Estrada back in the spotlight, comes full circle since Gonzalez loss
Back on Nov. 17, 2012, Juan Francisco Estrada lost a close decision to defending junior flyweight titleholder Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. It was an action-filled bout that delighted the thousands in attendance at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles or watching the fight on television in Mexico.
Gonzalez would later become a household name with even casual boxing fans, winning belts in a total of four weight classes and becoming a staple on HBO.
Even though Estrada walked out of the ring on that rainy night in Los Angeles without his arm raised in victory, he ended up being a “winner” in the long run.
Many fighters could drift into to obscurity after a loss, especially those who travel to the United States. That was not Estrada, who won two flyweight titles in his next fight with a split decision over Brian Viloria and defended them five times, gradually positioning himself to fight in the U.S. again.
Estrada will attempt to win two more belts when he challenges Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for the RING and WBC junior bantamweight titles Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The 12-round fight will headline a three-bout “SuperFly 2” card on HBO (9:30 p.m. ET/ 6:30 p.m. PT).
Estrada (36-2, 25 knockouts), who will turn 28 on April 14, has put together an impressive resume thus far, including his last bout, when he made his return to the U.S. with a unanimous decision over Carlos Cuadras on Sept. 9.
Estrada has won his last 10 bouts since the loss to Gonzalez, including victories over Hernan “Tyson” Marquez, Milan Melindo and Giovani Segura. In Sor Rungvisai he will face a fighter who has won his last 17 bouts, including two victories over Gonzalez to put him on THE RING’s pound-for-pound list.
“He has done very well for himself,” Estrada told THE RING over the phone. “I’ve had a great training camp. I know what is at stake and the quality of opponent I have in front of me. I’m also prepared to give the people in attendance and those watching on television a good show.”
Estrada jumped at the chance to fight Gonzalez in 2012, but it wasn’t without sacrifice. Not only did Estrada give an excellent account of himself, winning most of the rounds during the second half of the fight, but he did so at the lowest weight he had ever fought.
“People don’t realize how little energy I had, and I was fighting the best at that weight in Gonzalez,” said Estrada, who is promoted by Zanfer Promotions and managed by Juan Hernandez. “I went down in weight. It was a calculated risk my team and I made, but many people came away impressed by my performance against Gonzalez.”
He will have his hands full Saturday night, but he welcomes the challenge that awaits.
“I know it’s a difficult fight for me. (Sor Rungvisai) scored two big victories against (a fighter) many thought was the best at 115 pounds. Many people tell me that his style is made for me. I can box or brawl if I need to, but my main goal is to do the best I can to defeat the Thai fighter.”
Estrada has come a long way, literally and figuratively, since the Gonzalez fight. He has been able to make the most of the opportunities that have come his way.
Saturday night will be no different.
“I know the fans in attendance will be rooting for me and I will feed off of that. At the same time, I have my game plan to implement on Saturday night.
“I value and appreciate the opportunities I’m given. I was able to perform to my best against Cuadras on HBO and here I am again fighting on the network. I’m going to give it my best and demonstrate that I can fight and defeat the best fighters at 115 pounds.”
Francisco A. Salazar can be reached by email at [email protected] and on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing