When last September's "Superfly" triple-header was announced, many thought that several potential mouth-watering matchups would be cemented, two of which would be a rematch between Roman Gonzalez and Carlos Cuadras or a unification match between "Chocolatito" and WBO counterpart Naoya Inoue, who was making his U.S. debut and was expected to blow out Antonio Nieves.
While Inoue did his part by impressively dismantling Nieves in six rounds, neither Gonzalez or Cuadras held up their end of the bargain as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who many thought should have lost to Gonzalez in their first match, crushed Gonzalez in four rounds while Juan Francisco Estrada used a powerful second-half rally (and a 10th round knockdown) to score a narrow but popular unanimous decision. Now, "Superfly 2" will produce what should be a tremendous main event between Sor Rungvisai and Estrada, mostly because of the contrast in styles: Sor Rungvisai's swarming versus Estrada's science.
With his twin victories over Gonzalez, Sor Rungvisai vaulted himself from a bit player in Chocolatito’s victory train to a legitimate candidate for 2017 Fighter of the Year. Yes, many thought he shouldn't have gotten the majority decision in fight one, mostly because Gonzalez had dominated statistically (441-284 overall, 69-7 jabs, 372-277 power and percentage gaps of 44%-30% overall, 20%-4% jabs and 56%-36% power) and the round-by-round breakdowns showed that Gonzalez led 9-3 overall, 11-0-1 jabs and 8-4 power. The rematch, however, was a real eye-opener in terms of the result and a transformative affair in terms of the narrative. Gonzalez's face was a picture of doubt and trepidation while Sor Rungvisai's visage was calm and confident.
The fight itself was largely one-way traffic for the Thai, who scored two knockdowns in round four and the right hook that ended the bout was a contender for 2017's Knockout of the Year. The numbers further illustrated the Thai fighter’s dominance as he led 80-58 overall and 80-54 power and was the more active fighter (84.8 punches per round to Gonzalez's 61.8).
The accuracy gaps were surprisingly small as Sor Rungvisai led 27.5%-27.4% overall and 34%-31% in power shots. The difference in energy and attitude, however, was stratospheric and he'll likely carry that confidence into the fight with Estrada.
Estrada's array of skills have been on full display in the 10 fights since his own decision loss to Gonzalez, and, at his best, he inspires visions of another Juan — Juan Manuel Marquez. Since giving up his WBC and WBO flyweight belts, Estrada has fought three times against Raymond Tabugon (W 10), Anuar Salas (KO 5) and Cuadras (W 12) — and the combined numbers are impressive. Averaging 69.8 punches per round to his opponents' 73.5, Estrada still racked up significant advantages in the connects-per-round in all three phases (26.9 vs. 16.6 overall, 7.3 vs. 5.3 jabs and 19.6 vs. 11.3 power) while also boasting big leads in accuracy (39%-23% overall, 35%-135 jabs, 40%-34% power).
These leads held despite the fact that Cuadras actually held the statistical cards in their bout; Cuadras was more active (73.8 vs. 64.4 punches per round), jabbed better (42.6 thrown/7.8 connects per round to Estrada's 21.4/5.2), was the more precise puncher (29.4%-28.6% overall and 44%-31% power), and held leads of 260-221 overall, 93-62 jabs and 167-159 power. So why did Estrada win. First, most of Cuadras' leads were crafted in the first five rounds (116-75 overall, 42-27 jabs, 74-48 power) while Estrada rallied in rounds 6-12 (148-144 overall, 111-93 power). Second, in the midst of his rally Estrada scored a 10th round knockdown. Finally, shot-for-shot, Estrada was the heavier hitter. But while Estrada carries respectable pop, Sor Rungvisai will be the much more forceful hitter.
Inside The Numbers
Both are power punching machines. Sor Rungvisai's 55.3 thrown per round ranks #3, while Estrada's 51.1 thrown per round ranks #4. Sor Rungvisai's 21.7 power landed per round ranks #3, while Estrada's 19.9 landed ranks fourth. 39.5% of Sor Rungvisai's landed punches are body shots- #1 among CompuBox Categorical Leaders and double the CompuBox average. 81.6% of Rungvisai's thrown punches are power shots (#1 rank- CompuBox average: 58.6%) and 94.8% of his landed punches are power shots (#1 rank- CompuBox average.: 72%). 30.7% of Estrada's landed punches are body shots- third among CompuBox Categorical Leaders. Estrada's 72 total punches thrown per round and 25.4 landed ranks #3 in both categories and he also landed 5.6 jabs per round and landed 26.7%-ranked fifth.
Sor Rungvisai will be the aggressor but his aggression has thought behind it. Estrada will be the thoughtful boxer but his thinking-man's approach is backed up by a desire to inflict damage. Both are busy fighters and there will be plenty of exchanges. The last southpaw Estrada faced was a somewhat faded Hernan Marquez in his final fight at 112, and he was utterly dominant (201-97 overall, 34-21 jabs, 167-76 power and percentage leads of 38%-20% overall, 21%-18% jabs and 47%-21% power).
Against his best four opponents (Gonzalez twice, Shinsuke Yamanaka and Cuadras), Sor Rungvisai was struck by 45% of their power shots. Against a precision hitter like Estrada, that's a big problem. Sor Rungvisai's power will present a constant threat, and the Thai is the naturally bigger man and the much bigger puncher. If he strikes Estrada correctly, he is more than capable of scoring the KO. Estrada knows this as well, and thus will bestow the proper portion of respect. However, he won't grant so much respect that he will blunt his own assets. Therefore, the guess is that Estrada will win a hard-fought decision close enough to ignite calls for a rematch.