Consider the developing scenario in the 115-pound division as one organization’s continued attempt to prove they are different from the rest.
Promoter Eddie Hearn pleased the sport’s hardcore fan base with a dream rematch finalized between lineal junior bantamweight champion and WBC titlist Juan Francisco Estrada and WBA 115-pound title claimant Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez. The bout—which comes more than eight years after their November 2012 war —will take place March 13, 2021 at a location to be determined but with the full support of the WBC.
“The WBC is happy to confirm that the unification fight in the super flyweight division between WBC champion Juan Francisco Estrada and WBA champion Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez has been confirmed,” the sanctioning body announced on Tuesday. “This highly anticipated rematch is made possible due to the exemplary acceptance and sportsmanship of mandatory contender Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who has agreed to temporarily step aside to allow this great fight to happen.”
Sor Rungvisai (49-5-1, 42KOs) is the former lineal champion, having previously held the WBC title following a March 2017 win over then-unbeaten Gonzalez. Their September 2017 rematch was far more emphatic, with the hard-hitting southpaw from Si Sa Ket, Thailand flattening the former pound-for-pound king inside of four rounds. The feat was followed up by a thrilling 12-round win over Estrada in February 2018, thus establishing lineal championship status in the division.
Mexico’s Estrada (41-3, 28KOs) claimed the WBC belt and the World championship in a revenge-fueled win over Estrada last April in Carson, California. Sor Rungvisai has hovered around the division’s top spot, marking time with a 10-round win over countryman Amnat Ruenroeng in August and a 2nd round stoppage of overmatched Filipino journeyman Jomar Fajardo. The latter win prompted the now 34-year old to call for a rubber match with Estrada, though since permitting the unification bout to first take place with the assurance of next facing the winner.
“Rungvisai will keep his mandatory status and #1 ranked position at WBC Super flyweight, and will get to fight for the WBC Title next by August/September 2021 against the winner of Juan Francisco Estrada vs Roman Gonzalez,” confirmed the WBC. “If the Estrada vs Gonzalez fight ends in a draw or No Contest, Rungvisai will get to fight the WBC World Champion for the World title next, on the same timeline.”
Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (50-2, 41KOs) re-entered the title picture following a 9th round stoppage of unbeaten Kal Yafai this past February in Frisco, Texas. One defense has followed, a 12-round unanimous decision over mandatory challenger Israel Gonzalez this past October. The same show saw Estrada climb off the canvas to drop and stop former champ Carlos Cuadras in the 11th round of their instant classic.
Gonzalez and Estrada first met in November 2012, taking place at junior flyweight.
Their spirited 12-round affair saw Gonzalez claim a well-earned unanimous decision in his toughest test to that point, also marking the final defense of his junior flyweight after having previously held a belt at strawweight. From there came championship wins at flyweight and junior bantamweight to become the only fighter ever from Nicaragua to win titles in four weight divisions.
Estrada won his first two belts in his next fight after the loss to Gonzalez, outpointing Brian Viloria to leave their April 2013 bout with two flyweight titles in tow. Five successful defenses followed before moving up to junior bantamweight in 2016, winning a second divisional title three years later in his aforementioned rematch with Sor Rungvisai. The bout with Gonzalez will mark his third attempted lineal championship defense; Gonzalez attempts the second defense of his WBA belt while entering his 20th career title fight.
The rematch comes about thanks to the efforts of all parties involved.
“We understand the frustrations of boxing fans when it comes to mandatory challengers,” Mauricio Sulaiman, president of WBC told BoxingScene.com. “We have also strived to present the best fights possible and do our best to remain flexible when it comes to mandatory [title defenses] standing in the way of the fights that the sport truly needs and deserves.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox