Photo Credit: WBC Boxing
INGLEWOOD, CA — Juan Francisco Estrada achieved his long-sought redemption in defeating rival Srisaket Sor Rungvisai by unanimous decision at the Forum.
While this long-awaited rematch didn’t have the late drama of the 2018 Fight of Year contender, the bout showcased Estrada’s technical brilliance as an unquestioned top P4P fighter and prompted questions about a head-scratching game plan from the former champion.
ROLE REVERSAL: Rungvisai usually sets the punishing pace that keeps fighters gunshy about attempting to counter his massive blows. Estrada tends to be measured early by gauging his opponent’s strategy before taking over in the middle rounds. It was this exact strategy that allowed Rungvisai to hold onto an early lead and escape with a majority decision in their first encounter.
Last night, it was Estrada who came out on fire. Rungvisai’s come-forward aggression was met with right uppercuts and digging left hook counters to the body. Estrada’s footwork had Rungvisai lunging for a moving target and constantly off balance, allowing Estrada to sometimes outland him 4-1 during exchanges.
Although Rungvisai would land the occasional hard shot, the lack of consistent offense made it difficult to score rounds for him through eight.
RUNGVISAI’S FATAL ERROR: Being a southpaw is one of Rungvisai’s biggest advantages when combined with his size, power and relentless style. For some inexplicable reason, he fought the majority of the fight from an orthodox stance as if intent to show the challenger he could outbox him.
The strategy was disastrous until the ninth when Rungvisai switched back and began nailing Estrada with left hands. The champion’s hands were busier and more accurate, giving Estrada more pause and preventing combination countering Estrada had displayed earlier.
Unfortunately for Rungvisai, his adjustments can too late and Estrada got the unanimous decision via scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice.
TRILOGY OR UNIFICATION?: There’s certainly money in a rubber match and Rungvisai has to be encouraged considering he was a round away from a draw despite a poor strategy. And considering Rungvisai’s recent deal with DAZN, the platform likely has the most funds to make a third fight a no-brainer.
However, El Gallo does have intriguing unification matchups. Should IBF title-holder Jerwin Ancajas successfully defend his strap next week against Ryuichi Funai, Estrada’s team would see that a favorable matchup due to Ancajas’s leaky defense. The UK’s Khalid Yafai, who holds the WBA title, would also be an underdog against Estrada but might fancy the allure and international attention from taking on a top 10 P4P fighter.
For now, Estrada can bask in the glow of being crowned the consensus best fighter at super flyweight.