In boxing one thing can be a catalyst for lots of other things. A win or a loss, a change in weight or a change in promotional affiliations can cause quite serious changes in sport. It seems that last night we had one such event.
The event in question was Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38) claiming the WBC Super Flyweight title with a massive upset win against the previously unbeaten Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38). Obviously it has direct implications to both Srisaket, who is now a 2-time world champion, and Gonzalez, who has suffered his first loss and taken potentially career shortening damage in the process, but it has actually set in motion a number of other events.
Firstly there is the WBC title picture. The winner of last nights bout knew, going in, that they would have a mandatory title defense against Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1, 27).
Cuadras had beaten Srisaket for the title almost 3 years ago, claiming an 8th round technical decision over the Thai. He then lost the title, in his 7th defense as he was narrowly defeat by Gonzalez in a war last September. Both men had eyes on Cuadras entering their bout, with Cuadras himself struggling past David Carmona in a supporting bout, but it seemed the Mexican only had eyes for Gonzalez.
On paper Srisaket Vs Cuadras is next, but both men may look elsewhere, with an interim bout. There will almost certainly be a long dispute about where the fight will take place, and although it could be held on neutral ground in the US I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nakornluang pay big money to get this fight in Thailand. After all their first bout was in Mexico.
Secondly there is Gonzalez. The Nicaraguan now needs a long time to let his body rest and heal. He has been one of the sports best fighters, well before he made his US debut in 2011 against Omar Soto. It’s only been in the last few years that HBO have shone the spotlight at the Nicaraguan and sadly that means many fight fans in the West never saw Gonzalez at his best. As he moved up to Flyweight, and more obviously Super Flyweight, his power didn’t have the same effect it had at the lower weights. Whilst it’s clear the outgrew Minimumweight, where he claimed his first world title back in 2008, it’s just as clear that he’s not a natural Super Flyweight.
A move to down to Flyweight is probably asking too much of the Nicaraguan, but his future at Super Flyweight will be damaging and for the second fight in a row he was left with clear facial damage. Yeah this may have been as a result of head clashes against Srisaket, but we hardly saw Gonzalez even looking bruised at the lower weights. He needs a rest, a solid rest, before even thinking about returning to the ring. In the last 12 months he has had 36 hard rounds, against Srisaket, Cuadras and McWilliams Arroyo, and those rounds were damaging.
Thirdly, with the luster being taken of Gonzalez it seems that the potential little-man super fight between the Nicaraguan and Japanese star Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) is also off the cards. Following the loss for Gonzalez Inoue publicly stated that his reason to remain at Super Flyweight was gone. This is a huge shame in many ways, especially given that the bout was one that would have attracted massive attention to the division, but one that seemed likely.
Whilst Inoue could stay at Super Flyweight for bouts with the likes of Jerwin Ancajas, Kal Yafai and Srisaket, it has long been known that his key target was Gonzalez and none of the other fighters have the same allure as the Nicaraguan. The Japanese fighter may stay in the division for the short term, and his next bout is likely to be at Super Flyweight in May, but the move up is looking likely before the end of 2017.
With Inoue now making his intent clear we come to the fourth point, the WBO title. Inoue’s reign as the WBO champion began in 2014, when he gave Omar Andres Narvaez a brutalising and announced himself as a huge talent. Since winning the title he has defended it 4 times, but failed to attract the same buzz that his title win garnered him. A move to Bantamweight would see him vacating the title. At the moment the top two WBO ranked contenders at Super Flyweight are Rex Tso (21-0, 13), a massive star in Hong Kong and all out action fighter, Rex Tso (21-0, 13), a massive star in Hong Kong and all out action fighter, and Northern Irishman Jamie Conlan (19-0, 11).
Whilst Tso and Conlan aren’t elite level fighters a bout between the two is sure to have fireworks given the styles of the two men and would almost certainly be another FOTY contender at Super Flyweight, and we’re having them pretty regularly at the moment.
As a fight fan I’d have loved Inoue Vs Gonzalez, but the same sort of fan inside me gets very excited at the idea Tso Vs Conlan, and if that’s the consolation prize, along with Srisaket Vs Cuadras II, then I’m certainly not upset to be getting that instead.
Although the dust has scarcely settled on yesterday’s bout it’s fair to say the implications will be huge to the Super Flyweight division, and may well have tied up the 2017 Upset of the Year award.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)