For Carlos Cuadras, the Road to Gonzalez and Inoue goes through Estrada
This report is courtesy of special guest contributor Tamas Pradarics.
For those who know pugilism inside and out, fighters like Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras and Naoya Inoue are household names. They are all action heroes, athletes who not only grab wins but also attract fans inside arenas and in front of television sets with their skills, mentality, intelligence and ferociousness.
All these boxers compete in the super flyweight division today. This is one of the reasons the 115-pound category is arguably the finest of them all. But what really makes the divisiona magical is that these guys dare to take risks and fight one another.
Tonight they are about to do just that. They share a stacked card that takes place at the StubHub Center, in Carson, California, while the televised portion of the event will be aired live on HBO. September 9 is a celebration day in boxing. The sport once again offers an example of how it can perform in the the healthiest possible manner.
Roman Gonzalez and Carlos Cuadras do have some history. The Nicaraguan Gonzalez, 46-1, (38), was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world in September of 2016, when he decided to target a championship title in a fourth weight division, super flyweight.
Carlos Cuadras, 36-1-1, (27), held the WBC title for years then and was one of the two highest ranked beltholders at 115 pounds, alongside WBO king Naoya Inoue. The battle of the two undefeated champions served as the main event of an HBO-televised card at the legendary Forum in Inglewood, California. Cuadras gave a tougher-than-expected war to Chocolatito in one of the finest high-stake fist-fights of 2016. Gonzalez earned the decision in the end but the amalgamation of styles called for a rematch.
Gonzalez, however, had to take care of the WBC’s longtime mandatory challenger, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai first on March 18. Cuadras still scored a bout on the undercard at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The event brought a lackluster performance by Cuadras against a willing David Carmona, that ended in an uneventful 10-round decision win for the Sinaloa-born former champion.
Gonzalez, of course, had his share of struggles against the double-tough Sor Rungvisai. After he got dropped in the very first round by a short right hook to the ribs, Chocolatito was forced to go the distance and, in addition, he left his “0” in the ring after a controversial majority decision loss.
This left the WBC to solve the issue regarding the mandatories. Gonzalez, who entered as the No. 1 contender after his sudden defeat, got an immediate rematch against his successor, while No. 2-ranked Cuadras has been put in the co-featured bout on this Saturday’s HBO broadcast against No. 3-rated Juan Francisco Estrada in an elimination to elevate the next mandatory for the winner of Sor Rungvisai vs Gonzalez II.
Estrada, 35-2, (25), is a former unified champion at flyweight and was the only fighter to give Gonzalez serious problems in a 2012 108-pound title bout won by Chocolatito, after a close 12-round barnburner.
This will be the third straight appearance in the United States for Cuadras, who is considered a slight underdog going into tonight’s bout against Estrada. The 29-year-old, however, does not really care about the odds. He put vastly more energy into decent preparation to get ready for such a challenge against his countryman.
”I had a very tough and long training camp in the Otomi Mountains in Mexico. My friend Pedro Guevara was there for me and I also had Karim Arce, who is (Jorge) ‘Travieso’ Arce’s cousin. We together had tough sparring sessions. We did more than 150 rounds,” Cuadras told UCNLive.com, during a recent video interview, through his brother Cesar, who served as a translator.
“I have taken training seriously and putting in special elements. I always wanted to face ‘El Gallo’ Estrada and I had to make sure to become strong enough in all areas to be able to get the win.”
Thanks to honest preparation, Cuadras had to take care of only four extra pounds three days before the weigh-in. He arrived in Los Angeles from Mexico on Sunday, September 3, and only had to participate in light training sessions to sweat off the rest of the weight.
”I can not really talk about the tactics. All I tell you is that I want to make him miss. Estrada likes when fighters are coming forward, so I am going to wait for him,” said Cuadras with a bright smile.
The former super flyweight beltholder gave Gonzalez a tough outing with his quick legs, that he used intelligently to get out of harm’s way, after he came out with his own offense. Using his footwork against the technically well-rounded, counter-oriented Estrada could be a good investment during a long, tactical scrap.
“Yes, I want to do just that. I want to provoke him to make him come at me and then make him pay for that.”
Estrada is a classy fighter and perhaps an underrated pugilist, who has never really gotten a fair shake for his technical skills. One of the most accomplished Mexican fighters ever, Juan Manuel Marquez said in an interview years ago that Estrada has what it takes to be his descendant as the most complex active fighter from their respective country. Estrada poses a totally different style for Cuadras than Gonzalez did, and the fighter also known as “Principe” is well aware of that; however, he gave more credit to Chocolatito.
According to Cuadras, “Gonzalez is stronger and Estrada is not as special as Gonzalez but I think El Gallo is faster than Chocolatito. In his natural weight, Estrada was powerful but, in this division, he would not nearly be like that.”
Cuadras was seemingly not so eager to talk about the strengths of his recent foe. Instead, though he fully concentrates on the task at hand, Cuadras was more open, regarding his potential bout against the winner of Sor Rungvisai vs. Gonzalez II, should his hands be raised tonight in Carson.
Principe knows much about Srisaket, too, as he did win the WBC belt from the Thai boxer back in 2014 following a rough and tough bout, ending in round eight because of an accidental clash of heads that opened a huge gash on Cuadras’s left eyebrow.
“I would like Chocolatito to win because I want to get my revenge on him but I think it is a tough fight (for Gonzalez). The Thai fighter can win. I have already fought with Sor Rungvisai as well. I remember he was a strong fighter. He always comes forward but he was also slow and I was ahead of him because of my feet. My face was hit more times with his head (than with his gloves). I think it would be easier for me to fight him for the second time.”
During a recent interview conducted by RingTV.com’s Anson Wainwright, Gonzalez discussed he would prefer a potential unification showdown at 115 pounds with Japanese master-boxer Naoya Inoue for his next outing after he handles Sor Rungvisai in tonight’s rematch. Inoue, 13-0, (11), will make his Stateside debut on the same event and live on HBO against American Antonio Nieves. The super-fight between the two powerhouses has long been a topic by fans around the world.
The question arises which way Cuadras would go, in the event that the two stars choose each other as opponents next time around. In other words, would he follow a potentially vacant belt or wait for the winner of Gonzalez-Inoue?
“First, I wanna be a champion, no matter what. And, of course, I would like to fight Chocolatito too. And in the event I cannot get the Gonzalez fight, I would like the fight with Inoue. I think Inoue has some strength but he is not the strongest in this division. I am the strongest,” said Cuadras.
To prove he is the strongest and best in his division, Cuadras first has to take care of Estrada in what is believed to be the toughest test in the Sinaloa-born pugilist’s career, next to his matchup with Gonzalez.
Cuadras vs. Estrada is simply a can’t-miss action fight tonight. Just like Sor Rungvisai vs. Gonzalez II or the U.S. debut of Naoya Inoue, boxing always dares to ask the hard questions of the posrt’s overall health. And it answers with this card that it is alive and well. As long as the best dares to take on the best, all is good in Fistiana.