By Allan Cerf
Background: Saturday Feb. 24, HBO, it’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco “The Rooster” Estrada with the WBC title at stake.
Since Srisaket’s shocking, utterly undeserved victory vs. Roman Gonzalez, his stock has been rising. He kayoed Gonzalez in their rematch and for some, inherited Chocalito’s pound-for-pound mantle. His impossible to pronounce name is now, sort of, on everyone’s lips. Curiously, it’s not even his real name. Srisaket’s timing is fortuitous – he’s had forty-nine very hard fights and just like Gonzalez – his body could cave at any time.
Estrada is a worthy challenger with perfect command of my favorite punch; the left uppercut from a right hand fighter, also a fine left hook – even though it was the right which floored Carlos Cuadras and raised his own profile. The net? This should be a dynamite fight.
My Dad, the most casual boxing observer, watching the Olympics, quipped: the punches of very small men “don’t do shi*!” While an exaggeration both men obviously hit hard: this weight class features, to a man, combination punchers with above average hand speed. Physics demands that bigger boxers hit harder and generally aren’t as coordinated. Ultra-low classes, while of interest, are not my preferred brew – but this fight is a big exception.
Fighter’s Scorecards: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Sor Rungvisai: B+ A B- B B-B+A (Average of all) B+
Juan Estrada: B B B- A B+B B (Average of all) B
Reality Check: Most observers see this as can’t miss TV (agreed) and a certain, win, probably a KO, for Rungvisai, about which I’m not so sure. If Estrada’s reach really is 66” – for a 5’4” dude – this is a tremendous genetic edge. Age, also, is definitely in his corner. Estrada has solid fundamentals, a ton of heart and is a great ring general. Evidence his producing a 10th round knock-down in a very close fight with the outstanding Cuadras, which apparently turned a draw into a ‘V.’ I’m in love as I’ve mentioned with his left uppercut. But I also implicitly understand why Srisaket is the favorite. Forty big KO’s speaks volumes. Also, though Gonzalez landed a record 56% of his power punches vs. the Thai, he absorbed them all and kept coming. While Sor Rungvisai certainly got an undeserved decision (Justice and Julie Lederman are blind) he got a PHD in pugilism from a major university. Nonetheless he’s appeared vulnerable before – as in his defeat to Cuadras.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai: Exactly like Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines, Srisaket has literally risen from the ruins. From garbage collector to Thailand’s National hero, he credits his wife Patchareewan Kanha whom he’ll soon marry as being the reason for his success.
Juan Estrada: TBD
Fight and Prediction: I’ve had more wrong picks this year than the past 10 combined. I’m usually right about 90 percent of the time. I’m picking Rungvisai by a very close decision. Expect high drama.