By Paul Mason (@PaulMason1986)
This Saturday (9th September) at the StubHub Centre in California sees the lower weights take centre stage, as a triple header of contests at Super Flyweight are the main events. Sky Sports televise in the UK, where WBA Champion, Britain’s Kal Yafai is likely to be looking on, while HBO will broadcast in the USA. Here I preview the contests.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, KO39) v Roman Gonzalez II (46-1, KO38) – WBC Super Flyweight Title
These two men lock horns again this Saturday night, six months after their see-saw battle, which saw the relatively unknown Thai, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, take the unbeaten record and WBC World Title from the Nicaraguan pound for pound star, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez via a tight majority decision to become a two time WBC Champion in a fight that literally could have gone either fighter’s way. In a fight of non-stop action, where Gonzalez was badly cut in the third, the difference in the end would prove the knockdown of Gonzalez in the very first round. He was edged out 114-112 on two judges’ cards, meaning the fight would have been scored a draw with a 10-9 round instead. The third judge scored the fight a 113-113 draw. Gonzalez ended up on the wrong end of the verdict, despite landing 441 punches compared to just 284 punches landed for Sor Rungvisai. So they do it all again this weekend.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, or Wisaksil Wangek depending on which website you visit, has come from obscurity outside of his native Thailand, to become a two-time World Champion. He turned professional in March 2009, and his first five fights gave him a 1-3-1 record, including stoppage defeats in his first two fights. His career has been built on a diet of debutant fighters, and ones with losing records. Of his 48 fight career, he has faced a debutant on 14 occasions, including, alarmingly three in succession before facing Gonzalez in New York in March this year.
After the disaster of his first five fights, he went 17 unbeaten to earn a shot at the WBC Title, where he stopped Yota Satu in Thailand. He would only make one defence of the Title in his next eight fights, a stoppage win over Horofumi Mukai in November 2013. Six months later, he would lose the Title following a clash of heads against a man I’ll cover later in Carlos Cuadras. Cuadras was intentionally head butted by Sor Rungvisai, and the fight was stopped. The Mexican prevailed on the scorecards after eight completed rounds.
Since that reverse, the Thai has gone 16 unbeaten, however, only five men he has faced (including Gonzalez) had a winning record, and as previously mentioned, three were making their debut.
Before meeting Sor Rungvisai in March, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was considered as the next big thing in the sport. He excites fans and pundits alike, as he has started out his career much in the same vein as Manny Pacquiao. He had been cutting a devastating swathe through the lower weight divisions, winning world titles in four weight divisions, from the minimum weight upwards. He has captured both the WBA Straweight and Light Flyweight Titles, as well as the WBC Championship at both the Flyweight and Super Flyweight Weight Classes.
The Nicaraguan sensation turned pro in 2005, and after 20 simple victories, he challenged Yutaka Niida, knocking him out in four in Japan to win the WBA Straweight World Title. He then hovered between weights, fighting at flyweight as well as defending his title at the minimum weight, including a close run majority decision win over Francisco Rosas in his first fight in Mexico. Three fights later however, Gonzalez dismantled Rosas in two rounds, winning the interim WBA Light Flyweight Title in the process. This was upgraded to the full title and he then made five defences in his next eleven fights, floating between weights in the fights in between.
In 2014 he settled at Flyweight and won the WBC, Ring Magazine and Lineal titles in defeating Akira Yaegashi in Japan via ninth round stoppage. Two fights later, Gonzalez finally gained maximum exposure by appearing on HBO alongside Golovkin in co featuring bouts. “Chocolatito” sparkled on the night, blasting Edgar Sosa to defeat in two rounds. Brian Viloria was then beaten (TKO9) and McWilliams Arroyo (Unanimous Decision) followed, before Gonzalez challenged Carlos Cuadras for his WBC Super Flyweight Title. In a closer than officially scored fight, where both boxers threw over 1000 punches each, Gonzalez won unanimously on the cards to capture a fourth weight world title. He was more than expected to easily deal with Srisaket when they met, but the Nicaraguan is forced to attempt redemption this weekend.
I expect Gonzalez to have learned from his mistakes from that night, and put in a commanding performance on Saturday night. I feel the cut hindered him massively in the first fight, and as long as he can steer clear from the Thais wandering head, I can see Gonzalez stopping Sor Rungvisai late on.
Naoya Inoue (13-0, KO11) v Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, KO9) – WBO Super Flyweight Title
Japanese buzz saw Naoya Inoue excitingly makes his US debut on the card, when he defends the WBO portion of the Super Flyweight crown against Cleveland, Ohio’s Antonio Nieves. Inoue is one of three brothers who all box professionally, but Naoya has received the most hype, mainly due to his high percentage knockout ratio, even at World level.
Inoue turned over in 2012, and won the WBC Light Flyweight Title in just his sixth fight, by stopping Adrian Hernandez in Japan in April 2014. After one defence, stopping Wittawas Basapean, Inoue moved up to Super Flyweight, and knocked out Omar Narvaez to lift the WBO Super Flyweight Title that he currently occupies, to become a two weight World Champion in just eight fights. He has since made five defences, all in his native Japan, and four via stoppage to elevate him to high level status on American Television this weekend.
Antonio Nieves seems on paper to be tailor made for Inoue’s American debut.
Nieves has one year more ring experience and seven more fights than Inoue, but hasn’t really climbed many ladders since turning pro. After twelve straight wins, he had to settle for a split draw against Stephon Young in Oakland in June 2015. Four straight wins followed, picking up a fringe WBO NABO Title at Bantamweight in the process.
He is 1-1-1 in his last three fights. A win over Szilveszter Altai was sandwiched between a draw against Alejandro Santiago, and in his last fight he suffered a split decision loss in Detroit back in March to Nikolai Potapov to take away his unbeaten record.
Quite what Nieves has done to earn this shot at World honours is unclear, and he has been campaigning at Bantamweight thoroughout his career.
I expect Inoue to impress and halt Nieves around halfway, to hopefully set up a mouth-watering unification dust up with Roman Gonzalez.
Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1, KO27) v Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2, KO25)
Last but not least on this Super Flyweight extravaganza are two men who have both been World Champions and have eyes on a bigger prize.
The 29 year old former WBC Champion, Carlos Cuadras, meets the 27 year old Juan Francisco Estrada, who is coming up from Flyweight, having reigned as the WBA (Super) and WBO boss at the weight. This is a battle of Mexico, and the winner would surely throw themselves into the mix for a fight with the winner of either of the two aforementioned fights. The fight is a WBC Title eliminator.
Cuadras has been a professional for nine years, and went 28-0, picking up the WBC Super Flyweight Title with a win over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on a previously mentioned technical decision. His first defence saw a first blemish on his record with a technical draw against Jose Salgado.
Five defences followed in the USA, Japan and Mexico, before he met his reign met it’s end against Roman Gonzalez. He has since rebounded with a unanimous decision victory over David Carmona.
Estrada has developed into an established World Champion after also turning pro in 2008. After an eighteen fight winning streak, he was outpointed in May 2011 by Juan Carlos Sanchez Jnr in Los Mochis, Mexico.He rebounded with eight straight wins to earn a crack at the WBA Light Flyweight Title, but came up short, again unanimously outpointed, by common foe Roman Gonzalez.
He bounced back immediately, moving up to Flyweight to relieve Brian Viloria of the WBA (Super) and WBO Titles via split decision. He defended the belts five times, winning four via stoppage or knockout. He meets Cuadras at the higher weight this Saturday following two non-Title wins.
Caudras has been quoted as saying he wants to win this early, but I think this could well be the show stealer. I think Cuadras’ experience at the weight will tell in the end, and can see him coming through on the cards.
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