Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is on the comeback trail. The former WBC 115lbs champion has won his last three and is coming off a comfortable win over Kwanthai Sithmorseng last Saturday.
Kwanthai and Srisaket are both former world champions with bags of experience. But from the opening bell at Workpoint Studios in Bangkok it was abundantly clear that there would only be one winner.
The former WBA 105lbs champion quit after three rounds of constant punishment. It was an easy afternoon’s work for Srisaket who was able to relax and watch the fight between Ramon Gonzalez and Juan Estrada knowing that he had cemented his status at the number one contender.
Estrada prevailed, albeit in controversial fashion, and Srisaket wants to face the Mexican as soon as possible,
“I want to fight Estrada next. It was promised to me that I will get to fight the winner of Estrada and Chocolatito by August or September this year. I will have trilogy with Estrada next. Then, after Estrada, I will have the trilogy with Chocolatito if the fans want to see it,” he said.
The scoring for that match raised a few eyebrows with Gonzalez unfortunate not to have earned the nod in the estimation of many observers. That raises the possibility of the fight being played back immediately but Srisaket is adamant that he should not lose his place in the 115lbs queue,
“I have been the mandatory challenger of Estrada for over a year now, so he should fight me next. If Estrada does not take the mandatory fight against me, it can only mean that he is scared of fighting me. I cannot take it any other way. “
He also points out that Estrada pledged to face him for a third time after fighting Gonzalez,
“His team asked for the unification fight against Chocolatito, and they already got what they wanted. They said they would have Estrada to fight me right after the Chocolatito fight. They should respect their own promises and fight me. If Estrada avoids his mandatory fight against me again, I really don’t think he can have the dignity as a true world champion.”
The 35 year old, speaking through a translator, had some blunt words for his Mexican rival,
“Will you be able to carry the world title belts around, acting like a champ, but being scared of fighting your mandatory challenger? Will you really be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, knowing in your heart that you are avoiding your mandatory, and telling yourself that you are the world champion? If you avoid me again, then all you are doing is lying to yourself.”
He did dial things back a little bit and Estrada has clearly earned his respect after 24 hard fought rounds,
“I am not saying that Estrada is a coward or a bad man. We all know he is a warrior for what he did in the ring all these years. But he has to prove that he is the true champion by following the obligation and fulfilling his promises. If he takes his mandatory against me next, I will give him all my respect as the true champion. But if he avoids it again this time, it is just not possible for me to give him that respect.”
Estrada and Srisaket are the only fighters to have beaten Gonzalez. But the Thai is the only man to have beaten him convincingly, knocking the Nicaraguan out cold in their 2017 rematch.
Gonzalez’ other two losses have either come by way of mixed decision or split decision and were far from clear cut. As the controversy rages about last weekend’s scoring Srisaket sees this as yet another reason why he deserves the trilogy title match with Estrada,
“I deserve it. I beat Chocolatito twice when he was the #1 pound for pound fighter. I am the only one to beat Chocolatito convincingly and by KO.”
Srisaket also points out that as champion he never ducked a mandatory challenger,
“I have been his mandatory for over a year now. I did everything I had to do to be the next opponent. I earned my rights. I am tie with Estrada with 1 win and 1 loss. I have been waiting patiently as the mandatory challenger. I gave Estrada and Chocolatito the opportunity to unify their titles with their promises to fight me right after. I did everything I had to do and could do. I deserve to be next.”
He is understandably aggrieved that Estrada has kept him waiting for the best part of a year,
“I did three mandatory fights against Chocolatito and Estrada within two years. Estrada has been WBC world champion for two years now, and he has made zero mandatory defense. Do you see the difference? How can he and his team justify that they are not avoiding the mandatory fight when he has made zero mandatory defense in two years while I did three mandatory defenses in two years when I was the champion?
Srisaket says he can understand the calls for Gonzalez to be granted an immediate rematch with Estrada. But he warns that the outcome could end up being similar to the second fight between him and the Nicaraguan
“It is not a good idea to rush back to a direct rematch after a loss like this. Last time he did that, he lost by KO to me in the rematch. After Estrada, I will give Chocolatito the only trilogy that he needs to complete his legendary career – the one against me. I want to fight Chocolatito at his best, when he is hundred percent motivated and ready mentally and physically.”
Speaking from personal experience Srisaket thinks it would be a mistake for Gonzalez to rush into a rematch with Estrada. His advice for the former champion is as follows,
“Maybe take an easier comeback fight before fighting the champion. I am speaking from experience. I feel much better now after a few tune-up fights, mentally and physically comparing to when I just lost by close decision to Estrada. I feel stronger than ever, and I am extremely motivated. Chocolatito can benefit from taking a bit of time to come back too.”
Srisaket said he would be happy to face another opponent if Estrada vacates the belt. But he is hoping that the trilogy fight can push through,
“I don’t know, it might all just be rumors about Estrada fighting Chocolatito again. Estrada said in the ring after the fight that he will look into the mandatory fight against me. I hope Estrada and his team will proceed with what they promised me earlier, which is to fight me next. If that is the case, as I said, I will give El Gallo and his team much respect as the true champions.”