WBC Jr. Bantamweight world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai emerged as a rising star in Boxing's lower weight divisions when he scored a twelve round majority decision over Roman Gonzalez in March 2017 in New York's Madison Square Garden. A victory to win the WBC Jr. Bantamweight crown for Sor Rungvisai, who is also known as Wisaksil Wangek, that was seen as controversial by some over Gonzalez, who is regarded as one of the best fighters in the world. If there were any doubts as to Sor Rungvisai's victory over Gonzalez, the native of Si Sa Ket, Thailand silenced any critics by knocking out Gonzalez in four rounds in their rematch in September 2017.
Since the rematch with Gonzalez, his first successful title defense, Sor Rungvisai has defended his crown twice more including scoring a first round knockout over Yong Gil Bae in a non-title bout in July of last year. It was perhaps the champion’s second title defense however, that may have caused some doubts regarding Sor Rungvisai’s emergence as a rising star in the sport and more specifically the 115lb. Jr. Bantamweight division.
In what was one of the best fights of 2018, a bout that was a fight of the year candidate, Sor Rungvisai scored a razor-thin twelve round majority decision over top contender Juan Francisco Estrada. The fight, which was fought at The Forum in Inglewood, CA, was a highly tactical yet exciting bout between two of the best the Jr. Bantamweight division has to offer. A fight that was twelve rounds of nearly non-stop action. Now one year later, Sor Rungvisai and Estrada will meet again on Friday night once again at The Forum in the main event of a card broadcast by digital streaming network DAZN.
The first encounter between the two saw the ebb and flow go back and forth as both fighters had periods of effectiveness. When it comes to close fights as this one was, it will often come down to which fighter is able to execute their offense a little clearer than their opponent, which can sway opinion as to who will win close rounds in the eyes of the official judges. This was a bout where Estrada appeared for a time to be the one landing the cleaner, more effective punches of the two, but it was Sor Rungvisai who appeared to have the edge in terms of punching power when he did connect cleanly.
It should not be overlooked that there were several instances in the first encounter between these two fighters that Sor Rungvisai appeared to get caught by punches as he lunged forward and went down, but those were ultimately ruled slips by Referee Jack Reiss as it appeared at times that he was punched, but also pushed. Jack Reiss is rightfully regarded as one of the best referees in the entire sport and it is understandable why he is selected as the third man in the ring for many of the top fights to take place in the state of California. One could make an argument however, that a referee with lesser experience than Reiss may have misjudged those slips of Sor Rungvisai as knockdowns and that could have had a major impact on the scoring of the fight.
It will be interesting to see if Estrada, who will enter the fight coming off of two straight wins, will be able to make the necessary adjustments that could result in a victory this time around. For the challenger a native of Hermosillo, MX, who will also enter with an impressive record of 38-3, with 26 Knockouts, he must also utilize the same type of lateral movement that served him well in the first fight.
Although the champion Sor Rungvisai. Who will enter the fight with a record of 47-4-1, with 41 Knockouts, had the edge in power in the first fight, he was not effective in cutting the ring off from Estrada and was ineffective in being able to minimize the challenger’s movement. One aspect that may work to Sor Rungvisai’s advantage is the last time he had a rematch of a fight that was a close decision, he dominated his opponent and scored a convincing knockout to retain his world championship.
For Sor Rungvisai to have success in this fight, he must look to apply pressure on Estrada from the outset, but must also be wary to not lunge forward as he did in the first fight where he might be susceptible to getting countered, which might result in a knockdown or knockdowns going against him. The champion must find a way to minimize Estrada’s lateral movement. One way this could be accomplished, which was largely absent from Sor Rungvisai’s offense in the first encounter is to focus a consistent portion of his attack on Estrada’s body, which if successful over the course of the fight will take a toll on the challenger’s legs and make it difficult for him to evade the champion. In addition to not lunging forward, Sor Rungvisai must also not be reckless in his approach as Estrada will almost certainly be looking to play the role of counter puncher and catch the champion as he is coming forward.
What should not be overlooked as this highly anticipated rematch nears is that for the first time in several years some of Boxing’s lower weight divisions, which are not always given the television exposure and recognition they deserve here in the United States are finally being given that exposure due largely to the entertaining styles of fighters like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Juan Francisco Estrada, and Roman Gonzalez to name a few. It should also not be overlooked that these fighters and by extension the Jr. Bantamweight division were given valuable exposure in the latter days of HBO’s involvement in the sport.
As one network with a storied history left Boxing at the conclusion of 2018, a new network in the emerging digital streaming era has taken the lead in showcasing fighters and weight classes that were not always offered to American Boxing fans before. One can only hope that DAZN’s commitment to Boxing, which has seen a significant shift in how Boxing is broadcast and has provided it’s subscribers with a more affordable alternative to traditional television platforms and pay-per-view, will not only continue their commitment for many years to come, but in doing so also extend their platform to some of the best talent Boxing’s lower weight classes have to offer. An opportunity that frankly was not always taken advantage of by other networks in the sport on a regular basis.
What this ultimately might mean for the Sor Rungvisai-Estrada rematch beyond the potential of another great fight between two world-class fighters just might be opening the door for many fighters in the sport to receive the exposure that they now benefit from. It is something that is frankly long overdue and something that will help grow the sport overall in the long-term.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.
Sor Rungvisai-Estrada II takes place tomorrow night (Friday, April 26th) at The Forum in Inglewood, CA. The card can be seen in the United States and in several countries internationally on digital streaming network DAZN beginning at 7:30PM ET/4:30PM PT. (U.S. Times) To subscribe to DAZN, availability around the world, list of connected streaming devices, and to start your free 30-day trial please visit: www.DAZN.com.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the card can be seen on Sky Sports Main Event (Formerly Sky Sports 1) beginning at 2:30AM (Saturday, April 27th. Local UK Time) For more information about Sky Sports, channel listings, and availability in your area please visit: www.skysports.com. Check your local listings internationally.
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