CARSON, Calif., September 9, 2017 – Boxing fans want to see the best fighting the best, and it doesn’t get better than the top two fighters in a division squaring off with plenty to prove.
In their long awaited rematch, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand (43-4-1, 39 KOs) proved his first victory was not a fluke with a definitive fourth round knockout win over pound for pound phenomenon Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaragua (46-2, 38 KOs). Rungvisai retained his WBC super flyweight title. He will now face the WBC mandatory challenger Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico after his victory earlier in the evening over countryman Carlos Cuadras.
Both Gonzalez and Rungvisai carried the hopes of their respective nations, Nicaragua and Thailand, on their shoulders. Both had promised not to let their many fans watching at home down. Rungvisai, a national hero in Thailand after his first defeat of Gonzalez, only increased his stature at home with the second defeat and the first ever knockout suffered by Gonzalez in his career.
“I have showed the world I’m number one at 115 pounds,” said Rungvisai after the bout. “I think the way I fought with Roman Gonzalez today should eliminate all doubts anybody has.”
Rungvisai’s narrow decision win in March raised some eyebrows by critics, many who felt the headbutt marred fight swung the decision his way. Not this time. Rungvisai came out aggressively from the opening bell. Through the first few rounds Rungvisai was controlling the action with the attitude of a champion. Gonzalez seemed a step behind. Rungvisai was the faster, more accurate puncher. Through the first three rounds, Gonzalez tried to find an entry point, and was unsuccessful.
In the fourth round, Rungvisai sent a shock wave through the StubHub Center as he landed an overhand right early in the round, sending Gonzalez to the canvas. He beat referee Tom Taylor’s count but with two minutes left in the round, Rungvisai had a lot of time. He went after Gonzalez with a determination for a definitive ending no one could question this time. At 1:18 of the round, he fired a short check hook, and Gonzalez was down for good, the fight immediately over.
Gonzalez left the ring under his own power, but was taken to a hospital to be examined. After the bout, Rungvisai said he’d like to see Gonzalez, and tell him how sorry he was. “We are both athletes,” he explained.
Rungvisai said after losing his title originally to Carlos Cuadras in 2014, it was a long wait for another chance at a championship fight. “I waited for three years, and that’s why I’m grateful for the opportunity to fight Roman Gonzalez. That’s why I’m Srisiskat Sor Rungvisai today.
“I’m very proud because I hope I inspired all the Thais, we Thais are as good as any people in the world.”
Father Time may have caught up with Roman Gonzalez. Whatever path he takes after Saturday, his legacy as a Hall of Fame boxer and one of the greatest small division fighters in history remains untarnished. Every fighter on the “Superfly” card owes him a debt of gratitude for igniting interest in the smaller division fighters.
In the co-main event, Naoya “Monster” Inoue (14-0, 12 KOs) did not disappoint American fans with a spectacular performance against the game American prospect Antonio Nieves of Cleveland, Ohio (17-2-2, 9 KOs). After thoroughly dominating the bout, Nieves’ trainer Joe Delguyd wisely called a half to the fight after six brutally tough rounds, a smart and humane decision on their fighter’s behalf. Inoue retained his WBO super flyweight title.
Fans have heard about Inoue’s talent for several years on the way to two world titles in just eight professional fights. This was Inoue’s debut in the U.S. and his first professional fight outside of Tokyo, Japan. Not only was it critical for Inoue to win, it was critical for him to make a memorable first impression on the North American audience watching on HBO Boxing After Dark’s broadcast. He did.
“My American debut, I was able to complete seven rounds and have a successful finish,” said Inoue. “I wanted a more spectacular finish, but I hope to do so in my future fights. I’d like to keep performing well like I did tonight.” Inoue said he planned to go up in weight divisions in the future.
Inoue is lightning fast, with a jab so swift and accurate it sears his opponents like a laser beam. As Nieves was trying to figure out how to avoid it, Inoue began his assault to the body. He punches so hard, driving up from the feet with maximum leverage, it makes everyone in the audience watching flinch. The sell out crowd at the StubHub Center could have closed their eyes, and known was happened just from listening to the crunching punches connect.
In the fourth round, Inoue wanted Nieves to engage more, and stood in the center of the ring with his hands dropped to his side, waving Nieves to him. Where did he learn to showboat like this? Inoue explained after the fight, The opponent was running, I thought this wouldn’t make a good fight, so I thought I would encourage him.” This would be like encouraging Nieves to run into an oncoming train.
A textbook left hook to the liver by Inoue dropped Nieves to the canvas for the first time in his career in the fifth round. He got up with effort and made it through the round. Inoue continued to deliver more body shots, trying to make Nieves fold. After another round of similar punishment, Nieves’ corner called it a night and wisely so. It could not have been easy as it was the first time Nieves was unable to go the distance.
Not a lot of people want to get in the ring with Inoue at this point. Nieves deserves a lot of credit for the leap of faith. He had nothing to lose. While Rungvisai will face Estrada first, the fight everyone now wants to see is Rungvisai versus Inoue.
Promoter Tom Loeffler was so pleased with the interest and respond of fans to the “Superfly” card, he said he believes there will be a “Superfly 2.” A little patience, fans.
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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