by Cliff Rold
The little guys delivered again.
HBO’s investment in Roman Gonzalez has borne fruit on several vines. Gonzalez’s classics with Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai now are joined by excellent clashes between Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada and now Estrada and Sor Rungvisai.
For the moment, with Naoya Inoue off to bantamweight, the Thai banger is the unlikely leader of the pack. With wins over Gonzalez and Estrada, he’s now got a pair of wins as good as any active fighter in the sport.
Yes, it was close last weekend and debatable in the first of two fights with Gonzalez. Close isn’t a sin when facing men of their caliber. How many active fighters, near their prime right, have two better wins than Gonzalez and Estrada?
It’s a short list.
Given how hard these fights are, it will be tough to make this longer than a short run.
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Sor Rungvisai: Saturday was another example of what a shame a cut can be sometimes. What happens if Carlos Cuadras’ skin had stayed intact in 2014? He’d hurt Cuadras to the body not long before a cut sent them to the cards early. Who knows what the heavy handed Sor Rungvisai might have done. It is his only defeat since 2010 after starting his career 1-3-1. He’s cooking with gas now, a 31-year veteran still adding wrinkles to his game. Sor Rungvisai may be headed towards a rematch with Estrada and early talk about a return engagement headlining “SuperFly 3” is welcome. Saturday was fantastic, a fight where each man had sections of control before a sizzling final frame (this scribe scored it even after twelve). If not Estrada, could Sor Rungvisai be lured to bantamweight? Many a fan would love to see a puncher’s showdown with Japan’s Naoya Inoue and Inoue may have a title in the higher class by the end of the year. For now, it is at least fair to debate whether or not Sor Rungvisai owns the best pair of wins by any Thai fighter since Pone Kingpetch scored career victories over Pascual Perez and Fighting Harada.
The Future for Estrada: In another era, Estrada would be even better. Estrada is the sort of fighter who used to score knockouts in the 13th, 14th and 15th rounds. In this era he’s a guy who, matched tough, can find himself without much cushion. He boxes smart; sometimes smart means the other guys wins some rounds with a goal to play off their spent energy later. A strong start and finish weren’t quite enough. Estrada just came up a hair short here, and gave Sor Rungvisai everything he had in pursuit of a finish in the final three minutes. He has the talent to reverse the outcome in the rematch. If it can’t happen right away, he could always stay busy with someone lime McWilliams Arroyo (who posted a career best win over Cuadras on the undercard) or chase another belt with a Sor Rungvisai fight after that. Those are solid alternatives. The best alternative is to do this thing again as soon as possible.
Rold Picks 2018: 2-3
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]