The first time Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs), born Wisaksil Wangek, battled Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs), the ringside judges seemed like the only ones who thought he won. This time around, they had no say in the matter.
The Thai hurled bricks at the former champion. Gonzalez had never tasted defeat before the two squared off in March. Gonzalez had never received a real licking before they did it again at Carson, California’s StubHub Center, designated the “War-Grounds.”
It is not easy deciphering what is next for the WBC champion. Gonzalez was special, different than any other competitor in the sport’s lightest divisions. It took a decade of flawless work from the Nicaraguan before he landed on HBO. As for Rungvisai, the network will not be in any rush to bring back a name without real drawing power—or one so hard to pronounce.
Naoya Inoue helped make up the “SuperFly” bill on Saturday. The WBO champion brushed aside his challenger and, beyond TV deals, a unification with Rungvisai is at the top of diehard’s wish lists.
Inoue, though, was holding out for a superfight with Chocolatito. Bantamweight is imminent for the Japanese after this weekend, per a report from Asian Boxing.
Juan Francisco Estrada opened the telecast, pulling out a decision over Carlos Cuadras. The performance made him Rungvisai’s mandatory challenger.
Before Srisaket put Gonzalez on the canvas this year, Estrada gave the Nicaraguan all he could handle in a tight decision back in 2012. This is a matchup HBO can get behind—eventually.
In all likelihood, it will not happen next. Rungvisai is due for a hero’s welcome.
The Thai champion solidified his claim to the super flyweight strap. He and his team, headed by Nakornloung Promotions, are calling the shots now.
When Srisaket’s promotional stablemate Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (Suriyan Kaikanha) lifted the 115-pound WBC title himself six years ago, a quick turnaround followed.
Suriyan turned back former champion Nobuo Nashiro in Thailand before dropping the strap to Japan’s Yota Soto.
The Thai boxers’ prodigious promoter Thainchai Pisitwuttinan—only 25 at the time—set up Srisaket (Wangek) with a shot for revenge and he pummeled Sato in eight rounds for the WBC championship in 2013.
Now four years later, Rungvisai will be 31 in December. That is ancient for anybody fighting below bantamweight. With the strap back in his possession, any upcoming defense will not be anywhere but Thailand, where Rungvisai draws a ruckus crowd, unless a career payday is on the line.
In 2014, Srisaket took on the aforementioned Cuadras in Mexico and raked in over $200,000. The Thai made $170,000 this weekend opposite Gonzalez—$100,000 more than he received in March.
So there is money to be made far and away from HBO.
Estrada will get his crack but he will have to go to Thailand to do it anytime soon.
Header photo by Ed Mulholland/HBO