The highly anticipated “SuperFly” card took place at StubHub Center, just outside Los Angeles on Saturday.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend. Thanks to Twitter I was made a very kind offer to become a house guest of fellow boxing devotees in the LA area and I also had a number of people I wanted to meet prior to and at the fights.
This piece offers a quick account of the action in the ring followed by a nod of appreciation to social media for bringing all of us passionate boxing lovers together. The final section of this article will present a brief reflection on the result of the main event.
The televised portion of the card got underway with a final eliminator. Mexican fighters Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada waged civil war for the right to become the next challenger for the WBC 115lb title.
This turned out to be the StubHub classic fight on the card. A fast start saw Cuadras come out throwing bombs. Estrada, using intelligent ring craft, was able to avoid any major problems during the early running.
After the fourth round Estrada, showing the much more refined skills, began to take control of the contest. Cuadras was still having some success during the frequent toe to toe flurries but on the whole Estrada looked to be wearing his man down with the more clinical work.
This paid off handsomely in the tenth round when a right hand from Estrada sent Cuadras to the canvas.
The fight was over six minutes later. After some confusion over the original announcement Estrada was declared the UD winner by the score of 114-113 by all three judges. Sitting in row 7 the consensus around me was that it should have been a wider decision for Estrada.
Next up, much talked about Japanese star Naoya “Monster” Inoue was in the ring to make his debut on American soil. The heavily touted Inoue was defending his WBO version of the 115lb pie against home fighter Antonio Nieves.
This bout went as expected. Inoue boxed on the front foot as he chased a stoppage win to impress his new international audience. Showing speed, power and a relentless body attack, the 18 minutes of action were painful ones for Nieves as “Monster” lived up to his nickname.
After bravely taking his medicine, Nieves was sent down by a thudding left hook to the body in the fifth. Rising he received more punishment. After the sixth round concluded, the corner for Nieves informed the referee they wouldn’t be sending their man back out for any more abuse. Inoue had the KO victory he had been craving.
This led us to the main event. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai defending his WBC title against the man he was awarded a controversial win over in March, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. Although Rungvisai was the bigger, harder hitting fighter I was sure Gonzalez’s superior skills would help him regain the belt.
Then the contest started.
Something looked not quite right with “Chocolatito” straight away. Although he tried to force the pace, Roman looked a step slow and Rungvisai was happy to let Gonzalez advance before landing his bigger, more accurate shots during the exchanges.
The fans from Nicaragua and Thailand were noisily supporting their fighters and it was the Thai contingent who were celebrating in the fourth session when a right hook from the lefty Rungvisai sent “Chocolatito” down.
Up and shaken Gonzalez re-engaged immediately. This proved to be a mistake as soon enough Rungvisai landed another big right – there was no recovering, the fight was over. Hurt and heartbroken, Gonzalez remained on the canvas as Rungvisai celebrated his emphatic victory.
There were no doubts this time surrounding Rungvisai’s win. The Thai will fight Estrada in his next defence. The way Gonzalez lost left me deflated – more on this in the final part.
SOCIAL MEDIA SOCIALISING
More and more in the world we live in we rely on technology. It seems we are constantly connected via our smart phones and people are willing to share thoughts and opinions via platforms like Twitter. As soon as the “SuperFly” event was announced the excitement among the boxing fans I follow was palpable.
My own enthusiasm was hard to contain also and this led to me being offered accommodation in California by Johnny and Lisa – two boxing supporters who I’d conversed and become friendly with over many months.
Once I decided to travel I took Johnny and Lisa up on their offer and couldn’t have wished for better or more hospitable hosts in California.
This then led to the chance to meet up with long time friend and former interviewee on this site, Abraham Gonzalez. Abraham, with his wife Miriam in tow, joined the party at Johnny and Lisa’s residence on Friday evening and we hit it off instantly.
Fast forward to the day of the fights and our plans included meeting up with yet another Twitter contact. Luke and his buddy Michael had travelled to California from Australia for the event. Just as with everyone else it was a delight to meet up with our Southern Hemisphere friends and talk some boxing.
Our group was now complete and we had a United Nations feel about us. The conversation and beer was flowing and I was delighted that our gang from “Boxing Twitter” were getting along so well. I felt privileged to be a part of it.
Just before the main fights began I headed over to press row to say hello to reporter Gayle Falkenthal, whose writing I enjoy. We had spoken previously on, you guessed it, Twitter about boxing and writing. California native Gayle welcomed me to her home state and it was nice to talk in person with a professional writer for a few minutes.
Meeting so many fellow boxing fanatics was a joy and proved that, when used correctly, social media can have a positive impact. Our love of boxing and use of Twitter brought us all together for one night under the stars at StubHub Center. It was a night I will never forget. It would not have been possible without a simple piece of technology.
SADNESS AND A SURPRISE
If you have read my work before or indeed if I am on your Twitter timeline you will know I am a huge fan of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
It was tough for me to watch this proud warrior being dispatched in such ruthless fashion by his skilled opponent. My head was in my hands as “Chocolatito” was downed for the second time. I knew he wouldn’t get up.
It looked like Roman had met Father Time. Displaying negative body language as he entered the ring, Gonzalez possibly knew he wouldn’t be successful on the night.
It is also conceivable that since losing his long time trainer Arnulfo Obando, who died suddenly last year, Gonzalez can no longer find the joy in boxing that he once could.
Boxing, like life, stands still for no-one and the four weight world champion found this out the hard way on Saturday.
My overwhelming feeling of sadness began to subside as I thought about the great career “Chocolatito” has had along with all the astonishing displays he has given over the years.
While we don’t yet know if this will be the end for Roman he deserves our plaudits for always challenging himself and fighting the very best opponents from 105lbs to 115lbs. The 115lb division may be a step too far as the men who currently occupy the top spots at super-flyweight all hold huge physical advantages over Gonzalez.
As my friend Gayle pointed out in her fight report, it shouldn’t be forgotten that it was Gonzalez who has opened the door for the previously ignored lighter weight classes. The fighters who are in their primes look set to benefit from the increased level of coverage and exposure the little guys are now receiving. They owe Gonzalez their thanks.
I hope that Gonzalez recovers mentally and physically from his experience on Saturday.
Enjoy your time off Roman and thank you for all the exciting fights you have given us fans during your campaign. If you fight again we will be supporting you, if not we salute you for your stunning career.
Overall it was a great night and I will close this piece on a positive note by sharing with you how the evening ended for me.
Before jumping back onto the horrific 405 freeway (bumper to bumper traffic at all times of the day or night it seemed) Johnny needed to refuel his car. Pulling up on the forecourt he noticed boxing trainer Robert Garcia at the adjacent pump.
It was surreal so I jumped out of the passenger seat to say hello. Robert was gracious and funny as we discussed the StubHub fights for a minute. I was delighted to be able to wish him and his stable all the best and to ask him to pass on my best regards to his younger brother Mikey, one of my favourite fighters.
It was a nice way to round off the night before we headed for home on the dreaded 405.