok, when he was only 13 years old and worked as a trash collector at a department store in order to feed himself. He finally took up pro boxing in 2009 and in just 2 years he was the WBC Asia champion.
In 2013, Sor Rungvisai (with a record of 18-3 at the time) challenged Yota Sato (26-3) for the WBC Super Flyweight World title. Sato, with victories over the likes of Kohei Kono, Suriyan Kaikanha and Ryo Akaho, was the clear favorite to win this fight. The Thai boxer shocked the world when he dominated the champion in every single round, leaving him almost no room for an offense of his own, continuingly punishing him until the referee had to step in and stop the fight in the 8th, crowning Srisaket the new World champion, at the age of 26. Sato had never been stopped prior to this match.
Srisaket made his first defense against Hirofumi Mukai (15-6) in a one sided beatdown. He lost his belt to Carlos Cuadras (37-3) in controversial fashion, after Cuadras suffered a cut over to his left eye from an accidental clash of heads and was awarded the technical decision. In just a few months after that loss, he reclaimed the WBC Asia title and mostly fought journeymen until he squared off 2 time world title contender Jose Salgado (36-5). Sor Rungvisai blasted the Mexican with a couple of strong left punches and one mean right cross in the 4th round to get the TKO win and the WBC Silver championship.
His biggest challenge came on March 18 of 2017, when he fought Roman Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden, for the belt he never truly lost. Chocolatito, 88-0 as an amateur and 46-0 as a pro, had never lost a single match in his entire career. As a 4 division World champion, with notable wins over Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada, Akira Yaegashi, Edgar Sosa, Brian Viloria and Carlos Cuadras, it was no secret that Srisaket was once again the underdog. Much like the Sato bout, the Thai phenom stunned everyone when he scored a knockdown, in the very first round, as he connected with a thunderous uppercut. During the 3rd, Roman suffered a cut on his right eye, which caused massive bleeding as the fight progressed. Both men went back and forth, in an exciting affair that saw them delivering furious exchanges. Gonzalez put on a strong offense, mostly in the later rounds, but Srisaket was dominating the majority of the match. When the last round came, they left it all in the ring, bringing the fans at the Garden on their feet. After the dust had settled, Sor Rungvisai got the decision and reclaimed the WBC Super Flyweight World Title.
The rematch was set in September, at the inaugural Superfly show in California. The fight was a slugfest as champion and challenger went toe to toe, trading bombs with one another for 3 consecutive rounds. However this time, the ending came abruptly, when Srisaket knocked Gonzalez out with a massive right hook in the 4th. This bout, not only marked Chocolatito’s second ever defeat (both at the hands of the same opponent), but also his first (and thus far only) KO loss in 137 outings.
On February of 2018, Sor Rungvisai defended his belt again, this time against the former WBA & WBO Flyweight World champion Juan Francisco Estrada. In what was considered a Fight Of The Year candidate, both men went to war for 12 rounds in the main event of the second Superfly event. Despite trading hard shots with each other, neither fighter went down and instead came back even stronger. It was anyone’s game, as the balance kept shifting in every round. In the end, Srisaket earned the majority decision and left California with the strap once more.
After stopping former WBC Asia and WBO Asia Pacific champion Young Gil Bae (30-7) in less than 3 minutes, the Thai superstar competed at ONE Championship’s “Kingdom Of Heroes”, this past October, making this match his first world title defense in home soil, since 2013. Sor Rungvisai clashed with former WBC Latino champion & top ranked boxer Iran Diaz (15-3) in a record breaking event, which drew 25 million viewers worldwide. Now as part of Matchroom Boxing, Srisaket will collide with one of his best rivals, in Juan Francisco Estrada.
Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3) made his pro debut at 18 years of age, ending a rather impressive amateur run (94 wins and only 4 losses), and went 18-0 prior to his meeting with future IBF Super Flyweight World champion Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. in 2011. “El Gallo” avenged that loss within the same year, as he stopped Sanchez in the very last round of their second encounter.
After unsuccessfully challenging the then undefeated Chocolatito for the WBA Light Flyweight World title (the one and only time he fought at that division), Estrada quickly bounced back, when he defeated Brian Viloria (38-6) to become the unified WBA & WBO Super Flyweight World champion, just 5 months later. Viloria, 230-8 as an amateur & a former AIBA World champion, was on a 6 fight winning streak and hadn’t lost in 3 years. Most of the fight took place inside the pocket, with both warriors throwing hard shots, punishing each other’s head and body. Estrada got the better of these exchanges, which earned him the split decision and the straps.
His first defense was against the WBO International champion & future IBF Light Flyweight World champion Milan Melindo. The Filipino had never lost a fight (at that point) since his debut in 2005, as he entered his first world title match, with a perfect record of 29 wins and zero losses. It was an intense fight that saw Melindo won a few rounds, but with Estrada always being ahead on the judges score cards and kept pressuring more and more as the time went by, even scoring a knockdown in the 11th after landing a right cross and almost finishing Melindo off in the 12th.
Estrada went on to defend his belts 4 more times against top contenders Richie Mepranum (33-7) & Rommel Asenjo (32-7), as well as former World champions Giovani Segura (33-4) & Hernan Marquez (43-10). That last one must be his most dominant performance thus far, as he broke Marquez down with some exceptional body work and proceeded to drop him on 7 different occasions, between rounds 6 and 10, for his 24th stoppage victory.
In 2017, El Gallo decided to move up a weight class and soon fought the former WBC Super Flyweight World champion Carlos Cuadras (37-3) for the right to challenge the winner of Sor Rungvisai vs. Gonzalez II. Volume and precision were the key factors that gave Estrada the edge he needed to beat the former champ and secure a title shot against Srisaket. Since failing to capture the WBC crown, the Mexican has added 2 more victories to his record and will once again be able to fight for that same championship.
It’s hard to predict who’s going to have the advantage here, especially when you consider their 1st match and how close it was. Estrada is slightly taller & younger than his opponent and has the bigger reach. Experience is pretty much even as Srisaket might have more fights under his belt as a pro, but Estrada has a lengthy amateur career. On the other hand, the Thai champion definitely has the power on his side, with 87% of his victories coming via KO/TKO and has also finished many of his past foes with the right hand, despite being a southpaw. Moreover, both love to throw fast and strong combinations and are not afraid to go to war if need be. So what could be the game changer this time around? Well, as we saw in Sor Rungvisai vs. Chocolatito II, it’s obvious that Srisaket had studied him and managed to find a chink in Gonzalez’s armor, which led to the fight being over in just 4 rounds. So the question that comes to mind is that IF history can repeat itself. Could Srisaket have spotted a weakness in Estrada’s gameplan from their previous encounter? Or will Estrada surprise Srisaket with some new tricks? We will find out on April 26.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On October 6, in a historic event for combat sports, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4 / 41 KOs) defends his WBC Super Flyweight World Championship, against Iran Diaz (14-2 / 6 KOs), at ONE “Kingdom Of Heroes”, in Bangkok, Thailand.
Unlike most world champions, Srisaket didn’t have a long and successful amateur career. He had to move to Bangkok, when he was only 13 years old and worked as a trash collector at a department store in order to feed himself. Life was so difficult for him that he sometimes had to eat leftovers that he collected from the garbage, just to survive. He began boxing in 2009 and in just 2 years he won the WBC Asia title, which he defended 4 times.
In 2013, Sor Rungvisai (with a record of 18-3 at the time) challenged Yota Sato (26-2*) for the WBC Super Flyweight World Title. Sato, with victories over the likes of Kohei Kono, Suriyan Kaikanha and Ryo Akaho, was the clear favorite to win this fight. The Thai boxer shocked the world when he dominated the champion in every single round, leaving him almost no room for an offense of his own, continuously punishing him until the referee had to step in and stop the fight in the 8th. Srisaket was crowned the new world champion, at the age of 26. Sato had never been stopped prior to this match.
Srisaket made his first defense against Hirofumi Mukai (9-2*) in what was a one sided beatdown. He lost his belt to Carlos Cuadras (29-0*) in controversial fashion, after Cuadras suffered a cut over to his left eye from an accidental clash of heads and was awarded the technical decision. In just a few months after that loss, he reclaimed the WBC Asia title and mostly fought journeymen until he faced 2 time world title contender Jose Salgado (34-2*). Sor Rungvisai blasted the Mexican with a couple of strong left punches and one mean right cross in the 4th round to get the TKO win and the WBC Silver championship.
His biggest challenge came on March 18 of 2017, when he fought Roman Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden, for the belt he never truly lost. Chocolatito, 88-0 as an amateur and 46-0 as a pro, had never lost a single match in his entire career. As a 4 division world champion, with notable wins over Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada, Akira Yaegashi, Edgar Sosa, Brian Viloria and Carlos Cuadras, it was no secret that Srisaket was once again the underdog. Much like the Sato bout, the Thai phenom stunned everyone when he scored a knockdown, in the very first round, as he connected with a thunderous uppercut. During the 3rd, Roman was cut in his right eye, which caused massive bleeding as the fight progressed. Both men went back and forth, in an exciting affair that saw them delivering furious exchanges. Gonzalez put on a strong offense, mostly in the later rounds, but Srisaket was dominating the majority of the match. When the last round came, they left it all in the ring, bringing the fans at the Garden on their feet. After the dust had settled, Sor Rungvisai got the majority decision and reclaimed the WBC Super Flyweight World Title.
The rematch was set in September, at the initial Superfly show in California. The fight was a slugfest as champion and challenger went toe to toe, trading bombs with one another for 3 consecutive rounds. However this time, the ending came abruptly, when Srisaket knocked Gonzalez out with a massive right hook in the 4th. This bout, not only marked Chocolatito’s second ever defeat (both at the hands of the same opponent), but also his first (and thus far only) KO loss in 136 outings.
In 2018, Sor Rungvisai has defended his belt once against former 2 division world champion Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2*) and has also scored a TKO victory over WBC Asia and WBO Asia Pacific champion Young Gil Bae (28-6*). His next opponent, as well as his third title defense, will be against former WBC Latino champion Iran Diaz, who has broken out to the world scene (#6 by the WBC – August rankings) after defeating 2 former world champions in Hernan Marquez and Luis Concepcion. His only 2 losses are to Juan Hernandez Navarrete (former flyweight world champion) and Nordine Oubaali (accomplished amateur and number 1 contender to the WBC Bantamweight title).
From collecting trash to co-main eventing Madison Square Garden, the story of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is inspiring to say the least. After years of hard work, he returns to Bangkok, this time to defend his world championship at the Impact Arena, which is considered to be the 2nd largest exhibition and convention venue in all of Asia. Both men will look to prove a point. For Diaz, it’s a chance to finally realize his dream of winning the big one. For Srisaket, it’s to come back home and say “I finally made it”.
ONE Championship’s Kingdom Of Heroes will be a groundbreaking event as they aim to bring 3 of the most popular martial arts in the world (boxing, kickboxing & MMA) all in one stage. The rest of the fights are:
Shinya Aoki vs Ev Ting (ONE Lightweight title eliminator)
Leandro Issa vs Muin Gafurov
Hayato Suzuki vs Robin Catalan
Rika Ishige vs Bozhena Antoniyar
Rin Saroth vs Fu Chang Xin
Dodi Mardian vs Ramon Gonzales
Super Series (Kickboxing/Muay Thai):
Kai Ting Chuang vs Stamp Fairtex (ONE Atomweight World Championship)
Andy Souwer vs Anthony Njokuani
Masahide Kudo vs Singtongnoi Por Telakun
Nong-O Gaiyanghadao vs Mehdi Zatout
Alain Ngalani vs Andre Meunier
Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai vs Alaverdi Ramazanov
Petchdam Kaiyanghadao vs Kenny Tse
A few words for some of the key fights:
Shinya Aoki (41-8) is a former Shooto, DREAM & ONE world champion. A judo & jiu jitsu specialist, with 27 submissions on his MMA record, Aoki will take on Ev Ting (16-4) a dangerous striker and skilled grappler. The winner will receive a title shot against 2 division world champion Martin Nguyen (11-3) on March of 2019, at ONE’s debut in Japan.
Kai Ting Chuang (17-5) is a 3 time WAKO National Kickboxing Champion as well as the reigning and defending ONE Kickboxing Atomweight World Champion. She defends her title against Stamp Fairtex (60-15), former North Eastern muay thai champion.
"Update: Martin Nguyen has relinquished his Lightweight title due to an injury."
Andy Souwer (160-20) is one of the most decorated kickboxers on the planet. A 2 time K-1 World Max Champion, 4 time S-Cup World Champion, ISKA & WKA World Champion (and more), Andy will make his ONE debut against Anthony Njokuani (25-1) a Nigerian fighter who has also competed in MMA (UFC & WEC).
Masahide Kudo (17-7), the current RISE Featherweight champion, will face Singtongnoi Por Telakun (220-80) former Lumpinee Stadium Champion, WMC World Champion, S-1 Champion and Rajadamnern Fighter of the Year.
Nong-O Gaiyanghadao (256-54) is considered to be one of the best pound for pound muay thai fighters in the world. He is a 4 time Lumpinee Stadium champion, Rajadamnern Stadium Champion, 2 time Thailand national champion, and 2 time Fighter of the Year. His opponent is former WBC Muay Thai World Champion Mehdi Zatout (41-18).
Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai (156-33) is a 2 time Lumpinee Stadium Champion and WMC World Champion. He competes against Russian fighter Alaverdi Ramazanov (57-3).
If you are a fan of combat sports, this will be a night to remember.
*Fighter’s record prior to the fight mentioned.
The biggest bout this weekend is a potential instant classic as WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40) defends his title against mandatory challenger Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25). For the champion this will be his second defense of his second reign, and gives him a huge chance to solidify himself as a leading fighter in the lower weights. The challenger will be looking to become a 2-weight champion, and will be looking to further establish himself as one of the best current Mexican fighters in the sport. On a more fan based level this will be one of the best aggressive fighters in the sport against one of the truly elite boxers and should be a stylistic pleasure or power, brains and skill.
Last year Srisaket announced himself on to the Western fan base with two wins over Roman Gonalez. To some that was his only real achievement but to others, who had followed his career, those were just more big wins that saw him become a 2-time world champion. Prior to those wins he had amassed a long record in Asia and had scored notable wins over Yota Sato, to claim his first title, and Jose Salgado, to become mandatory for a second title fight. Other than those two wins his only other notable recent bout had been a technical decision loss to Carlos Cuadras, who had looked very worried about the power and aggression of Srisaket.
Unlike many Thai's with padded records Srisaket is a genuine world class fighter. He's teak tough, a huge puncher, a powerful physical specimen, with aggressive footwork, a high work rate and an awkward southpaw stance. For all his strengths he can be outboxed, he's not the quickest, the smoothest or defensively the smartest. He has been shown to eat shots, as he did at times against Gonzalez, though they typically bounce off him and he regularly dwarfs other Super Flyweights. In many ways he's like a smaller, cruder, more powerful Gennady Golovkin and if the Super Flyweight division had a higher profile a few years ago he truly would have been the divisional bogey man, rather than someone feasting on regional journeymen to stay busy.
Whilst Srisaket only really managed to make him name in the West recently the same can't be said of Estrada, who has looked on the verge of breaking out a few times, before something has slowed his ascent. In 2012 he went tooth and nail with Roman Gonzalez, in a true Fight of the Year contender for the WBA Light Flyweight title. That bout was aired on Wealth TV in the US and it seemed like the perfect platform for the lower weight fighters. Despite the loss Estrada's profile was boosted immeasurably and just a few months later he would defeat Brian Viloria in Macau to claim the WBO and WBA “super” titles at Flyweight. Another bout in Macau saw Estrada defeat Milan Melindo and it seemed like he was going to become a staple of the Bob Arum shows in the region. Sadly though he would fight his next 7 bouts in Mexico, spread over the following 3 years. They included wins over Giovani Segura and Hernan Marquez, who had looked shot for a while, along with some limited opposition as hand injuries slowed his rise and kept him out of action for over a year.
Thankfully for Estrada he scored a major win last year as he over-came Carlos Cuadras to earn a shot at the WBC Super Flyweight title. The win over Cuadras showed everything that Estrada is. He's a really intelligent boxer-puncher, he showed ring craft, timing, and understanding of distance that many fighters wish they could have. His jab was on point, his shot selection showed touches of genius and although he started somewhat slowly he came close to finishing off a tired Cuadras late on, dropping his fellow Mexican in round 10. The slow start of Estrada is something we've seen a number of times, as he figures out his opponents and then begins to go to work. It's a cerebral style that he combines with solid speed and power.
Give that Srisaket is a fast starter, looking to force his will from the opening bell and that Estrada is a slow starter, who begins to pick apart opponents as the fight goes on we are expecting a fight that,if it goes to the cards, is going to be very hard to score. We're know that Srisaket will start fast, and during the first 4 or 5 rounds he is going to be incredibly dangerous against his naturally smaller foe. If he can land his power shots during this time there is a chance he could force a stoppage, he could in fairness stop almost anyone in the lower weights if he lands cleanly. If Estrada sees out the early storm he will dominate the later rounds, making things really interesting on the score cards. It really could depend on whether or not Srisaket can get an early knockdown or not.
Another to consider here, and it works in Sriskaet's favour, is the potential for headclashes. A quick start by the Thai before a headclash renders an early finish could well see him take a technical decision, in part due to Estrada's willingness to start slowly. This may well figure into the game plan of both men, and see a slightly early start from Estrada.
We favour the Thai to come out on top, though we suspect he'll have to get through some very tough patches late on to come out with the win, after a very strong start.
Back in March fans in the west got their first real chance to see Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39), and he immediately made an impression dropping Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38) inside the opening round, en route to a unanimous decision win. The victory saw Srisaket becoming a 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion, though saw many dispute the decision, claiming it to have been scored wrong and that Srisaket had gotten away with dirty tactics, due to his use of the head. In the days that followed the bout the WBC ordered a rematch between the two men, and that rematch will take place this coming Saturday.
The win for Srisaket was a huge upset, with the Thai being priced at 13/1 just hours before the fight, and Gonzalez being 1/100 with some bookies. Despite being a former world champion Srisaket was, to many a total unknown. The bout however proved that he was a big, tough, powerful, strong and aggressive fighter who was always going to be a handful for anyone in the division. He was flawed, but a bit of a divisional man monster, and that showed as he seemed to dwarf Gonzalez, who was looking to make his first defense of the title.
For those who missed the first bout Srisaket really is a brutish fighter. He fights at a good pace, though did slow down in the later stages of the bout with Gonzalez, he starts fast, is one of the biggest punchers pound-for-pound and brings intense pressure every time he's in the ring. Despite having a bit of a padded record, as most Thai's do, he does hold notable wins over Yota Sato, Hirofumi Mukai and Jose Salgado, all of whom were stopped by Sriaket and he is a genuine talent.
The Thai's record is marked up, though it should be noted that he actually began his career 1-3-1, losing 3 early career bouts in Japan. Following that start he's gone 42-1 (38) with his only loss being a technical decision in Mexico to Carlos Cuadras, with Cuadras beginning to flag before the bout was stopped. With only that one loss in his last 43 bouts he's a confident fighter and one who will be entering this bout on the biggest win of his career.
When it comes to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez we really are talking about one of the best little men the sport has seen. He's an offensive monster who has shown his skills around the globe and notched up notable wins from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight, whilst becoming the first ever 4-weight champion from Nicaragua. Fans who understand the lower weight divisions will understand how impressive Gonzalez's record is with wins against the likes of Yutka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Akira Yaegashi, Brian Viloria and Carlos Cuadras.
Gonzalez is a highly skilled offensive fighter, who uses his offense as his best form of defense. He's throws silky smooth combinations of heavy shots, switches between head and body with easy and looks incredibly smooth in the ring. His movement is fantastic, his power is destructive and he really is a very special fighter. Sadly though as he's moved up to 115lbs we've seen his effectiveness decrease, his shots don't have the same destructive power they used to have and his relatively limited defense has caused the heavier shots of opponents at Super Flyweight to really mark him up and damage his face.
Prior to his first bout with Srisaket Gonzalez had had a poor camp with issues away from the ring, including the death of long term mentor Arnulfo Obando. He, and his team, will have learned from that but given the miles on the clock that Gonzalez has, and the miles added with every round he now fights at 115lbs, it's hard to know just how long he can keep going, despite “only” being 30.
Given the way the first bout went we're expecting something really exciting again here, we're actually expecting a repeat, rather than a revenge, with Srisaket again bullying Gonzalez en route to another win. That will kill any hopes of a show down between Gonzalez and Naoya Inoue, who makes his US debut on the same card, but that's perhaps best for Gonzalez's health if we're being honest.
The Super Flyweight division is arguably the strongest in the sport right now. It features a great selection of talents and is an incredibly deep division with probably the best top 5 and top 10 in the sport today. This coming Saturday we see a number of those top fighters in action with the most notable of those bouts being a potential FOTY contender for the WBC title, as Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38) takes on former champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น].
Whilst fans who have heard HBO fawning over Roman Gonzalez may not have heard of Srisaket the Thai should prove to be the type of fighter that will make for an insane war with Gonzalez, being similar, albeit cruder, to the Nicaraguan great.
As we all know Gonzalez became the first Nicaraguan to become a 4-weight world champion last year when he took a narrow win over Carlos Cuadras, who had actually usurped Srisaket with a technical decision in May 2014. The win over Cuadras saw Gonzalez adding the WBC Super Flyweight title to a resume that had included WBA titles at Minimumweight and Light Flyweight as well as the WBC Flyweight title. It also saw him adding Cuadras' name to a long list of great wins, which include victories over Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Akira Yaegashi and Brian Viloria.
At the lowest weights Gonzalez was a freakish monster who steam-rolled opponents. He came forward with an ultra-aggressive style and was too strong, too powerful and too aggressive for fighters at 105lbs and 108lbs. As he's moved up through the weights however he has found people who haven't buckled under his aggression, with Juan Francisco Estrada, McWilliams Arroyo and Cuadras all taking Gonzalez the distance in the last 5 years, and they are 3 of just 6 men to last 12 rounds with Gonzalez.
Coming forward with a tight guard, a lot of upper body movement, great combinations and frightening power Gonzalez is a genuine monster, and highly regarded through out the boxing world as one of, if not the, best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. That talent can only take a fighter so far and now, at Super Flyweight, some question whether or not the naturally bigger and stronger fighters will be too much for the Nicargauan.
In Srisaket we sort of have a poor man's Gonzalez, but a poor mans' Gonzalez who is a genuine Super Flyweight and looks massive at the weight. Not only that but he has took on regional Super Bantamweights, and stopped them, showing that like Gonzalez he can push around and bully naturally bigger men. Like Gonzalez he doesn't go the distance often and has stopped 38 of 41 opponents through his 8 year career. Those stoppages haven't come against the top guys in the sport, but do include wins over Yota Sato, Hirofumi Mukai and Jose Salgado.
On paper Srisaket will likely be written off by some fans who look at his record, and not the fighter. Srisaket has got a number of blotches on his record but began his career 1-3-1, being thrown in Akira Yaegashi on debut and suffering 3 set backs in Japan during an 11 month run. Since that faltering start Srisaket has gone 40-1 (37) and has proven to be a beastly lower weight fight, from a stable that also includes Suriyan Sor Rungvisai.
In the ring Srisaket is a slow stalker but one who never seems to back up, and will pursue his man until they end up being stopped. He's not a man who tends to hear the judges scorecards, and since losing to Cuadras we've seen Srisaket go 14-0 (13), his only non-stoppage being a technical decision win over Zoren Pama, in what was a flat performance from Srisaket after his loss to Cuadras. Notably he has been inactive since the end of August last year and whilst that could be a good thing, it may be a problem with Srisaket typically being a very busy fighter and a 6 month lay off might not be the best of things for him.
We know Gonzalez will start as the favourite here, that's obvious, but if we're being honest we see this as a really competitive bout. Gonzalez' lack of size will be an issue against a man like Srisaket, who is a huge puncher himself, and we'll go out on a limb and call the upset here with Srisaket eventually breaking down the smaller, but more talented, Nicaraguan in the later rounds.
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)
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.