Sriskat Sor Rungvisai and Noaya Inouye held their respective WBC and WBO super flyweight titles high in the air– after defending them with the force of tidal waves, setting up an inevitable collision course, while introducing themselves as stars on HBO After Dark Saturday night in Cali.
Thailand’s “SsR” (43-4-1, 39KOs) was just a massive tsunami for a melting Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2, 38KOs) right before our eyes. It became incredibly clear from the opening bell that Gongalez had morphed into a scary, shot version of Juan Manuel Lopez.
Gone was the head movement and upper body rhythmic beauty of a classic slugger with refined polish. This Chocolatito was Felix “Tito” Trinidad without confidence and gun shy. Knowing nothing else to do but come forward, the shell of Gonzalez walked directly into a natural disaster.
Where the Nicaraguan legend would strike with chip shots, SsR was throwing bricks and imposing himself physically. In rounds 1-3, unconcerned with Choco’s power or conditioning while supremely confident in both areas, Sor Rungvisai sidestepped and heavy-bagged a plodding Gonzalez.
The KO in the 4th was as vicious as it was emphatic. Because it was proceeded by a thunderous knockdown, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai’s massive right hand was an instant demolition. K2 Promotions CEO Tom Loeffler indicated Gonzalez wasn’t done, but he is FINISHED.
Once a truly great fighter loses all of his mojo, post leaving flyweight and left full of attrition this past March, he cannot be rebuilt. There were, in retrospective, some signs in recent performances that a fall was imminent. But I don’t know of a ring expert who saw Gonzalez being annihilated.
This can only mean Sor Rungvisai killed Gonzalez the prizefighter. In the process, it gave life to a mandatory defense against Juan Francisco Estrada, before dealing with a “Monster”.
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WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (14-0, 12KOs) is indeed a “Monster” awaiting Rungvisai, if the WBC boss survives a challenge from Juan Francisco Estrada (who got a razor-thin, come-from-behind UD over Carlos Cuadras). HBO now has a pair of generationally great fighters in position for a showdown. Peter Nelson, VP of Sports, no doubt envisions a Srisket Sor Rungvisai V Naoya Inoue megafight next year.
The Thai slugger should be too much for Estrada, as the Network of Champions can now match WBA super flyweight champion Khalid Yafai with Inoue, or go after Filipino IBF king Jerwin Ancahas. Both would be in trouble based on what unfolded against Antonio Nieves (17-2-2, 9KOs).
Clad in black trunks trimmed with yellow, a ripped and super-aggressive Inoue flashed a ring version of Bruce Lee from “Game of Death”. With the game’s sharpest and most punishing jab, Inoue unleashed an almost arrogant offense that offers no mercy. At just 24, Inoue appears to be approaching his best, while Sor Rungvisai seems to have another “best fight” in him at 30.
The slick Nieves fought very bravely and lost very badly; he was forced to abandon plans A and B while being beaten up on the run. That he survived myriad left hooks to the body and you name the combination [to the head] over 5 rounds, was simply an ode to toughness.
In any case, a new star was born with the big U.S. unveiling of Inoue, while Sor Rungvisai brutally announced he’s a king. A Sor Rungvisai V Inoue war would probably have to be staged in either Thailand or Japan to be the most widely seen, as it is the type of fight deserving of a most raucous crowd.
Both are poised for monstrous 2018 campaigns, as the “Super Fly” card @StubHub ushered in a new era at super flyweight.