Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Why Sor Rungvisai-Estrada Might Be Boxing’s Next Great Trilogy

A question that gets asked from time to time to yours truly is just what are the ingredients that make a good rematch. Such a question is normally asked by someone with a sporadic/casual interest in Boxing and by extension all combat sports. Although not every circumstance that leads to s rematch are identical, there are a few things as I have said over the years that stand out clearly that warrant a rematch or at least some elements that could lead to an eventual return encounter down the line.

What are those elements that are not always considered by the average person/Boxing fan when they think of what warrants or could lead to an eventual rematch? Elements such as a fighter who has a title shot and loses, but works their way back into world title contention and earns a mandatory title shot at the fighter that defeated them and/or things like a cancellation of another fight could lead to a rematch occurring. While circumstances like this are not always what leads to rematches, it has happened throughout Boxing history.

The elements/ingredients that lead to s rematch that most are familiar with are things like controversial outcomes, which can involve the subject of a referee’s stoppage/officiating or the judges’ scoring of a fight. There are times however, where what leads to w rematch can simply be summed up as Oscar De La Hoya said following his first fight with Shane Mosley in June 2000, “A great fight deserves another great rematch.”

The February 2018 encounter between WBC Jr. Bantamweight world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada was one bout that did not have the element of a  controversial stoppage, but did have s healthy difference of opinion as to who won at the conclusion of the twelve round Jr. Bantamweight world championship fight. What was one of the better fights of 2018 was reason enough for a second meeting between the two.

A rematch that took place on April 26th at the site of their first meeting, The Forum in Inglewood, CA. The primary question that is often asked prior to a rematch is which fighter will be able to improve on their performance from the last fight. A more specific way of asking that question is which fighter will be able to make the tactical adjustments necessary to ensure their success in the rematch.

In large part, that question was answered immediately as the challenger Estrada fought at a higher pace than he had in the first encounter and simply brought the fight to Sor Runvisai. Although he used significant lateral movement in the first fight, Estrada was able to largely avoid being pressured by the champion in this rematch by giving angles and throwing combinations of punches. Estrada was also able to avoid getting hit with much of the champion’s offense throughout the fight.

Despite being more effective fighting out of a southpaw stance, Sor Rungvisai spent much of the second fight fighting out of an orthodox stance. Whether or not this tactical adjustment was an attempt by the champion to present Estrada with a new look perhaps with the mindset that Estrada would be more prepared for a southpaw attack this time as compared to the first encounter, it was not successful as the challenger frequently got the better of the exchanges and controlled the ebb and flow of the combat throughout most of the fight.

Although unlike the first encounter, a majority decision victory for Sor Rungvisai, the second encounter resulted in a unanimous decision by convincing margins for Estrada, it was a highly competitive fight that now leaves the door open for a third installment. While some may say that a convincing unanimous decision would make a third fight unnecessary this observer disagrees.

Throughout Boxing history, many of the great series of fights between two fighters have had varying outcomes. From the second encounter between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, to the second encounter between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, to the, you guessed it,  second encounter between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, all of those bouts had a clear winner, but left a chapter still to be written. The third fight. 

Many within the sport whether they be fighters, trainers, broadcasters, and/or those who cover it like yours truly have said that there are times where the third installment between two fighters can often be the best of the series. Of course, there are the rare exceptions where a series of fights carries on beyond a trilogy, but for most a trilogy settles unfinished business.

With twenty-four completed rounds over two exciting fights between Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai with each fighter holding a win over each other, the ingredients for a trilogy are certainly there. Whether or not a third fight between the two takes place in the near future is anyone’s guess, but this observer feels it is important that a third encounter between the two take place.

Why is it important? Beyond the obvious of determining who would win the series of fights between the two assuming that the third encounter would be the final time the two would face each other, it is important that the fight take place in order to continue to shine the spotlight on some of Boxing’s lower weight classes that do not always receive the recognition they deserve much in the same way that legends Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzalez were able to elevate the lower weight divisions of the sport during their respective careers and during their trilogy of fights in the 1990’s. As Carbajal and Gonzalez eventually retired, the spotlight for the lower weight classes was not the same. While there still were great fighters in the lower weight divisions, who from time to time would receive valuable television exposure, often fighting on undercards of major pay-per-view attractions it was rare at least as far as the United States is concerned to see those weight classes showcased in a position where they were the main attraction.

Although yours truly has always been of the opinion that the fighters in the lower weight classes from the 105lb. Minimumweight division up the scale through the Light-Flyweight, Flyweight Jr. Bantamweight, and Bantamweight divisions are just as deserving of the television exposure here in the United States as has been enjoyed regularly from the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division on up the scare through Boxing’s remaining weight classes of seventeen total divisions, it has not always happened. Much like the landscape of how the sport is broadcast is changing, in my eyes for the better, so too does the mindset of promoters and network platforms about only airing fighting in Boxing’s lower weight classes on a sporadic basis need to chang.  While I remain firm in my stance that the pay-per-view medium needs to be done away with for the good of the sport and it’s fans, this observer also believes strongly that in order for true growth for the sport to take place and to draw more interest, all weight classes should receive airtime on a regular basis.

While some may laugh at both of those stances, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada have served as the latest example of why showcasing the lower weight classes in the sport is important. To not do it beyond an occasional/sporadic basis would be to deny the Boxing fan who supports the sport tirelessly access to see some of the best fighters in the sport below 122lbs. compete. More importantly it denies those fighters a crucial opportunity to not only take advantage of the exposure the television and streaming mediums provide, but more specifically, the opportunity to potentially earn more money, which is a goal of every fighter who steps into the ring. While the sport is moving more towards a subscription-based streaming model over the traditional pay-per-view and traditional television mediums, there also remains room for improvement in other areas of the sport. Why not use some of the finances that have been heavily invested in the sport in recent times to focus more attention on Boxing’s lower weight classes and hopefully in the process develop new stars, which can serve both those who have invested significantly in Boxing like DAZN and ESPN’s ESPN+ digital network, but also the sport long-term as well as the fans that support it?

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter:

No comments:

Post a Comment