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‘Superfly’ talent storms into StubHub Center Saturday, HBO Boxing

Written By | Sep 8, 2017

(L to R): Carlos Cuadras, Naoya Inoue, Srisikat Sor Rungvisai, Roman Gonzalez, Antonio Nieves, and Juan Francisco Estrada. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

SAN DIEGO, September 7, 2017 – Anticipation for the “Superfly” boxing card has been picking up speed in the days counting down to the Saturday event at the fabled StubHub Center in Carson, California. It’s a Category 7 boxing card with more top talent than anyone can recall in modern boxing history.

If you aren’t one of the lucky few present ringside, the card will air live on HBO Boxing starting at 10:15 pm ET/PT.

International boxing media have coverged on Carson, California for Saturday’s fight featuring boxers from Mexico, Nicaragua, Thailand, Japan, and the U.S. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

This de facto tournament features three bouts with top ten ranked super flyweights, and a fourth bout with a former champion looking to get back in the title hunt. It has generated interest and enthusiasm from the moment it was announced in July. The participants are equally enthusiastic, all with something to prove to the fans, their opponents, and themselves.

All recognize they have something to prove on behalf of all smaller weight division boxers, long overshadowed by the bigger men, especially the heavyweights.

The success and undeniable talent of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez has helped open doors for other smaller weight division boxers. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

Gary Gittelsohn, veteran boxing manager of two division champion Brian Viloria and longtime advocate for the smaller weight divisions in boxing, said at Thursday’s final pre-fight news conference, “It seems like forever I have been knocking on HBO’s door and various regimes. It wasn’t until this group of open-minded executives that we have been able to bring these smaller division guys to HBO.

“This is going to be the most explosive show in recent memory. Pound for pound, these guys give you the best and the most professional contests you’ll ever see, they will not let us down.”

Roman Gonzalez (right) wants to win the WBC title back he lost in March to Srisikat Sor Rungvisai. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Ptomotions

In the main event, pound for pound phenomenon Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaragua (46-1, 38 KOs) wants 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). Gonzalez hopes to win back his WBC super flyweight title taken by Rungvisai with his win.

At Thursday’s final pre-fight news conference, Gonzalez promised not to let his many fans down this time. “This was my first loss, but on Saturday night I will prove that I’m the better fighter. This fight is for my people in Nicaragua who have supported me for many years, I will bring the title back home to them. For all my fans who have supported me it means a great deal to me and I will not let you down.” 

Roman Gonzalez promised fans in Nicaragua he would bring the WBC super flyweight title back home on Saturday. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

Of course I’m here because of God. He has giving me the blessing to be in front of you today. I come well prepared like I always do for all my fights. I hope I give you a wonderful fight like I always try every time I come into the ring,” added Gonzalez.

Srisikat Sor Rungvisai wants to prove his win over Roman Gonzalez in March was no fluke. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

Rungvisai, a national hero in Thailand, said through a translator he is also carrying the hopes of an entire country. “I am very happy and very proud to be fighting in such a great show. I will do my best to bring the title belt back to Thailand this time … Whether I win or lose, Roman Gonzalez will have to face a tough challenge, because he is fighting me Saturday night. I would like to invite all the Thais in Los Angeles and the United States to come cheer for me to take the title back to Thailand.”

There couldn’t be more of a contrast between the serious Rungvisai and the fun-loving former world champion Carlos “El Principe” Cuadras of Mexico (30-1-1, 27 KOs), who faces countryman and former world champion Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada (35-2, 25 KOs). The winner becomes the WBC mandatory challenger for the winner of the Gonzalez vs. Rungvisai rematch. Many believe this opening fight on HBO will be the fight of the night and perhaps a Fight of the Year.

Carlos Cuadras taunts opponent Juan Francisco Estrada with a clucking rubber chicken at Thursday’s news conference. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

The charismatic Cuadras frequently comes armed with his own props. This time, he brandished a squeaky, rubber chicken as a play on Estrada’s nickname, and made his own clucking noises throughout Estrada’s remarks.

Estrada dished out his own taunts. ““Cuadras talks too much, always talking but can’t back it up. I’m looking forward to making Carlos Cuadras into a Princess,” said Estrada, playing on the nickname. “I’m well prepared. To the fans who have always supported me, I’m looking forward to giving them a great fight. I’m hoping Roman wins on Saturday, so when I win, which I’m sure I will, I have a second opportunity to face him.”

By far the most combative pair outside the ring, Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada face off for news media. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

With his rubber chicken in hand, Cuadras fired back. “I’m looking forward to regaining my title pretty soon… I’m going to unfeather you, I came very prepared to do that Saturday night.

“He’s been scared of me for years, Estrada, a true chicken. He’s never wanted to fight but on Saturday I’m going to win and then I want to fight for my title again. I can beat ‘Chocolatito’ and I can beat Rungvisai so I don’t care which one it is. I laugh at this chicken saying he’s going to turn me into a princess, he’s going to be in a real war on Saturday night.”

Yes, Carlos Cuardras is “strong, fast, and very very handsome baby.” Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions


Cuadras closed with his favorite line, always said in English, “I am strong, I am fast, I am very very handsome baby,” to the laughs of the boxing media.

Naoya Inoue is a two-weight division champion in just 13 fights at age 22. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

Whether it matters or not who holds the title may be up to the one undefeated champion on the card in the second bout of the televised card. Making his long anticipated U.S. debut, Naoya “Monster” Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs) will defend his title against American prospect Antonio Nieves of Cleveland, Ohio (17-1-2, 9 KOs).

Inoue is one of the most exciting young talents in boxing, whose skills have made believers of fans around the world after winning two world titles in just eight professional fights, including a spectacular knockout of veteran Omar Narvaez of Argentina. His WBO super flyweight title will be on the line.

Naoya Inoue shows off is custom Los Angeles Dodgers jersey, a gift from the team signed by pitcher Kenta Maeda. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

Inoue was presented a custom Los Angeles Dodgers jersey with his name in Kanji on the back, signed by pitcher Kenta Maeda. “I’m very excited to be able to fight for an American audience,” said Inoue via a translator. “The day after tomorrow I will give my life’s best performance that will bring me back here to fight again.”

Antonio Nieves sees his bout with undefeated Naoya Inoue Saturday as the opportunity of a lifetime. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

Nieves is coming off a narrow split decision loss, the only one of his career. He is aware how little chance he’s given against Inoue, and he’s got precisely the right attitude about it. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Had you heard of Nieves before this? Point made.

“Everyone is counting me out. When I started my career, everyone counted me out … “I’ve overcome so much in my life, this is just another obstacle for me to defeat,” declared Nieves.

“Much respect to him, the champion, but I came to fight. I want to keep that belt in the United States … “My trainer (Joe Delguyd) has told me for a long time I can beat this guy and I believe him.” This is the chance of a lifetime for Nieves. Attitude goes a long way when you’re the underdog.

Brian Viloria hopes to make the most of his opportunity at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, October 17. Photo: Chris Farina/Golden Boy Promotions

Brian Viloria, pictured here prior to his 2015 fight with Roman Gonzalez, hopes to continue a successful return to the ring on Saturday. Photo: Chris Farina/Golden Boy Promotions

Observing with interest is American super flyweight Brian Viloria (35-7 22 KOs) of Hawaii, the self-proclaimed “Godfather” of the group at age 36. Viloria will fight on the undercard against Miguel Cartegena (15-3-1, 6 KOS) of Philadelphia. Viloria assured fans Thursday, “These guys will turn the world on to the lighter weight divisions. They are world-class caliber fighters they will show their best. The fans are in for a great show … I know all these guys will be taking their fights seriously, I can’t wait. Saturday can’t come soon enough. See you guys there.”

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.

This is the boxing equivalent of a hurricane warning, and you need to pay attention. When a fight is worth your investment of time and money, it’s vital we communicate this to you. So hear me now: block your schedule for Saturday night, and tell your family and friends not to bother you. Or invite them over, but tell them not to block the screen. 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.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.

Copyright © 2017 by Falcon Valley Group


Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.