The road has been cleared for a potential rubber match between Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, should they so choose to immediately pursue such a fight.
A ruling handed down by the World Boxing Council (WBC) declared Estrada as its “Franchise” champion in the 115-pound division, thus freeing him from a mandatory title defense. The lineal and previously unified WBC/WBA champion from Hermosillo, Mexico requested the designation, which was unanimously approved by the WBC Board of Governors on Friday.
The decision comes less than two weeks after Estrada (42-3, 28KOs) barely outlasted Managua, Nicargua’s Gonzalez (50-3, 41KOs) in their Fight-of-the-Year level rematch on March 13 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Estrada prevailed by 12-round split decision to claim the WBA title while retaining the WBC and lineal crowns in their memorable thriller, avenging a loss from more than eight years prior when both competed at junior flyweight.
Estrada and Gonzalez both entered the championship rematch with the understanding that the winner would be ordered to next face former champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43KOs) to honor the overdue WBC mandatory title defense. Sor Rungvisai—who owns two wins over Gonzalez and split two championship fights with Estrada—was adamant in his desire to face Estrada for a third time.
It appears that he will now have to settle for a vacant title fight versus another old foe in Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras. The bout has been approved by the WBC as part of an ordered “WBC Super Fly Tournament, which will provide the necessary structure for the WBC Super Flyweight Division and will give boxing fans around the world a series of great upcoming bouts.
“[T]here is worldwide public demand for the third Estrada vs Gonzalez fight. Their recent bout is already being considered as the fight of the year so far, with 2,529 thrown punches and 0 clinches.”
The WBC has already offered its advanced approval of a third fight between Estrada and Gonzalez.
Should both fights materialize, it will mark the 12th entry among the 115-pound division’s version of the Fab Four. It began with then-unbeaten Gonzalez claiming a 12-round win over Estrada in their Nov. 2012 scorcher, marking the final ever junior flyweight title defense for Gonzalez before moving up in weight.
Gonzalez and Estrada would both go on to claim titles at flyweight and junior bantamweight (super flyweight).
Thailand’s Sor Rungvisai began his first WBC 115-pound title reign in 2013, following an 8th round knockout of Japan’s Yota Sato in May 2013. Just one defense followed before dropping a technical unanimous decision to Mexico City’s Cuadras (39-4-1, 27KOs) in May 2014.
Cuadras would enjoy six successful defenses before running into Gonzalez in Sept. 2016, the third official entry in the series although also viewed as the foundation for the memorable four-man rivalry. Gonzalez would go on to suffer back-to-back losses to Sor Rungvisai, including a frightening 4th round knockout in their Sept. 2017 rematch which aired on HBO atop an aptly named “SuperFly” tripleheader. The show also saw Estrada outlast Cuadras in a narrow 12-round decision in the first fight, the lone entry among the 10 fights between the four to not have a title at stake.
Sor Rungvisai then beat Estrada to defend his WBC 115-pound title and claim the lineal championship in their Feb. 2018 thriller. Estrada would gain revenge 14 months later, becoming a two-division titlist after outpointing Sor Rungvisai in their entertaining April 2019 rematch.
Estrada has since made three successful title defenses. The most recent came in the aforementioned unification bout with Gonzalez, preceded by his off-the-canvas 11th round knockout of Cuadras in their Fight-of-the-Year nominated rematch last October in Mexico City.
Cuadras has not fought since then.
Sor Rungvisai has won three in a row since his loss to Estrada. His most recent bout came in a 3rd round knockout of Kwanthai Sithmorseng earlier this month in Bang Phun, Thailand, on the eve of Estrada-Gonzalez II. The stay-busy affair came with the assurance from the WBC of fighting for the sanctioning body’s title in his next fight. This resolution is a crafty way of keeping that promise.
“Srisaket Sor Rungvisai shall fight Carlos Cuadras for the WBC super flyweight World championship,” announced the sanctioning body along with an ambitious future proposal. “The winners of Estrada v. Gonzalez and [Sor Rungvisai] v. Cuadras fights shall fight each other to determine the sole WBC World Champion of the Super Flyweight Division.
“The WBC is extremely satisfied to be able to design the WBC Super Fly Super Tournament; a structure of upcoming bouts, which brings the best fights to the boxing fans while accomplishing just and fair results, all within the mandates of the governing WBC Rules and Regulations.”
Dates and deadlines have yet to be assigned to any of the ordered and approved WBC-sanctioned fights.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox