Cooper’s Corner: Rungvisai/Estrada Preview

A Super Fly Extravaganza

We are but a mere seven weeks into the year 2018. But we have already been treated to some fantastic action, something that promises to continue long into the year.

But of all the fights I have seen announced in recent months, none has excited me more than the action due to take place this Saturday at The Forum, Inglewood, California. You may recall an article I wrote for you all earlier this month on the emergence of the Super Flyweight division in 2017. Well hold onto your hats folks, because ‘Superflys II’ is upon us.

The highlight of course being the main event, where Sor Rungvisai puts his WBC Super Flyweight title on the line against an incredibly tough and game Juan Francisco Estrada.

Now, you can make all kinds of arguments that it was Rungvisai and not Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko that deserved anybody’s fighter of the year award last year. At the beginning of 2017 Rungvisai, who polices the streets of his native Thailand by day was a complete unknown entity to the masses. In fact unless you were a fan of the lower weight divisions, you could be completely forgiven for not knowing a thing about him. Fighting almost exclusively out of his homeland, Rungvisai had only been on the road four times prior. All in losing efforts, although bear in mind three of those loses were in Japan right at the start of his career. His first WBC title reign will have gone by unnoticed by many. He defended the title once before losing on a techincal decision to Carlos Cuadras back in 2014.

But lets fast forward to the bright lights of New York City and the hallowed boxing mecca of Madison Square Gardens. Roman ‘Choclatito’ Gonzalez was on the verge of something special. At 46-0, the three weight world champion was on the verge of chasing something special at 46-0 he met Rungvisai in March of last year. In what was certainly one of the shocks of the year Rungvisai became a national hero overnight. Beating Gonzalez by majority decision and knocking him off of the fabled pound for pound #1 spot in the process. As close as many (although I thought Rungvisai was the clear winner) thought the first fight was. The new champion left nothing to chance in their rematch six months later. Producing a highlight reel knockout in the fourth round which left Gonzalez in boxing limbo.

Given last week’s action failed to deceive, i’m loathed to hype this fight too much … But i just cant help myself, this fight has Fight Of The Year written all over it.

Standing in the way of Rungvisai bringing the WBC Super Flyweight belt back to Thailand is a man that is no stranger to world honours himself. Enter former WBA & WBO Flyweight Champion Juan Francisco Estrada….

Estrada got himself into contention for a shot at the WBC Superflyweight title by beating Carlos Cuadras (who holds a win over Rungvisai) in an incredibly close fight winning 114-113 on all 3 of the judges scorecards.

Styles make fights and the two styles of these men make for an interesting match up. The champion is incredibly powerful, but there is nothing pretty about his work. Put simply he gets the job done. He is very aggressive and switches from head to body incredibly well. So a lot of this fight will be about how well Estrada can cope with Rungvisai’s constant pressure. What the champion lacks in versatility the challenger brings in abundance. Estrada has one of the best jabs in the world of boxing today in my opinion. It is his best weapon, he uses it to blind his opponents and distract them, allowing him to bring his right hand perfectly into play. As basic as a one-two is simple, Estrada uses it perfectly.

I expect Rungvisai to be on the front foot for the whole fight. The key to Estrada negating the power of his opponent is to do attack in the openings that he sees not the ones he expects to be there. I’ve seen him do this before and against such a live body like Rungvisai he will need to be on top of his game. Estrada is a technician, a tactician whos best shot is a left hook thrown low. Rungvisai’s left hand is like a sledgehammer and Estrada will need to use all of his boxing nous to stay away from it.

I lean towards Estrada as I always give the fighter with the better ring IQ the benefit of the doubt. But i would not be surprised if it is Rungvisai’s hand that is raised at the end of the fight.

As always, may the best man win!

By: Aaron Cooper