Junior bantamweight world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and mandatory challenger Juan Francisco Estrada both scored big victories on the Sept. 9 card dubbed “Superfly.”
Now they will collide in the main event of a probable can’t-miss action fight on the “Superfly 2” card on Feb. 24 (HBO) at The Forum in Inglewood, California, promoter Tom Loeffler told ESPN on Saturday.
“It’s very exciting to announce the main event for the second installment of our ‘Superfly’ series,” Loeffler said, adding that the HBO telecast also will include two other bouts in the loaded 115-pound weight class. “With the tremendous response from fans and media from our first event and overwhelming anticipation to our second, we join boxing fans in saying that we can’t wait until Feb. 24 at The Fabulous Forum.”
On the Sept. 9 “Superfly” card — super flyweight is the alternate name for the junior bantamweight division — at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, Thailand’s Sor Rungvisai scored a crushing fourth-round knockout of former four-division world champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in a rematch of the former’s controversial decision win to claim a 115-pound world title on March 18.
In the opening bout of that HBO card, former unified flyweight world titleholder Estrada scored a 10th-round knockdown and won an action-packed decision — 114-113 on all three scorecards — against former junior bantamweight titlist Carlos Cuadras in a title eliminator to earn a mandatory title shot against Sor Rungvisai.
“The super flyweight division is the deepest division in the world at the moment,” Sor Rungvisai said. “I have great respect to Tom Loeffler and HBO for making ‘Superfly’ so successful, and ‘Superfly 2’ will continue to deliver. We have so many great fighters in the super flyweight division, and it is exciting for me because there are many world-class opponents that can make terrific fights.
“Juan Francisco Estrada is definitely among the top-class fighters in our division. When someone is a former unified champion that moved up without losing his titles, you know he is a world-class fighter in his prime. However, I am confident that I will be successful in this fight because I will be at my best on fight night again. We will give the fans an incredible fight and I plan on another impressive win. I would like to invite all Thais in the United States, especially those in Los Angeles, to attend my fight. Together our Thai hearts will beat and our Thai blood will be pumped with pride and excitement.”
Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39 KOs), 30, a former garbage collector before hitting it big in boxing, is in his second title reign. He won a 115-pound belt in 2013 and made one successful defense before losing it to Cuadras by eighth-round technical decision in 2014. When he got his second title opportunity against Gonzalez in March, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, he won a controversial decision in a bloody fight.
The victory ended Gonzalez’s unbeaten run, knocked him from the top spot on the pound-for-pound list and made Sor Rungvisai a national hero in Thailand. Sor Rungvisai left no doubt in the rematch against Gonzalez.
“Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had a remarkable year in 2017, upsetting ‘Chocolatito’ and defeating him again in his first defense at our first ‘Superfly’ event,” Loeffler said. “Juan Francisco Estrada won a terrific fight against Carlos Cuadras on Sept. 9 at the StubHub Center and is very anxious to challenge for a world title against Sor Rungvisai.”
Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs), 27, of Mexico, has won 10 fights in a row since losing a unanimous decision in a hellacious battle with Gonzalez in a junior flyweight world title fight in 2012. During his winning streak, Estrada outpointed Brian Viloria to win two flyweight world titles and made five defenses before vacating them to move up in weight.
Now Estrada has his chance to win a title in another weight division.
“I am very excited about facing Sor Rungvisai,” Estrada said. “He will be a difficult challenge, as he defeated Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez twice in a row with a vicious KO in their last fight. Sor Rungvisai is a very tough and skilled boxer, so I will have to prepare very well to be ready to challenge him for his belt.”
The other bouts on the card have not been finalized, but Loeffler said Gonzalez will not be part of the show. However, Japanese star Naoya “Monster” Inoue (14-0, 12 KOs), 24, who made an impressive debut in the United States by knocking out Antonio Nieves in the sixth round to retain his 115-pound belt on the “Superfly” card, will be back to face an opponent to be determined, as long as he comes through a title defense against France’s Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26 KOs) on Dec. 30 in Yokohama, Japan.
Loeffler said other fighters who could appear on “Superfly 2” include Mexico’s Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs) and world titleholder Khalid Yafai (23-0, 14 KOs) of England.