SAN DIEGO, July 25, 2017 – Forty-five years ago this week, R&B singer/songwriter and producer Curtis Mayfield released the soundtrack to the movie “Superfly,” nimbly narrating a socially relevant story about drugs, crime, and poverty. It was a massive success and became an instant classic, memorable to this day.
Like its namesake, the September 9 boxing card nicknamed “Superfly” assembles the greatest super flyweight boxing talent ever, joining forces to become its own massive success and instant classic. Credit HBO Vice President of Sports Peter Parker for coming up with the fitting name.
Tickets are nearing a sell-out at the StubHub Center in Carson, California for the “Superfly” event, a de facto tournament featuring three bouts with top ten talent and a fourth bout with a former champion looking to get back in the title hunt.
Leading the way in the main event, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaragua (46-1, 38 KOs) gets his chance to exact revenge for his only career loss in March, a narrow and hotly disputed decision in favor of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand (42-4-1, 38 KOs).
Should Gonzalez prevail, he is also likely to retake the top spot on the pound for pound best list. But he doesn’t appear to be feeling any pressure. For the first time in many fights, Gonzalez appeared in high spirits with positive energy at a recent news conference to promote the bout.
Gonzalez is training in Japan with his new trainer, Sendai Tanaka. Tanaka, who trained Gonzalez several years ago, replaced the late Arnulfo Obando, who died in November of a brain aneurysm. Tanaka worked with Gonzalez in 2014 for his third title defense. It seems to be a good fit and a timely reboot for Chocolatito.
“I come looking for the knockout,”said Gonzalez. “I come with a lot of hunger, with a lot of hope, to go back home to Nicaragua with my championship. With my team, we’re going to work very hard and we’re ready to come back.”
Former world champion Carlos “El Principe” Cuadras of Mexico (30-1-1, 27 KOs), currently ranked third in the division, faces his countryman and former world champion Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2, 25 KOs). The winner becomes the WBC mandatory challenger for the winner of the Gonzalez vs. Rungvisai rematch.
The charismatic Cuadras didn’t disappoint with his remarks. “When I heard that I was in a fight with Gallo Estrada, I got very excited, because everyone knows I always want to fight the best … there’s no doubt Estrada is one of them. I know he’s a real good fighter, but I’ve got his medicine right here in my right hand. I came to fight the best. Gallo, you’re not a little chick, so I hope you come ready,” laughed Cuadras.
Estrada is focused and no-nonsense about his opportunity. “I consider myself a real true warrior, a guy that comes to fight, a guy that can box, that can do a lot of things in the ring … Obviously, I’m rooting for Chocolatito to win his fight, because I think everyone wants to see us fight again … I hope that Cuadras really trains for himself and gets ready for the fight, because he’s never faced someone as good as I am. I’m looking forward to that.”
The man currently sitting on top of the division makes his long anticipated U.S. debut. Undefeated Naoya “Monster” Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs) will defend his title against American prospect Antonio Nieves of Cleveland, Ohio (17-1-2, 9 KOs). Nieves is coming off a narrow split decision loss, the only one of his career. This is the chance of a lifetime for Nieves, and he goes in speaking with confidence about “ruining” Inoue’s American debut, saying he’s faced questionable opposition to date. Attitude goes a long way when you’re the underdog.
Added to the card is fan favorite Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria (35-7, 22 KOs) of Hawaii, America’s top ranked super flyweight returning to the ring after an absence following his ninth round knockout loss to Gonzalez at 112 pounds in November 2015. Since then, Viloria won a unanimous decision against Ruben Montoya in March. The 36-year-old veteran is a former World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight champion, and an International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Council (WBC) light flyweight titleholder. Viloria’s opponent is yet to be named.
Six of the world’s top ten ranked boxers in the division, plus an American prospect hungry to make a statement who have a combined 68 percent knockout rate. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting, fan-friendly fight card with high stakes for every athlete involved. Wins clear the way to the top; losses risk dropping like a rock.
“Superfly, you gonna make your fortune by and by. But if you lose don’t ask no questions why. Only game you know is do or die.” – Curtis Mayfield
The athletes know the risks, and they relish the opportunity. At a recent news conference in Los Angeles featuring many of the participants, trainers, and promoters, promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions said, “These fights really bring back the highlight we had with Michael Carvajal against Chiquita Gonzalez here in Los Angeles. This show is really in honor to those guys what they did and blazed the trail. The spotlight is on the smaller weights again.”
The five-time flyweight champion, Carjaval was the first fighter in one of the smallest weight divisions to earn a $1 million purse for a fight for his battle against Gonzalez at the Fabulous Forum on March 13, 1993. Carvajal survived two knockdowns to deliver a knockout victory, unifying the division in what was called the Fight of the Year; Carvajal was named the 1993 Fighter of the Year. Gonzalez and his competitors have proven worth successors.
Gonzalez and his competitors have proven worth successors. These modern super flyweights possess all the power of the best heavyweights, the aggression of middleweights, and the speed few other boxers can begin to match. It’s the perfect recipe proving it’s the size of the fight in the dog, and not the size of the dog in the fight.
It’s not the job of the boxing media to promote a fight. It’s the role of the promoter. But boxing journalists represent the fans as their voice; we are fans, too. When a fight is worth your investment of time and money, it’s vital we communicate this to you. So hear me now: if you have the opportunity to attend this card, do not pass it up. It’s worth a trip from anywhere.
For the rest of the boxing audience, mark your calendar for September 9 and tell your family and friends not to bother you. You’ve got some fights to watch.
“Superfly” airs on HBO Boxing on Saturday, September 9, at 10:15 pm ET/PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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