Srisaket Sor Rungvisai: Gonzalez is great but not untouchable at 115 lbs
On Saturday, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai will challenge pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez for the WBC junior bantamweight crown.
Their contest takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will be co-feature to the middleweight showdown between Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs live on HBO Pay-Per-View at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Srisaket (41-4-1, 38 knockouts), a former WBC 115-pound titleholder who lost the belt to Carlos Cuadras three years ago, is understandably elated at the opportunity he has been granted.
“I feel amazing,” Srisaket (AKA Wisaksil Wangek) told RingTV.com through his promoter Thainchai Pisitwuttinan. “It has been my dream to fight in the U.S., especially at a legendary arena like Madison Square Garden. Everybody wants to go there. I know that all the world-class boxing celebrities wish to perform there. This is my dream come true.
“This is the opportunity for me to show the world my heart and my talent. Fighting for the WBC world title and fighting on HBO are the ultimate dream for all boxers around the world, and I am extremely excited for the fight.”
The 30-year-old Thai has been the WBC 115-pound mandatory challenger since knocking out Jose Salgado 22 months ago. He clearly respects Chocolatito’s abilities but feels he’s more accustomed to fighting at junior bantamweight.
“Roman Gonzalez is definitely a great fighter,” he said. “He is a boxing legend and also a national hero of Nicaragua. It is my dream and my goal to bring pride to Thailand and all Thais as well. Thailand is a nation of warriors and I want to demonstrate that to the world on March 18th.
“Roman is great, but he is not untouchable, especially at junior bantamweight. We saw that from his fight against Carlos Cuadras when Roman struggled and got hurt. I was able to hurt Cuadras in the way that Roman could not. My fight against Roman will definitely be an extremely competitive fight, and I worked my hardest every day to prepare for it.”
Srisaket previously held the WBC 115-pound strap for a year, from 2013-14. He won the title upsetting the well respected Yota Sato. The heavy-handed Thai lost the title to former Gonzalez opponent Cuadras – who is also scheduled to appear on the PPV – on a technical decision due to a cut over the Mexican’s left eye from a clash of heads.
However, try as he might, Srisaket couldn’t get the rematch he so deserved despite the unsatisfactory conclusion nature to the bout.
“I lost the belt last time due to an unfortunate accidental head clash,” he explained. “In the final eliminator and WBC Silver title fight, I also knocked out Jose Salgado, who just got a draw with Cuadras and was ranked No. 2 before fighting me. I did everything I could to land the opportunity. I am thankful for all the support from everyone that made this fight happen, especially the WBC. I will not waste this opportunity, and I will not make my supporters disappointed.”
In the near three-years since the Cuadras reverse, Srisaket has stayed busy, winning 14 consecutive fights, ending 13 inside the distance, showing his vaunted power that the popular Nicaraguan will have to be weary of.
However, since the Salgado fight, Srisaket hasn’t faced anyone of note. He’s unperturbed by this fact.
“Not at all,” he said dismissing this notion. “I have been sparring with top quality boxers regularly, and I have been fighting frequently. I spent every day thinking and preparing for the opportunity to fight for my belt back, so I am extremely ready. I am more motivated than ever, fresher than ever, and stronger than ever. I will show that in the ring.”
Srisaket has as usual prepared himself at the Nakornloung Promotion Gym on the outskirts of Bangkok, over 500 Km (310 miles) north east of his place of birth in Si Sa Ket. He claims camp has gone very well.
“I have had the best and most intense camp in my life,” he stated. “I ran 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) every morning and followed with 1-2 hours of training. Then I have another 2-3 hours training session in the afternoon. My team is helped me to be in the best shape of my life.”
He arrived in New York just over a week before the fight to acclimate to the new and very different surroundings, having traveled for almost a day from Bangkok to New York.
“It will be my first time in New York,” he said excitedly. “I heard many great things about it, and am very excited to be there.”
It’s a far cry from his humble beginning.
“My early life was extremely tough,” he explained. “We did not have enough money to feed ourselves, and I did Muay Thai to get extra money for my family.”
At 13 he traveled with his girlfriend to Bangkok, a journey that was fraught with danger: “I moved to Bangkok with nothing except a train ticket, which I lost on the train – forcing me to hide in the train as I did not have any money left to buy a new ticket.”
Things were equally tough when he arrived at his destination.
“When I was in Bangkok, I had to walk 60 miles back and forth to get a job as a security guard. Given that I had no money, I sometimes had to collect and eat garbage from trash cans behind department stores for my survival. A good day would be drinking soup from 5 cents instant noodle pack while giving all the noodles to my girlfriend who moved with me from Si Sa Ket.”
He’s come a long way since those times and if he’s that motivated and Gonzalez is anything but his best an upset could be on the cards.
His promoter Thainchai Pisitwuttinan is a big believer in his fighter whose priced as a 1/10 outsider with the bookmakers.
“I feel extremely grateful for this great opportunity,” the young promoter said respectfully. “I have to thank the WBC, HBO, and K2 Promotion that help made this fight becomes a reality as well as our local partners, especially BEC-Tero and M150, that have been excellent supporters of Srisaket’s career.
“My team and I have watched Chocolatito since he was a teenager training and fighting in Japan. We always knew he is special, and it has been an enjoyable journey following his career. We know his style very well because we not only watched his recent fights in the U.S. but we have seen his whole development from the beginning of his career. This will be beneficial for us as we know him inside-out. Come March 18, there will be no surprise on his style and what he can do.
“Srisaket is also special. He has above 90 percent KOs to win ratio, and that is simply crazy for someone with over 40 pro fights. I have never seen anyone in the smaller weight classes with the same punching power that Srisaket has. Every opponent that faced Srisaket got intimidated by the first punches that he landed on them, then he would quickly take over the fights. Chocolatito will be surprised by Srisaket’s power on March 18.
“I see a great and extremely entertaining fight between Chocolatito and Srisaket. It will be a war. The fans in Madison Square Garden and fans on PPV will be treating themselves with a potential fight of the year for 2017. Everyone knows that it will be the most difficult fight in Srisaket’s career as he will be facing the best in the world. However, what most people don’t know is that it will also be the most difficult fight in Chocolatito’s career as he will be facing one of the heaviest punchers in the sport.
“This fight will be marked in the history of Thailand. It will be the first time ever for a Thai fighter to fight against No. 1 boxer pound-for-pound. The fact that it is the co-main event on HBO PPV at Madison Square Garden will make it the biggest fight a Thai boxer has ever participate in. I am confident that Srisaket will pave the way for other top talents from Thailand with his victory against Chocolatito.”
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright