If you’re a fan of alliterative metaphors relating to body size and/or learning every conceivable variation of the word “diminutive,” HBO has got a treat for you this weekend. Jim Lampley’s synonym game is rivaled only by his crying-at-everyday-occurrences game and you can bet both will be on display this Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Oh, and there will also be some really tiny men punching each other if you’re into that sort of thing.
At the top of HBO’s ever-dwindling list of good ideas is their somewhat recent decision to begin prominently featuring the lower weight classes. Prior to the HBO debut of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez on Mar. 24, 2015, the nether weights had been largely ignored by mainstream cable outlets. Chocolatito’s emergence and ensuing popularity proved to the masses what knowledgeable fans had been screaming for years – some of the best and most exciting fighters in boxing can be found in the anklebiter weight classes.
The resistance to the moppet divisions has always been confusing to me. It seems to stem from a perception that smaller men can’t crack, which simply shows a fundamental lack of understanding toward punching power, boxing and, well, the laws of physics themselves. In boxing, power is largely based on relativity. It’s why weight classes exist in the first place. A welterweight has significantly more power relative to a flyweight. However, if a heavyweight moves in on that same welterweight’s wife, he may end up raising a family of large, biracial children. Just ask Amir Khan.
A 115 pound man may not sound scary to a fat bastard like yourself, but to another 115 pound man it’s full speed combat fought at the highest skill level. Good fights are good fights, regardless of weight, but we happen to be smack-dab in the middle of a tadpole weight golden age. Let’s take a look at the halflings Superfly 2 has in store for us this Saturday night.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Juan Francisco Estrada
Beating the best pound for pound fighter alive will get you into into the fighter of the year conversation pretty quick. Beating him twice in the same calendar year ends that conversation even quicker. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KO) defeated the aforementioned Chocolatito Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KO) by somewhat controversial majority decision in March of 2017. Their rematch last September headlined HBO’s inaugural Superfly card and Srisaket’s crushing fourth round knockout of Gonzalez proved his victory in their first match was no fluke.
Whether Chocolatito was shot or Srisaket just has his number is irrelevant. His sensational knockout of the Nicaraguan legend marked the beginning of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai as must-see-TV. His combination of speed, power, and frightening killer instinct are as fan friendly as they come. On Saturday he’ll be putting his potent skill set on display against the equally equipped Juan Francisco Estrada of Sonora, Mexico.
Estrada (36-2, 25 KO) earned his shot at Srisaket by eking out a razor thin unanimous decision over tough with a capital “T” Carlos Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KO) on the first Superfly card on Sep. 9, 2017. Cuadras gave Estrada all he could handle in the first half of the fight, switch hitting and doing damage on the outside. Estrada eventually closed the gap and even put Cuadras down with a short right hand in the 10th round en route to a 114-113 victory across the board. He showed remarkable poise and patience in clawing his way back into the fight. He’ll need every ounce of that resolve to weather the onslaught of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. For his part, Srisaket will need to come with a plan A, B and C as Estrada is adept at adjusting his fight plan to his opponent’s and making changes on the fly. On paper, this is as good as it gets. Highly skilled veterans with power, speed and a whole lot to prove.
Prediction: Estrada banks the early quarter of the fight as Srisaket lies in wait. Once he turns up his attack Estrada doesn’t have the guns to keep him off and ultimately Srisaket earns a late round stoppage in a back and forth fight.
Carlos Cuadras vs McWilliams Arroyo
You could drape two department store mannequins in Mexican and Puerto Rican flags respectively, and a fight is still going to break out between them. Of the fiercest rivalries in boxing, Mexico vs Puerto Rico is up there with Tyson Fury vs his FitBit, and Chris Algieri vs his parents on laundry day. Yeah, it’s that intense. In this particular instance it pits Cuadras of Sinaloa, Mexico against McWilliams Arroyo (16-3, 14 KO) of Ceiba, Puerto Rico.
As we mentioned, Cuadras is coming off a loss to Juan Francisco Estrada last September on the first Superfly card and to Chocolatito a year prior. Both were close, respectable losses that should do nothing to diminish his standing in the eyes of the boxing world. Cuadras is that rare type of fighter who has the look, style and attitude to become a star, regardless of the number in his loss column.
Apart from sounding like a discarded Quentin Tarantino character, McWilliams Arroyo will be no walk in the park for Cuadras. His record may not be eye-popping but two of his three losses came against lunatic Thai fighter Amnat Ruenroeng (18-2, 6KO) and most recently against Chocolatito in March of 2016, back when simply going the distance with him was a badge of honor in itself. What he lacks in a shiny win/loss ratio he makes up for in amateur experience and punching power, with only two of his sixteen victims hearing the final bell.
Though Arroyo has earned his right to be here with a nice run through the Lilliputian ranks, it would be quite a misstep here for Cuadras to come up short.
Prediction: Cuadras starts fast and never lets up. Nervous energy and over-excitement lead to a few scary moments as Arroyo gets his shots in but it isn’t enough. By the late rounds Cuadras is showboating and walks home with a wide unanimous victory.
Donnie Nietes vs. Juan Carlos Reveco
For a guy most people outside of hardcore boxing circles have never heard of, Donnie Nietes has done some shit. His only defeat in 45 professional fights came in 2004 to Angky Angkotta who weighed in at 114 lbs for a light flyweight fight, six pounds over the limit. To put that in perspective, that’s 5.5% of his body weight. A cruiserweight coming in that heavy would be carrying an extra 11.1 lbs on him, or approximately one of Chris Arreola’s stool samples. As long as we have our calculators out let’s crunch some more numbers. 2004 was almost 14 years ago. In that time Nietes joined Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire as the only three-time Filipino belt holders as well as surpassing Flash Elorde as The Philippines’ longest reigning title holder. Know what else he did in those 14 years? Age to 35 years old, which basically makes him a senior citizen in the pigmy weight classes. Though coming off a UD of Komgrich Nantapech last April, Nietes is at the point of his career where father time can Kool-Aid Man his way through the wall at any moment. If that happens on Saturday night, Juan Carlos Reveco will be there to soak him up. (Segue of the year and it’s only February)
Reveco (39-3, 19 KO) of Argentina is also coming off a unanimous decision of Komgrich Nantapech last September with a slightly wider margin of victory on the scorecards than Nietes. So in a world where all fighter comparisons are done by who did better against god damn Komgrich Nantapech I guess you’d have to give the upper hand to Reveco. Unfortunately Komgrich Nantapech won’t be in the ring on Saturday night so they’ll have to settle this the old fashioned way by fighting each other. Time could catch up with either one as they’ll be a combined age of 69 (nice) on fight night. They also have a combined 89 fights, 620 rounds, and a nearly identical knockout ratio hovering around 47% so a tactical 12 round fight is likely in order here.
Prediction: Nietes keeps his hands to himself for as long as he can while he figures out what he’s up against. Reveco is forced to take chances and in turn creates opening for Nietes. It may not be exciting but Nietes walks away with the close decision.
The glory of the dwarf weights will be on full display this Saturday and you’d be wise to tune in. Superfly 1 more than lived up to the hype and this one should be no different. It’s high time the masses learned the lesson we all did back in Ricardo Lopez’s prime: If you smell cabbage, don’t run away. Just look down. There’s likely to be a damn good fight happening down there.