by Cliff Rold
With Naoya Inoue off to bantamweight, this appears to be what the division has boiled down to. With all due respect to titlists Khalid Yafai and Jerwin Ancajas, it’s hard to argue that anyone besides the winner of Saturday night’s main event is the best Jr. bantamweight in the world.
Outside the offerings of the World Boxing Super Series, this “SuperFly 2” show is the best card made in boxing so far this year with a genuine pick ‘em main event that has many a bowing follower stumped.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Title: WBC Super Flyweight (2017-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: WBC Super Flyweight (2013-14, 1 Defense)
Weight: 114 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Si Sa Ket, Thailand
Record: 44-4-1, 40 KO, 2 KOBY
Rankings: #1 (TBRB, Ring, ESPN, BoxRec), #2 (Boxing Monthly)
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-1, 3 KO
Last Five Opponents - Inconsequential for Sor Rungvisai: Gonzalez twice and four tune-up foes – 58-20 (.744)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Akira Yaegashi TKO by 3; Yota Sato TKO8; Carlos Cuadras L8 – Technical; Roman Gonzalez MD12, KO4
Juan Francisco Estrada
Previous Titles: WBA/WBO Flyweight (2013-Present, 5 Defenses)
Weight: 115 lbs.
Hails from: Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Record: 32-2, 23 KO
Rankings: #2 (TBRB, Ring), #3 (Boxing Monthly, ESPN), #5 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 6-1, 4 KO
Last Five Opponents: 139-17-3 (.884)
Current/Former World Champions Faced: Juan Carlos Sanchez L8, TKO10; Roman Gonzalez L12; Brian Viloria MD12; Giovani Segura TKO11; Hernan Marquez KO10; Carlos Cuadras UD12
The Case for Sor Rungvisai: The Thai appears to have attained an extra level of confidence since his debated first win over Roman Gonzalez. That confidence, when combined with heavy hands and a sturdy chin, can be trouble for anyone. Sor Rungvisai’s offensive mindset could serve well against an Estrada who sometimes takes a few rounds to warm to the task. If Sor Rungvisai can score an early knockdown, there is the potential for big impact on the scorecards. He has serious power to the head and body and, if Estrada elects to try to box outside, it is the latter that could be the bigger hindrance.
The Case for Estrada: There seems to be an assumption from some that Sor Rungvisai is the naturally bigger man. The facts put them much closer to equal on those terms. While he reigned for an extended time at 112 lbs., Estrada has spent a lot of his career at 115 lbs. and has settled in nicely there since 2016. Estrada’s key to victory here might be simply his versatility. Someone like Gonzalez could only really fight Sor Rungvisai one way. Estrada can brawl in spots if he needs to but he also has the jab and footwork to box at range. Estrada has to be conscious of not falling into a hole early like he did against Cuadras last year, but Sor Rungvisai’s offense might force him to start faster anyways. If Estrada is the one finishing early exchanges, it will be a good sign for the rest of the night.
A close fight on paper, this feels like one that could be decisive by night’s end. Estrada hasn’t lost since his 2012 fight with Gonzalez, a common opponent. That includes a win over another common opponent in Cuadras, a reflection of Estrada’s ability to break down opponents as a fight wears on. What Estrada did to Cuadras, slowly dissecting his game and taking control in the second half, is much like what he did to win flyweight titles from Brian Viloria. He is the pick to do the same Saturday. The fight will be highly entertaining but around the fifth round expect to see it shifting slightly from thrilling two-way action to cerebral, violent control. Sor Rungvisai will come forward all night and when he doesn’t knock Estrada out he’ll find himself starting to get picked apart. Estrada is the choice by decision.
Rold Picks 2018: 2-2
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]