INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Srisaket Sor Rungvisai retained his WBC super flyweight title with an exciting majority decision over Juan Francisco Estrada on Saturday night.
The Thai champion (44-4-1) controlled the early rounds and withstood a late charge from Mexico’s Estrada (36-3), leading to a dynamite 12th round that brought the lively crowd of 7,827 to its feet.
Sor Rungvisai, a near unknown in international boxing two years ago, has won 18 consecutive bouts, including two defenses of the title he took from Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in a major upset last year.
Puerto Rico’s McWilliams Arroyo won a majority decision over Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras in the 115-pound penultimate bout of the latest “Superfly” show at the Forum. Donnie Nietes of the Philippines also defended his IBF flyweight title with a seventh-round stoppage of Argentina’s Juan Carlos Reveco.
Sor Rungvisai won the bout 117-111 and 115-113 on two cards, and a third scored it 114-114. The Associated Press also scored it a draw, 114-114.
“It was a very good fight,” Sor Rungvisai said. “He hits very hard, and I like his style, but I know I won the fight.”
The quicker Estrada got off to a strong start to thrill the pro-Mexican crowd, but Sor Rungvisai asserted his combination of body shots, counterpunching and head movement. Sor Rungvisai tagged Estrada repeatedly in the middle rounds, but Estrada put together a strong flurry in the eighth to begin a surge.
Estrada appeared to win several late rounds with faster hands. Both boxers fought desperately in the 12th, and both were raised in victory by their cornermen after the bell.
“I felt I won the fight clearly,” Estrada said. “I boxed him all night long, and then I attacked him the last three rounds. I landed great shots at the end. I don’t know what the judges saw.”
The card was the latest edition of the unlikely series of shows dubbed “Superfly” by Tom Loeffler and his fellow promoters. The events have showcased the world’s top talent in the super flyweight — or junior bantamweight — division, while also putting other overlooked boxers from the lighter weight classes on prominent display.
The concept for the shows evolved from promoters’ attempts to showcase Gonzalez, but the unbeaten four-division world champion from Nicaragua was dethroned last year by Sor Rungvisai, who won a debatable decision over Gonzalez on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s victory over Daniel Jacobs in New York.
Gonzalez got a rematch with Sor Rungvisai last September on a “Superfly” show, and the Thai champion left no doubt by registering a fourth-round knockout victory.
The WBC has mandated a title defense against Arroyo as Sor Rungvisai’s next bout, but everything is negotiable in boxing.
“I thought this performance warranted a rematch,” Loeffler said. “If there’s a way we could make a rematch for the fall, it would be tremendous to bring it back to the Forum.”
Arroyo (17-3-0) hadn’t fought since April 2016, when Gonzalez beat him by decision in the Forum. Yet the former Puerto Rican Olympian showed few signs of ring rust, peppering Cuadras throughout the 10 rounds and earning a wide decision on two cards.
“People underestimated me because I hadn’t fought in almost two years, but I was always in the gym, and I was always ready to fight,” Arroyo said. “I want now to fight the winner of the main event tonight. I will beat them also, and show I’m the best fighter in the business.”
Cuadras (36-3-1), who beat Sor Rungvisai in May 2014, had Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez in his corner for this bout, but said he felt tight and stiff against Arroyo.
Nietes (41-1-4, 23 KOs) landed a huge shot at the sixth-round bell on Reveco (39-4), who wobbled back to his stool. The Filipino veteran then floored Reveco with a four-punch combination early in the seventh, and Reveco’s corner threw in the towel.
The 35-year-old Nietes hasn’t lost since 2004, and he knows it’s time to land a major fight.
“I’m not sure if I’ll stay at this weight or move up,” Nietes said. “I want the biggest fights possible. I would love to fight Chocolatito. I would also love to fight the winner of the main event tonight.”
Earlier, Ukraine’s Artem Dalakian claimed the WBA flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Brian Viloria. The Azeri-born Dalakian (16-0, 11 KOs) bloodied his 37-year-old American opponent on the way to a dominant victory.