CompuBox Preview and Prediction: Sor Rungvisai-Estrada

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

By CompuBox

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.

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Breaking Out

 

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.

Ring Scientist

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.

Prediction

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.

SuperFly Takes Flight Again

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

By Eric Raskin

You say you have sequel fatigue? Franchise fatigue? Reboot/remake/spinoff fatigue? Well, get over it. SuperFly 2 is here, and this is one case where it makes complete sense to keep building on existing intellectual property.

Last September at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., K2 Promotions put on the pay-cable boxing card of the year, a tripleheader called SuperFly featuring three fights in the loaded but previously under-exposed 115-pound division. The show opened with a thrilling back-and-forth 12-rounder in which Juan Francisco Estrada edged Carlos Cuadras, then it introduced Naoya Inoue to American audiences as the Japanese mega-talent stomped all over Antonio Nieves, and it ended with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai claiming the top spot in the division with a stunningly brutal knockout of former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.

Promoter Tom Loeffler figured if it ain’t broke, slap a “2” on the end and do it again, so he put together another tripleheader, for Feb. 24 at the Forum in Inglewood, with a few of the same headliners and the same fan-friendly concept. The main event pits Sor Rungvisai against Estrada to crown a new lineal champion at super flyweight. Cuadras returns in a Mexico vs. Puerto Rico showdown with McWilliams Arroyo, and two of the top three 112-pounders in the world, Donnie Nietes and Juan Carlos Reveco, will aim to show that regular ol’ flyweights can be super too.

“I think we’ve actually managed to top it this time, if you can imagine,” Loeffler said on the HBO Boxing Podcast. “These lighter divisions, they’ll fight the best fighters. They’re not afraid to defend their titles or unify their titles against other top fighters. And I think that’s what allows us to make these great fights. … These small guys, it’s nonstop action with those guys. Fans know they’re going to get a lot of fireworks, a lot of entertainment, and nonstop action.”

If Loeffler is right that SuperFly 2 is going to be better than the original, it’s the main event that will elevate it to those extreme heights. Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada is a dream fight for fans of the little guys. With Inoue having moved up in weight, these are the clear top two fighters at 115, and the winner will be crowned champion of the division by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board as well as The Ring magazine.

It’s a fascinating matchup of prime, peaking fighters with varied histories against the fellow elites of their division. Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) was first to get a shot at Chocolatito, back in 2012, and he came closer than anyone else had at that point to upsetting the champ. On the first SuperFly card, he became the only fighter besides Chocolatito to hand Cuadras a loss. In between, “El Gallo” defeated Brian Viloria, Giovani Segura, and Hernan “Tyson” Marquez. If Estrada isn’t on or within striking distance of your pound-for-pound top 10, your list isn’t worth much.

The same could be said of a pound-for-pound list that doesn’t have Sor Rungvisai on or damned near on it. The Thai southpaw (44-4-1, 40 KOs) did what Estrada and everybody else couldn’t by handing Gonzalez his first loss (by disputed decision in a corker) and his second loss (by undisputed crumpling). Sor Rungvisai also shared the ring with Cuadras, against whom he lost an inconclusive eight-round technical decision in 2014. As for Sor Rungvisai’s other three defeats and his draw, you have to go back to his first five pro fights to find any of them.

“I know a lot of people think that Sor Rungvisai is going to beat me and knock me out, because he looked very good against Gonzalez,” Estrada said on ESPN’s A Los Golpes, “but boxing is a matter of styles. Cuadras beat Rungvisai, and I beat Cuadras … One fight has nothing to do with the other. I’m preparing for a tough fight and to win the world championship.”

Estrada’s correct that styles matter, of course, and the clash of styles here is overflowing with intrigue. We think of the 31-year-old Sor Rungvisai as a straight-forward, mow-‘em-down bully, but he’s actually a much better counterpuncher than people give him credit for. He’ll counter with either hand to the body and the head, and he’s able to do it so well because he’s not the least bit afraid to take a punch on his sturdy chin while looking for his spots. Estrada, however, has an essential weapon in his arsenal that can prevent Sor Rungvisai from getting comfortable enough to lead or counter: feints. The 27-year-old is a master at bending at the waist ever so slightly, making it look a punch is coming, until opponents truly have no idea when they do or don’t have something to defend against. Expect a lot of feints from Estrada, especially in the early rounds, to limit how much the Thai banger can do what he wants to do.

That said, with Sor Rungvisai, it only takes one shot. He generates serious power with his muscular legs, leading even his less explosive punches to push opponents around. He isn’t a big combination puncher, but with single blows, he can do major damage. We’re talking about a guy who once made an opponent vomit mid-fight from a single left hand to the stomach. Simply put, Estrada doesn’t want to stand still in front of Sor Rungvisai and exchange with him.

But when on his toes, Estrada is likely the most well-rounded fighter in the super flyweight division. He possesses an accurate left jab, he punches in combination, and he rolls with shots well and has better defense than Sor Rungvisai. Estrada is also a highly skillful infighter, and from that position, while there are certainly risks, he can limit the impact of Sor Rungvisai’s southpaw stance.

Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada is a fight in which no prediction is remotely safe. They’re No. 1 and No. 2 in the division for a reason. If we’ve entered the post-Chocolatito era at the top of the 115-pound class, the division is certainly in good hands with either of these scrappers as its ruler.

The shadow of Chocolatito looms over the co-feature as well, as both Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs) and Arroyo (16-3, 14 KOs) are members of the somewhat exclusive “we went the distance with Gonzalez” club. Puerto Rico’s Arroyo, 32, hasn’t fought for nearly two years, and he was a 112-pounder his entire career until now, so he does face some disadvantages against the slick Mexican showman. Cuadras, 29, has taken criticism for questionable preparation in the past, but that seems unlikely to be an issue coming out of his first training camp in Big Bear, Calif., with new coach Abel Sanchez.

“I know Arroyo very well, he’s a great fighter,” Cuadras said at the press conference announcing the card. “It’s Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, which is always a great fight. I have to beat Arroyo and then I want to fight Estrada again. I have the medicine in my fist to beat them both.” Never one to disappoint his fans, Cuadras then added what has become a catch phrase of sorts: “I’m fast and strong and very, very handsome.”

Handsome doesn’t win fights, but fast and strong do, and who’s faster and stronger between flyweights Nietes (40-1-4, 22 KOs) and Reveco (39-3, 19 KOs) is anyone’s guess. They’re ranked second and third, respectively, in the weight class by the TBRB, and if anything, there’s a case to be made that Nietes should be higher than that — he just hasn’t been a flyweight long enough. The 35-year-old Filipino hasn’t lost since 2004 and has put together title reigns at 105, 108, and now 112 pounds. Alphabet belts don’t always mean much — Nietes beat a fringe contender to claim his vacant title — but if he defeats 34-year-old Argentine Reveco, who’s had alphabet reigns of his own at 108 and 112, it lends a lot of legitimacy to Nietes’ case as top dog among flies.

PODCAST: Ep 236 - SuperFly 2 Preview

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney preview the 115-pound championship fight between Srisaket For Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada and analyze whether this "SuperFly 2" tripleheader is better from top to bottom than the original "SuperFly" event. SuperFly 2 airs on HBO on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 9:30 PM. ET/PT.

Daniel Jacobs to Battle Undefeated Maciej Sulecki at Barclays Center on April 28

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Former middleweight world champion and Brooklyn Boxing ambassador Daniel Jacobs (33-2-0, 29 KOs) returns for a 12-round middleweight showdown against undefeated contender Maciej Sulecki (26-0-0, 10 KOs). The event is presented by Matchroom Boxing USA and takes place Saturday, April 28 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Opening the HBO telecast, undefeated Brooklyn heavyweight contender Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller (20-0-1, 18 KOs) faces former world title challenger, Johann “The Reptile” Duhaupus (37-4-0, 24 KOs), of Abbeville, France, in a scheduled 12-round clash.

Barclays Center is the home of Jacobs’ biggest career victory, a stunning first-round knockout of Brooklyn rival Peter Quillin on Dec. 5, 2015. Known as the “Miracle Man” for his miraculous recovery from cancer in 2012, Jacobs is returning to battle following a dominant 12-round unanimous decision over then-undefeated Luis Arias on Nov. 11, 2017.

“I’m very excited to be back at Barclays Center, it always feels like home fighting there," said Jacobs. “I want to thank Eddie Hearn, HBO and Brett Yormark for making it possible.

“I’m looking forward to fight Sulecki on April 28, he’s an undefeated guy that I know will be looking to make a name for himself by beating me," continued Jacobs. "I’m looking to have a great training camp and get myself focused to really put on a show for the Brooklyn fans come April 28.”

Jacobs is currently world ranked No. 2 by the WBA and No. 3 by the WBC, IBF and WBO in addition to being ranked No. 3 by ESPN.com. This will be his fifth time fighting in his hometown venue, Barclays Center. 

Sulecki, a native of Warsaw, Poland who now lives in Florida, capped a successful 2017 with a 10-round unanimous decision victory over former world title challenger Jack Culcay on Oct. 21. Over the course of his eight years as a professional, Sulecki has compiled wins against notables including Hugo Centano Jr., Grzegorz Proksa, Darryl Cunningham and Damian Ezequiel Bonelli. Sulecki is ranked No. 6 in the world among middleweights by the WBO.

“This is an excellent opportunity for me to fight one of the very best middleweights in the world,” said Sulecki. “I’ll be very well prepared to stay undefeated and defeat Jacobs in front of the Polish boxing fans at Barclays Center as I continue my march to become a world champion.”

The heavy-handed Miller, 29, scored two dominant stoppages in 2017. Fighting for the first time at Barclays Center on July 29 of last year, Miller stopped former world title challenger Gerald Washington at the end of eight rounds.  Miller is currently ranked No. 3 among global heavyweights by the WBO, IBF and WBA.

“Nothing makes me more gratified and blessed to do what I love best and that’s to get back in the ring and continue to solidify my place as the next heavyweight Champion of the world," said Miller. "This fight on April 28th is just the next step to being recognized as the best in the world and a training ground for Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder."

Duhaupus stormed through 2017 with three dominant wins, including an eighth-round stoppage of Newfei Quatah on Dec. 14 in Levallois-Perret, France.  Among the top names Duhaupus has battled over his 13-year professional career are WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, Alexander Povetkin, Robert Helenius, Manuel Charr and Erkan Teper. Duhaupus is ranked No. 7 among world heavyweights by the WBC.

“A top heavyweight does not have to be heavy or light, fat or slim," Duhaupus said. "A heavyweight just needs to be strong. I will show on April 28 that I am strong enough to beat Jarrell Miller.”

Also returning to the Barclays Center on the non-televised undercard, WBA lightweight women’s world champion Katie Taylor (8-0-0, 4 KOs) of Bray, Ireland will fight in a 10-round world title unification against IBF lightweight women’s champion Victoria Bustos (18-4-0) of Rosario, Argentina.

Details regarding tickets will be announced shortly.

PODCAST: Ep. 235 - Little Guys Draft

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney kick off the countdown to the Feb. 24 Superfly 2 card by engaging in a "Little Guys Snake Draft," assembling fantasy teams of the best 115-pound-and-below fighters of the last 25 years.

PODCAST: Ep. 234 - Tom Loeffler

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney sit down with promoter Tom Loeffler for a discussion covering the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez rematch set for May 5, the stacked Superfly 2 card on February 24, and the legacies of the Klitschko brothers.

PODCAST: Ep. 233 GGG - Canelo 2 Early Mini Preview, Super Bowl Philly Boxing Talk

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney offer up an early preview of the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez middleweight championship rematch, exploring a couple of numbers to know and asking each other some burning questions. They also discuss the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl victory and draw parallels with a handful of the best Philly fighters of recent decades.

PODCAST: Ep. 232 - GGG vs. Canelo 2 Announcement, Matthysse vs. Kiram and Linares vs. Gesta

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney weigh in on the major breaking news announcement that Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin 2 has been signed for May 5 on HBO Pay-Per-View, then they analyze Lucas Matthysse's eighth-round knockout of Tewa Kiram and Jorge Linares' unanimous decision win over Mercito Gesta.