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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Sor Rungvisai-Estrada, Naoya Inoue, Donnie Nietes)

Sor Rungvisai (right) tags Estrada in their first battle. Photo: Twitter @HBOboxing
26
Feb

MODERN CLASSIC

First off, what a card! I hope HBO is hearing the fans loud and clear and continues to book the little guys in ways that set up future fights. “SuperFly2” was just a great night of boxing.

Juan Francisco Estrada vs Srisaket Sor Rungvisai was a modern classic; skillful violence, style contrast, and so many rounds just too close to call. These little guys are carving out a special little time frame in boxing history. Chocolatito vs Estrada, Cuadras and Rungvisai, Estrada vs Cuadras and Rungvisai, and even the cut short Cuadras vs Rungvsai. These fights are special and will go down in history. And there’s more to come!

Rungvisai is truly a unique fighter. Very rarely do you see an elite fighter who has so little interest in jabbing (Orlando Salido is the only other I can think of off the top of my head.) But Rungvisai is not a dumb fighter either; it was impressive seeing him stake his territory in the middle of the ring and then forcing Estrada to come to him so he counter and avoid rushing into Estrada’s traps. Not only that, his commitment to the body is amazing. Part of it seems to be the fact that he’s simply not deterred at all by countershots to his face as he blasts your midriff–he believes in his power and he’s more than willing to pay the price. His mentality reminds me of a funny little Richard Pryor bit about prime George Foreman and how hitting him just seems to turn him on. Rungvisai also reminded me of the Black Panther Vibranium suit, how it absorbs the energy of enemy blows and then builds it up for a kinetic blast. He’s definitely got a little Killmonger in him.



Estrada deserves praise too, he was in there with an absolute monster and he was fought his ass off. It must be so discouraging to hit a guy with some beauties the way he was doing and for the guy to just smile back and keep on coming. Some of those counter shots he landed were so crisp and clean, they would’ve buckled anyone else. Not only that, Estrada was (at least to my eyes) getting hurt almost every round. Every time Rungvisai hit him hard with the left he seemed to visibly stiffen, but he just kept boxing and never gave up. He even went for broke in the 12th and rocked the Thai tank. Estrada is a true Mexican warrior in the mold of Barrera, Morales, and Marquez; beautiful craft and a stout heart to go with it.

Last thing, McWiliams Arroyo looked great against Carlos Caudras and I assume he’ll likely be Rungvisai’s next opponent, but considering how sucked in he was looking at the weigh in, could you see an imminent move up to bantamweight for the Thai tank? You know where I’m going with this. And I think Rungvisai has earned the right to be favored over the Japanese phenom in a fight that would all but guarantee ultra violence. Bring on Rungvisai vs Inoue, with Estrada vs Arroyo as the supporting fight! – Jack

That’s a doubleheader I’d gladly buy tickets to see live and up close. However, I’d prefer Inoue-Sor Rungvisai take place at 115 pounds (provided both men can make the junior bantamweight limit without hurting their bodies). The “Thai Tank” (great nickname) just won THE RING’s 115-pound title. I’d be proud and honored to witness him defend it in the main event of “SuperFly3.” Speaking of which, HBO better not pass up on further showcasing this amazing round robin among sub-bantamweight standouts. To do so would be akin to the network passing up on the wonderful fight series that involved Junior Jones, Marco Antonio Barrera, Kennedy McKinney, Erik Morales and Naseem Hamed between 1996-2001 at 122 and 126 pounds, and later on the wonderful rivalries between Barrera, Morales, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez during the 2000s.

I’m glad real boxing fans like you are keeping track of what these amazing flyweights and super flys have done over the past five years. I considered Roman Gonzalez to be an elite boxer even before he faced Estrada in late 2012, and I thought he punched his ticket to the International Boxing Hall of Fame when he beat Cuadras, but it struck me how great Chocolatito truly is during the final press conference for SuperFly2 last Thursday. Looking at all the current and former titleholder assembled on the stage, I realized that Gonzalez fought five of them: Estrada, Cuadras, Sor Rungvisai, Arroyo and Brian Viloria. So-called fans that try to discredit his career accomplishments need to be slapped – hard.

Rungvisai is truly a unique fighter. Very rarely do you see an elite fighter who has so little interest in jabbing (Orlando Salido is the only other I can think of off the top of my head.) Prime Roy Jones Jr. comes to mind. And Jones possessed one-hitter-quitter power at 160 and 168 pounds, but he was still credited for his boxing skills, which is something that is sadly not always acknowledged with Salido and Sor Rungvisai.

But Rungvisai is not a dumb fighter either; it was impressive seeing him stake his territory in the middle of the ring and then forcing Estrada to come to him so he counter and avoid rushing into Estrada’s traps. Excellent observation, Jack. Against the suffocating pressure and volume punching of Gonzalez, the Thai Tank proved to possess relentless aggression backed by bone-jarring power. Against Estrada’s tenacious technique and versatile ring savvy, Sor Rungvisai proved to be calculating boxer-puncher. The Thai veteran’s experience and ring IQ should not be overlooked by the media or underrated by his opponents.

Not only that, his commitment to the body is amazing. Part of it seems to be the fact that he’s simply not deterred at all by countershots to his face as he blasts your midriff–he believes in his power and he’s more than willing to pay the price. That mentality and ability not only enables him to physically breakdown his opponents, but it seems to break their spirits. Although Chocolatito arguably won their first fight, it was obvious before and during their rematch that he did not want to step into the ring with SSR again. I’d never seen Estrada look as discouraged as he did in the middle rounds of Saturday’s fight, but credit to the Mexican standout for fighting through it and mounting that inspiring late rounds rally.

His mentality reminds me of a funny little Richard Pryor bit about prime George Foreman and how hitting him just seems to turn him on. Rungvisai also reminded me of the Black Panther Vibranium suit, how it absorbs the energy of enemy blows and then builds it up for a kinetic blast. He’s definitely got a little Killmonger in him. Wow, Jack. You managed to reference three of my favorite subjects in this analogy: great comedians, 1970s heavyweights and comic books. Well done!

Estrada deserves praise too, he was in there with an absolute monster and he was fought his ass off. Absolutely. I think he brought out the best in SSR, who proves that he’s an elite boxer with the hard-fought victory. Despite the loss, I still think Estrada is just outside the pound-for-pound top 10.

Not only that, Estrada was (at least to my eyes) getting hurt almost every round. That’s what I saw from press row.

Estrada is a true Mexican warrior in the mold of Barrera, Morales, and Marquez; beautiful craft and a stout heart to go with it. No greater praise than that.

 

SOR RUNGVISAI’S POWER UP CLOSE

Dear Mr. Fischer,

I wanted to write you about some of the commentary following the excellent headliner for Superfly 2. To qualify my position, I favored Estrada before the bout but scored the fight 115:113 for Sor Rungvisai.

Thinking about Sor Rungvisai having carried two of the cards against Chocolatito in their first fight, and seeing the (perhaps too) wide 117:111 card Saturday night, left me thinking that perhaps his power appears different from close up.

I mention this because he’s beaten two better-liked, more marketable champions. Chocolatito was the legitimate pound for pound king last year (and perhaps the best fighter of the preceding five years) and Estrada would have almost certainly cracked the upper echelon if he had won last night.

Sor Rungvisai beat them both. I don’t believe he deserve the nod against the Nicaraguan, and I’ve heard from a few people (not including those in attendance at The Forum) who thought he lost Saturday. I don’t think Estrada has nearly the bone to pick that Gonzales does, but I thought that maybe a ringside perspective might shed some light on the (perceived) problem.

Were you close to the action last night? Does Sor Rungvisai seem more powerful up close? Estrada was on his bicycle enough early for me to be convinced by Sor Rungvisai’s power, but I’m sitting at home. Is it totally reasonable that someone sitting ringside could have believed the Thai’s power was that effective against Gonzales to give him seven rounds? Is Steve Morrow deserving of scorn for not scoring rounds eight or nine for Estrada?

I’ll be very interested to see if Estrada pursues a rematch. Some part of me thinks he’ll seek more money elsewhere. I think anyone crazy enough to get into the ring with Wisaksil Wangek deserves mad props. Major Kudos to Estrada for fighting like he had something to lose after round seven. Chocolatito is still pound for pound in my heart.

I hope the demands of the job didn’t prevent you from enjoying another spectacular night of boxing. Thank you again for the coverage and the commentary. Very respectfully. – John

You’re most welcome, John. I was working hard at The Forum on Saturday night, writing and posting undercard and co-feature reports as the card unfolded but I still enjoyed the hell out of that awesome main event. It was very special to witness the tension in the ring immediately after the fight (just before the scorecards were announced) and then the unbridled emotion from Team Sor Rungvisai when he got the majority decision. (And then I had a wacky little adventure getting the generic RING title back from SSR that led me to the host hotel lobby, where I got to witness more fans and media appreciation for him and Estrada.) So, it was a memorable evening.

Regarding Sor Rungvisai’s ability to influence the judges with his punching prowess, you are absolutely correct in assuming that his damaging power is more evident live and up close than it appears on TV. The closer you are to it, the scarier it looks, which causes most observers (not just the official judges) to score close rounds for Sor Rungvisai. I was on press row for the first Gonzalez bout, but the media section was a lot further from the ring in Madison Square Garden than it usually is. I scored it for Chocolatito, as most of the ringside press did, but I knew of a lot of knowledgeable fans (including Mario Lopez) who were seated closer to the ring that believed that Sor Rungvisai deserved the victory. On Saturday, my press row table was pretty close to the ring and I had a good view of the action, and I thought Sor Rungvisai won five rounds in row (Round 3 through 7) not only because he was landing good, clean power shots but because those punches appeared to hurt Estrada every time they landed. 

Is it totally reasonable that someone sitting ringside could have believed the Thai’s power was that effective against Gonzales to give him seven rounds? It is reasonable. I don’t agree with that score but it’s not totally out of line.

Is Steve Morrow deserving of scorn for not scoring rounds eight or nine for Estrada? I don’t think so. I scored Round 8 and 9 for Estrada but I thought both rounds were hotly contested.

I’ll be very interested to see if Estrada pursues a rematch. I don’t think they necessarily need to do an immediate rematch but I believe the first fight was close and entertaining enough to merit a return bout in the near future (and I’m almost certain that HBO would want to air that sequel).

Some part of me thinks he’ll seek more money elsewhere. Who can Estrada fight for more money?

I think anyone crazy enough to get into the ring with Wisaksil Wangek deserves mad props. Absolutely, but please, let’s call him Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. That’s his fighting moniker. As HBO’s Jim Lampley astutely pointed out to me, referring to Sor Rungvisai as Wangek is akin to calling Sugar Ray Robinson “Walker Smith Jr.” or Jersey Joe Walcott “Arnold Cream.”

Major Kudos to Estrada for fighting like he had something to lose after round seven. Estrada is the real deal.

Chocolatito is still pound for pound in my heart. Gonzalez will always be the king. I’m gonna create a RING Pound-for-Pound champion emeritus belt for him made out of pure CHOCOLATE! Viva Chocolatito!

 

SUPERFLY2 DELIVERS

Hey Doug,

How lucky are we that these fights are being shown on HBO? Thanks to Tom Loeffler for putting on a great show and again to Chocolatito, who just like Chiquita Gonzalez and Michael Carbajal back in the ‘90s, brought attention to these small warriors.

Saturday night’s fights were from good to great. The card started out with a very interesting fighter that I’ve never paid attention to. Donnie Nietes is a crafty S.O.B. who seems to have mastered every trick in the book. The way he systematically broke down his opponent, even if one sided, was very compelling to watch.  Carlos Cuadras, who I like a lot as a person, was just overpowered and outlanded by a very impressive McWilliams Arroyo who seemed to have better use of distance and pacing. Cuadras uses a lot of energy in those early rounds and by the time the late rounds are in, he’s already gassed out. Good fight.

Then the main event, damn what a fight. That Thai Kid Sor Rungvisai is a helluva fighter! I was watching the first fight vs Chocolatito who most people saw it as a robbery, and I could tell most of us were more concentrated on what Roman was doing than what Rungvisai was achieving round after round. He definitely has a good argument that he legitimately won that fight and he did exactly the same vs Estrada, just a little bit better. He is just a patient and consistent stalker who is strong as hell. Estrada did land very good punches and was masterful in optimizing his energy output to have a lot left in the tank that would enable him to come back and close the gap on the scores but it was never enough as Rungvisais punches always seem to land cleaner and harder. Overall an awesome night of boxing with a candidate for fight of the year and round of the year (12th).

Who do you see Rungvisai fighting in Superfly 3? Does Mcwilliams Arroyo have a chance? I would definitely love to see that fight! Where does Naoya Inoue fit in the conversation? Is Chocolatito ever coming back?  Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Chocolatito might return on the Canelo-Golovkin II undercard.  

Nayoa Inoue bombs Antonio Nieves en route to sixth round stoppage. Photo / @HBOBoxing

Where The Monster fits in the conversation depends on what weight class he wants to campaign at in 2018. If Inoue can squeeze down to 115 pounds one more time, I’m sure HBO would make it worth his while to face Sor Rungvisai in the most anticipated 115-pound unification bout since Johnny Tapia took on Danny Romero in 1997. But if bantamweight is where it’s at for him, the talk is that he might face WBA 118-pound beltholder Jamie McDonnell in May. (Japanese insiders tell me that he’s been studying WBO bantamweight boss Zolani Tete for a long time.) I don’t envision any of the current SuperFly players stepping up in weight to fight Inoue, but Tom Loeffler told me that he’d welcome Inoue back on a future SuperFly show even if he’s at 118 pounds.  

Who do you see Rungvisai fighting in Superfly 3? I see him facing Estrada again in September at The Forum. (And if he does, you better not settle for watching it on TV, Juan. You better BE there!)

Does McWilliams Arroyo have a chance? Of course, he does. I think the Puerto Rican reminded everyone how solid he is by outpointing Cuadras on Saturday. And remember, he gave Chocolatito a good fight at 112 pounds (even though he had a shoe malfunction). Also keep in mind that Sor Rungvisai battles the scale, has had three hard camps and two grueling fight of the year candidates since the start of last year, so he could hit the proverbial wall in any fight.

Donnie Nietes is a crafty S.O.B. who seems to have mastered every trick in the book. Nietes is a pro’s pro who makes for quality boxing matchups. He hasn’t been a world titleholder (over three weight classes) for 10 years by accident. I’m glad he made a statement on HBO and I hope the network brings him back.

The way he systematically broke down his opponent, even if one sided, was very compelling to watch. I agree. I have no idea why The Forum crows was booing the early rounds of the Reveco fight. Neither veteran was trying to stink it out. They came to box and fight and Nietes was the better man.

Carlos Cuadras, who I like a lot as a person, was just overpowered and outlanded by a very impressive McWilliams Arroyo who seemed to have better use of distance and pacing. I agree. Arroyo presented the same problem for Cuadras that Estrada did last September – he has the better fundamentals and technique and he’s too focused to allow Cuadras to frustrate or intimidate him. Arroyo also put forth a greater punch output than we’re used to seeing from him. I also think Cuadras was overlooking or underestimating him.

Cuadras uses a lot of energy in those early rounds and by the time the late rounds are in, he’s already gassed out. Good fight. I thought it was legitimately close, but the right man won. Cuadras didn’t get the leverage on his punches that Arroyo did and his technique really fell off over the second half of the fight.

Then the main event, damn what a fight. It’s nice when an anticipated matchup lives up to expectations, isn’t it?

That Thai Kid Sor Rungvisai is a helluva fighter! He destroyed one of my beloved fighters (Chocolatito) and bested a little badass that I have a lot of respect for (and picked to win) in “El Gallo,” but in doing so he’s become one of my current favorites. The Thai Soul Taker delivers action and drama. It’s been an honor to watch his last three bouts live.

He is just a patient and consistent stalker who is strong as hell. He’s also a lot smarter than we gave him credit for. He controlled the middle rounds against a boxing master on Saturday.

Estrada did land very good punches and was masterful in optimizing his energy output to have a lot left in the tank that would enable him to come back and close the gap on the scores but it was never enough as Rungvisai’s punches always seem to land cleaner and harder. That’s how I saw it and that’s why I scored it 115-113 for SSR. (I scored Rounds 1, 2, 8, 9 and 12 for Estrada.)

 

IS SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI POUND FOR POUND NO. 1?

Hello, Doug!

I have a question today.

Am I crazy if I say Srisaket Sor Rungvisai should be the PFP king?

I think his last two victories are comparable to anything that the other elite fighters have done recently.

Mythical matchups:

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Gilberto Roman

SSR vs Khaosai Galaxy

SSR vs Jiro Watanabe

SSR vs Johnny Tapia

SSR vs Vic Darchinyan

Cheers. – Taku from Japan

Those are sensational super flyweight/junior bantamweight mythical matchups, Taku. They would all be hotly contested, which should tell you good Sor Rungvisai has proven to be.

Sor Rungvisai with his WBC and RING Magazine 115-pound titles. Photo / Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / 360 Promotions

I’ll go with Gilberto Roman by close, maybe majority decision in a great fight, Watanabe by close but unanimous decision, Galaxy by late stoppage in an absolutely savage fight (if fought in their native Thailand) and Sor Rungvisai over Galaxy by split decision outside of Thailand, Tapia by controversial split or majority decision, and Sor Rungvisai over Darchinyan by hard-fought unanimous decision in a classic showdown between supremely confident boxer-punchers.

Am I crazy if I say Srisaket Sor Rungvisai should be the PFP king? If you are, at least you’ve got company with Ring Ratings Panel member Adam Abramowitz, who has suggested on his Twitter account and to the other panelists that SSR go all the way to No. 1 for the very same reason you think the Thai destroyer should be P4P King.

I think his last two victories are comparable to anything that the other elite fighters have done recently. You have a point, Taku, but the pound-for-pound rankings can also take a fighter’s entire career into consideration. I think Sor Rungvisai definitely deserves to move up from his current No. 10 spot in THE RING’s pound-for-pound rankings. How far up, I’m not sure. This is something the Ratings Panel is currently debating.

 

SOR RUNGVISAI, NIETES AND THE ASIAN POWERS

Hi Doug,

The fight last weekend was a blast and it only shows that Sor Rungvisai’s win against Choco wasn’t a fluke as Estrada is in his prime and everyone including all the knowledgeable boxing pundits were choosing Estrada to win. Estrada could not even move Sor Rungvisai. That Asian guy must’ve been built of bricks. The way they fought kinda made me remember flashes of the first Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight (lefty brawler vs technician) although there wasn’t any 3 knockdowns here.

BTW, what are your thoughts on Nietes fighting Sor Rungvisai for Superfly 3? Think of The Ring’s 115-pound Champ versus The Ring’s 112-pound Champ. As much as I’d like to see Sor Rungvisai do a unification with Kal Yafai or another Filipino, Jerwin Ancajas, I’d love to match him with Nietes since he could enhance Sor Rungvisai’s name (more than a decade as champion and another Ring Champ).

I thought that when Pac retires or semi-retires, it would be difficult to get another Asian fighter to come up on top. Speaking of Asian fighters, who are the best Asian fighters you remember who gave the best fights in any division? And who are the Asian contenders/champ/new fighters right now you’d think would do a big role in the future of boxing? Thanks – DjBiancafrost, MNL, Phils.

Right now, I think Naoya Inoue, Sor Rungvisai, Ryota Murata, Ancajas and Daigo Higa are the Asian fighters who can make the most noise in their homelands and worldwide. Among the Asian fighters who “gave the best fights” that I recall are Pacquiao (of course), Luisito Espinosa (a woefully underrated Filipino boxer-puncher who held world titles at 118 and 126 pounds), Gerry Penalosa (Pinoy Power, baby!), Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (the “Japanese Gatti” who I watched duke it out with Victor Rabanales and hall of famer Daniel Zaragoza on the Spanish-language channels during the ‘90s), Muangchai Kittikasem (Thai 108- and 112-pound beltholder that Michael Carbajal beat on network TV for his first world title, and who I also watched on Spanish channels ), perennial Thai featherweight/130-pound title challenger Terdsak Jandaeng (who went to war with Juan Manuel Marquez and Orlando Salido), and my favorite active gatekeeper Yoshihiro Kamegai. Asian action fighters that I saw fight live once include Saman Sorjaturong (vs. Chiquita Gonzalez in Inglewood) and Katsushige Kawashima (vs Cristian Mijares in Tokyo).

What are your thoughts on Nietes fighting Sor Rungvisai for Superfly 3? I’d be into it, but I’d rather Nietes fight WBC flyweight titleholder Daigo Higa for the vacant RING 112-pound title first.

Think of The Ring’s 115-pound Champ versus The Ring’s 112-pound Champ. Actually, Nietes was THE RING’s 108-pound champ. He just holds the IBF belt at flyweight.

 

SOR RUNGVISAI VS. INOUE

Hey Doug,

Thanks again so much to you and Mr. Tom Loeffler for making the weekend’s fights available to us here in the UK. Tom is clearly the top promoter in boxing in terms of putting the fans first.

Loved the main event on Saturday. Srisaket was a deserved winner in my eyes against another outstanding fighter.

Two quick questions –

Does Sor Rungvisai move up your pound for pound list off the back of last night’s performance? No one can match his results against such ridiculously good opposition in the last year or so.

Secondly, if they fought each other next, who would you pick between him and the other Monster, Nayoa Inoue? Can’t think of a better match up in boxing right now to be honest.

Thank you again for the mailbags, which I’ve been following religiously since the MaxBoxing days, and for all the work you do for us fans. – Ross, Norwich, UK

Thank you for the kind words, Ross. Most of the thanks for the UK “SuperFly2” stream on RingTV.com must go to Loeffler and to HBO.

Does Sor Rungvisai move up your pound for pound list off the back of last night’s performance? Of course! I can see him move as high as No. 5 or 6.

Dream Fight: Inoue vs. Sor Rungvisai

Secondly, if they fought each other next, who would you pick between him and the other Monster, Nayoa Inoue? I would pick The Monster. I think he’s grown into the naturally bigger fighter, he’s very good at fighting at a distance, deadly accurate with the poser punchers, he’s a body snatcher and he’s the younger, fresher man just now coming into his athletic peak. I think the Japanese star can win a clear decision. But keep in mind that I picked Gonzalez (twice) and Estrada to beat Sor Rungvisai. He could very well prove me wrong again against The Monster.

Can’t think of a better match up in boxing right now to be honest. That’s a bona fide Dream Fight.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer

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