This weekend brings about a Superfly boxing Stubhub event that has boxing fans salivating with some of the best lighter weight world talent on show.
On Saturday (September 9th) the Super Flyweight division takes over boxing in Carson, California, as five of the divisions biggest names vie for center stage on a magnificent tripleheader.
The headline act – in terms of both order and stature – is former pound-for-pound number 1, Roman Gonzalez who aims to avenge the first defeat of his impeccable career.
The Nicaraguan lost for the first time in March, losing his WBC Super Flyweight title via a contentious majority decision to unheralded Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
The Thailand fighter hadn’t lost since a 2014 technical decision to Carlos Cuadras – another fighter on the bill. That night he lost the title he now holds for the second time, and his only significant win since was against a fading Jose Salgado.
So, it was one of the biggest upsets in recent years, when he came off the back of beating three debutants to dethrone the pound-for-pound king.
Gonzalez 46-1(38KO’s) felt unlucky to lose for the first time in 47 fights, but his slow start and defensive lapses were enough to see two judges edge towards the challenger.
Rungvisai 43-4-1(39KO’s) took his fair share of punishment, and with his persistent punching off the backfoot, he exploited weaknesses that most had yet to see in Gonzalez.
Gonzalez had become so used to walking down his opponents. Maybe he – like almost every expert – had taken the fight as a given. That should not be the case this time around.
Rungvisai is a world class operator, but there is no doubt that repeating the trick for a second time will be a tough ask.
Rungvisai may fight with more confidence this time around, while Gonzalez picks up more urgency earlier on. The two combined should make for another fascinating clash.
Like many greats before him, there is the possibility that Roman has met his bogeyman, and the Thai boxer may once again have Gonzalez’s number.
(Hat tip Joshua Massey YouTube)
But the pick is for revenge to be taken inside the distance. Rungvisai is resilient, but he was stopped in his first two professional contests.
Starting at a high pace, the champion will take an early lead, but Gonzalez will not take long to figure a way to consistently find the body of Rungvisai.
After a heavy stream of punishment in the middle rounds, Gonzalez can eventually break the will of Rungvisai, stopping him with a crisp body shot in the 9th round.
Should Gonzalez come out victorious in the main event, then there are three fighters chewing at the bit to be next in line for the popular Nicaraguan fighter.
Two of those meet in the fight of the night, as Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada meet in a compelling contest.
The two-share narrow unanimous decision defeats to the spectacular Gonzalez, Estrada suffering a second career defeat in 2012, while Cuadras was beaten for the first time almost exactly one year ago.
While Cuadras 36-1-1(27KO’s) is the career Super Flyweight, there is very little difference in size between the two. Estrada has always been a big Flyweight, and the recent move up was expected.
A rematch with Gonzalez has been long awaited for Estrada, and many were surprised it never happened when the two held belts in the Flyweight division. But Gonzalez’s recent exposure on American prime-time television has certainly made the potential timing of a clash early next year as the perfect moment for two of the best pound-for-pound fighters to meet.
But Cuadras is far from a pushover for Estrada 35-2(25KO’s). In fact, he is the toughest opponent he has faced besides ‘Chocolatito’.
Cuadras failed to make a statement last time out when he managed a points triumph against the decent David Carmona, but that performance hardly tells the story of what Cuadras can produce.
The expectation is for Estrada to fight much of the bout on the front foot, dragging Cuadras into a toe-to-toe battle where he can break Cuadras down over the course of the 12 rounds.
Both are highly skilled, and should produce plenty to admire for the purists. But this battle between two experienced Mexican boxers is set to catch fire.
The feeling is that Cuadras is the slightly easier to hit, and that could be the difference maker as that allows Estrada to catch the judges eyes, while Cuadras does most of his work on the counter.
After 9 rounds of intriguing action, the two will put it all on the line to either force a stoppage or sway the judges in the final stages.
The high level of pride as well as the even nature of the contest will ensure the two hear the final bell in an instant classic. This is unlikely to be the last time that Cuadras and Estrada meet in a boxing ring, but it will be Estrada to take the series lead with a split decision win.
In the second world title bout of the night, we have one of the most highly anticipated American TV debuts in recent times, as Japan’s Naoya Inoue 13-0(11KO’s) makes the 6th defence of his WBO Super Flyweight title.
It is just his 14th professional outing, but ‘Monster’ has taken the hardcore boxing world by storm since a 2014 destruction of Adrian Hernandez. The list of world class opponents has heaped up, and only David Carmona has seen the final bell in a world title clash with Inoue.
Antonio Nieves 17-1-2(9KO’s) may prove tougher than first expected, as the American moves down from Bantamweight to take on the unenviable task.
Nieves narrowly lost last time out to unbeaten Nikolai Potapov, but comes in here as an opponent for Inoue to showcase his brilliance in front of a worldwide audience.
Inoue’s ‘Monster’ alias perfectly sums up the 24-year old in the ring, and he looks set to pave a way into the big boys’ league with an emphatic win.
With a world title around his waist, Inoue will have the chance to dive straight into the Roman Gonzalez sweepstakes. And the man who also deserves a spot in the top 10 pound-for-pound rankings will leave the fans wanting to see plenty more with an inside-the-schedule win.
Nieves will earn plaudits, but will be taken out of proceedings after numerous knockdowns in round 7.