Super fly Rungvisai
A few minutes after the pulsating ending to the bout between WBC 115-pound champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada, that finished with a memorable flourish, in which the Thai fighter retained his title via majority decision (115-113, 114-114 and 117-111), the talk began of a rematch.
But really it was a fight – as the cliche goes – with no real losers. Both little big men come out of this contest elevated in stature.
It left the announced crowd of 7,827 at the Forum, in Inglewood, California, and watching at home on HBO wanting more.
Promoter Tom “360” Loeffler went over to press row, where he stated, “I already talked to HBO, the WBC and they would support it. So if there’s a way to make the rematch for the fall, I think this is what the fans are going to want to see.”
And it would only make sense to go back to the scene of the classic.
“It belongs in L.A. and, with such a great crowd here tonight, I think it would be tremendous to bring it back to the Forum,” said Loeffler. Sor Rungvisai-Estrada is now right alongside Murat Gassiev’s 12th round stoppage over Yunier Dorticos, earlier this month, as an early candidate for “Fight of the Year.” It’s what boxing fans have come to expect from this series, which highlights the sport’s most exciting weight class (or ones in that proximity). For HBO’s struggling boxing franchise (which seems more about marketing and promoting pay-per-view events and showcase fights nowadays), this has become its “Transformers” series, a surefire way to placate and entertain its subscribers on a consistent basis – and based on the box-office numbers, good business.
After a slow start, Sor Rungvisai started to assert himself in round three and his stout left hand pushed back the Mexican, who, through most of the middle rounds, had to fight off his back foot versus the hard-charging southpaw, who began to layer in body blows to his attack. It was evident that the defending champion was the stronger, more physical fighter.
Going into the championship rounds, it was clear that Estrada was fit to be Thai’d (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and he needed to do something signficant to get back into this fight. And this is precisely what he did and Estrada showed that, for as talented as he is, he might be even tougher. Throughout the evening, he showed a stout chin and world-class durability and toughness. In the late rounds, Estrada started to hold his ground more and was able to take the play away from Sor Rungvisai and win the late exchanges.
The 12th and final round was something that the late great Keith Jackson would have said should have been bronzed.
The Mexican challenger closed hard but, unfortunately, his rally fell just a bit short on the cards (and yes, Steve Morrow’s card is very Adalaide Byrd-ish)
It says here that the judges got it right. This scribe’s scorecard had “Mr. M-150” up by the tally of 115-113. The Mexican’s partisans booed the decision lustily but even they had to admit this was a close fight – and just as more importantly, a memorable one. (A very informal and unscientific poll on Twitter’s small majority had Sor Rungvisai winning or on the other end of a draw.)
Sor Rungvisai is one of the game’s best stories. His meager and humble beginnings have been well-chronicled and, after beginning his career in 2009 by going 1-3-1 in his first five outings, he has since lost just one fight (a highly-disputed technical decision to Carlos Cuadras in 2014). Now Sor Rungvisai’s on a run that has seen him defeat a future Hall-of-Famer Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez twice last year and he has kicked off his 2018 by handing Estrada his first loss in five years (spanning 10 fights).
Sor Rungvisai told HBO’s Max Kellerman, “I’ll fight anyone at 115 and I’ll fight Estrada again.”
Estrada said of a possible return bout versus Sor Rungvisai, “Yes, no doubt.”
Everyone just might get their wish.
‘SUPERFLY 2’ RANDOM THOUGHTS
– Mexican fans are a tough lot to please. Early on during the Donnie Nietes-Juan Carlos Reveco bout they were not shy in making their displeasure heard (and, really, the action inside the ring was not terrible) but Nietes closed the show suddenly by buzzing Reveco late in the sixth round and then finishing him off early in the next frame.
Nietes, the defending IBF flyweight champion, is a solid, all-around fighter and he has expressed interest in perhaps moving up to super flyweight. Based on what he displayed on Saturday night, he would fit right in.
– McWilliams Arroyo injected new life into this career by out-fighting a rather flat and listless Carlos Cuadras on the opening bout of this HBO broadcast.
While Cuadras went through a rigorous training camp in Big Bear, Calfornia, with trainer Abel Sanchez, he just didn’t have his usual energy. Perhaps, that atmosphere (and maybe altitude) just isn’t for him or maybe he has just turned the corner physically after many hard nights at the office.
– It’s clear that this group of boxers, from 112-to-115 pounds are a high-quality group, one that would’ve fit right in with Johnny Tapia and Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, in the past, but will contemporaries such as the WBA’s Kal Yafai and the IBF’s Jerwin Ancajas (both of whom hold belts at 115 pounds) ever get in the mix? HBO ran a graphic on Saturday of the super flyweight division and, while Yafai was listed, Ancajas (who’s with Top Rank and therefore on ESPN) was conspicuously absent.
When Ancajas fought back on February 3, the ESPN crew had no problems mentioning the HBO “super flys.”
– Once again, more proof that #BeltsMatter: Sor Rungvisai’s resurgence came, in many respects, with the aid of the WBC, which made him Chocolatito’s mandatory, which is how he got that first crack at Gonzalez last year. And then the fight with Estrada was set up, as the WBC decreed his bout on the first “SuperFly” card, against Cuadras, as the official eliminator.
You really think Sor Rungvisai was going to be anyone’s voluntary defense or a fighter that big-name boxers in the divison were going to fight without a mandate? No, these organizations are far from perfect or consistent enough but. for many boxers. they provide an invaluable structure that affords them certain opportunities.
Artem Dalakian clearly out-pointed Brian Viloria for the vacant WBA flyweight title. At 37, this could be the end for the “Hawaiian Punch”…The Forum is actually becoming a better fan experience than the StubHub Center for boxing fans. Yeah, I said it. They actually let you tailgate (without grilling) and the police and security are very accomodating…Once again the MrBoxingGuru tailgate delivered. Tom Loeffler, a man of the people, even came by to say hello and deliver souvenir cups…Glad this card was indoors. Seriously, it was cold (even by Southern California standards)…The parking rates at the LAX Westin Hotel are insane. I’m beginning to think they make their money on parking and not their rooms…There was actually a fan from Jacksonsville, Florida, whom I met at SuperFly 2. Crown him…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.