Wangek-Gonzalez II tops HBO 115-pound tripleheader Sept. 9
Roman Gonzalez will have the opportunity to avenge the lone defeat of his pro career.
He’ll mix it up with Wisaksil Wangek, also known as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, in a rematch of their 115-pound title fight Sept. 9, it was announced Saturday. The likely destination is Los Angeles, but the site hasn’t been finalized yet.
The junior bantamweight bout will headline a tripleheader featuring the five best 115-pounders in the world. The other bouts? The much-anticipated American debut of Japanese star Naoya Inoue in a title defense against Antonio Nieves, and a terrific matchup between Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada in the opener.
“I think it was a great fight the first time, Srisaket rose to the occasion,” Loeffler told RingTV.com. “It was controversial where many people thought Chocolatito did enough to retain his title, but that’s why the WBC ordered a rematch. (It’s) one of those fights fans are looking forward to seeing again.
“The great thing about the super flyweight division is that there’s so many great fighters at the top, interchangeably, and it should provide a lot of matchups for the division.”
Chocolatito, formerly recognized as THE RING’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, lost his status along with his perfect record in a highly controversial decision loss to Wangek in March. The native of Nicaragua was headbutted repeatedly and had to fight through a sea of blood, but most observers believed Gonzalez (46-1, 38 knockouts) earned a close nod.
The judges disagreed and handed the 30-year-old Thai fighter a majority decision.
“I’m honored to share the ring again and defend the WBC super flyweight title against Roman Gonzalez,” Wangek said in a statement. “He is a legend and the best fighter I have faced.”
“I’m training hard to be the winner of this rematch. Boxing fans around the world will get to see another great fight between us, and I will win and take the WBC world championship title back for everyone in Thailand.”
Gonzalez, 29, will get another crack at Wangek (43-4-1, 39 KOs) while also potentially setting up a much-bigger fight next year. That’s because Inoue – THE RING’s No. 10 pound-for-pound fighter – will finally showcase his immense talents on U.S. airwaves against Nieves (17-1-2, 9 KOs), a lightly regarded fighter from Cleveland.
Mexicans Cuadras and Estrada – both of whom lost close decisions to Gonzalez – round out THE RING’s junior bantamweight top five, along with Inoue, Wangek and Chocolatito, and will kick off the show with the winner mandated to meet the victor of Wangek-Gonzalez next.
The first meeting between Wangek and Gonzalez was wildly entertaining, with tons of furious exchanges, even if the action-packed brawl was marred by questionable scoring.
“I’m ready to go back into battle and reclaim my WBC super flyweight championship from Sor Rungvisai on Sept. 9,” said Chocolatito. “I know what I have to do to become victorious and with God’s help I will be champion once again.”
Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs) long has been the stuff of folklore in the U.S., much like Gonzalez before him. Finally, “The Monster” will make his American debut, and fans will able to see the special talent who already is a star in Japan.
“It’s been my dream to fight in the United States and I’m very excited to be defending my title against Antonio Nieves on Sept. 9,” said Inoue, 24. “I look forward to putting on a great performance for the fans.”
Cuadras (36-1-1, 27 KOs) gave Gonzalez all he could handle last September, but turned in a lackluster performance against David Carmona on the undercard of Wangek-Gonzalez. Now Cuadras will step up in competition again against a man considered to be one of the top 20 pound-for-pounders boxers in the world.
“He’s a very tough fighter but I will be victorious and put on a show for the fans,” Cuadras said, “then I want a fight with whoever is the champion, Chocolatito or Sor Rungvisai, to get my belt back.”
Estrada (35-2, 25 KOs) dropped a highly competitive decision to Gonzalez in 2012 at 108 pounds, and then went on to top Brian Viloria to become a unified titleholder at 112 pounds. Estrada made five successful defenses — including quality wins over Hernan Marquez, Giovani Segura and Milan Melindo — before he underwent hand surgery moved up to 115 pounds.
“Carlos Cuadras is a great champion and we will have a great fight,” Estrada said, “but he is just the first step towards me becoming the best super flyweight in the world!”
A tripleheader featuring the five best 115-pounders in the world? It’s a feat that would have been nothing more than a dream just three years ago.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger