SuperFly Betting Preview: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada

SuperFly Betting Preview: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada article feature image

A year ago, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter on Earth. Any boxing fan would love to tell you that they had Chocolatito ahead of household names like Gennady Golovkin, Andre Ward, or Canelo Alvarez. The Nicaraguan flyweight had a sparkling 46-0 record, was a champion in four weight classes, and rarely seemed to break a sweat while demolishing his opponents.

Then he stepped into the ring with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a 30-year-old former garbage collector who was fighting for just the fifth time outside of his home country of Thailand.

Sor Rungvisai, who also goes by the name Wisaksil Wangek, had just one notable fight on his resume before his MSG tango with Chocolatito, a technical decision (headbutt) loss to Carlos Cuadras in Mexico in 2014. At that point, it would have been fair to assume the name Srisaket Sor Rungvisai would be lost to the boxing abyss forever.

Instead, Srisaket went on a tear after losing to Cuadras. The many-named man knocked out 14 fighters in a row to put himself back on the SuperFly radar, got the call to take on the biggest name among boxing’s littlest men, then squeezed out a a controversial majority decision over Chocolatito in a Fight of the Year contender.

The Thai SuperFly left no doubt in the rematch, however. Srisaket flattened Chocolatito in the fourth round of their Sept. 9 bout, silencing the crowd at the StubHub Center.

The picture of Chocolatito sprawled out on the canvas shook up the boxing world and launched one of the sport’s most improbable stars.

The success of the first “SuperFly” show meant a follow-up was in order. It was apparent that Srisaket would be the main attraction, and there was a clear contender for his dance partner: Juan Francisco Estrada, who defeated Cuadras on the SuperFly undercard,

The Black Hat

After losing three of his first five fights, Sor Rungvisai won 26 tilts — including 24 knockouts — in a row against no-namers in Southeast Asia until his loss to Cuadras. (It is important to note that even though it was a headbutt from Sor Rungvisai that ended the fight, Cuadras was ahead on all cards when the bout was called.)

After that, Sor Rungvisai went home and knocked out more unheralded opponents before traveling to the States, where he completely turned boxing on its head with his two wins over Chocolatito. Any sport needs needs a proper villain, and by beating Gonzalez, Sor Rungvisai put on a black hat.

Here’s what we really know about the current champion: He’s a madman with a ton of power, and he isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket and trade.

But that’s pretty much where it ends with the former sanitation man. Of his 49 professional fights, only three have come against recognizable opposition, and only a handful took place outside of Thailand.  All of these variables make for a fighter that’s hard to handicap, which is why the market is so tight despite Sor Rungvisai’s sensational wins over the pound-for-pound champ.

El Gallo

At one point, you could have made the argument that Estrada was the best Mexican boxer in the world. Now that distinction belongs to Canelo Alvarez, but it’s a lot closer than people realize. Alvarez is a bigger name, but Estrada is a crafty boxer-puncher who can orchestrate a victory in a variety of ways.

He’s more a boxer than a knockout artist, but Estrada can put people to sleep, especially if they are reckless coming forward. He will time a sloppy fighter and make him pay.

Even with Sor Rungvisai’s wins over Chocolatito, Estrada  boasts a much more impressive resume. Estrada has wins over Cuadras, Brian Viloria and Hernan Marquez as well as a competitive loss to Chocolatito in 2012.

Estrada is also the more polished and talented boxer and has the more diverse arsenal. He doesn’t have the speed of Cuadras or the power of Chocolatito, but Estrada is quick and has pop. There may not be a dynamic part of El Gallo’s game, but it’s hard to find any holes, either.

Sor Rungvisai’s Path to Victory

Sor Rungvisai wants this match to devolve into a brawl. Estrada may be the bigger fighter on paper, but Sor Rungvisai is the more imposing figure in the ring. He just stood in the pocket with the best boxer on the planet and came away for the better. Nothing that Estrada can do will scare him from coming forward like he did against Chocolatito.

Honestly, the dude is just insane. There are a lot of fundamental flaws in the way he fights, but his style works for him. Baseball pitchers can be effectively wild, and that holds true in boxing, too. Sor Rungvisai will be willing and able to trade shots with Estrada because he knows he can handle the punishment more than El Gallo can.

Estrada’s Path to Victory

Estrada will need to frustrate Sor Rungvisai with movement and craftsmanship. More than likely, an Estrada win means this fight will reach the judges’ table because he will be hard-pressed to put the Thai maniac on the canvas. If he can’t hurt Sor Rungvisai with one punch, Estrada will need to do his damage with volume.

Whereas Chocolatito is a forward-pressure fighter, El Gallo isn’t going to stand in the center of the ring and go blow for blow with the champ, so he will need to get in, score and get out. Estrada has great combinations, uses feints well and has a high boxing IQ, so he has everything it takes to come up with a game plan and execute it.

The Odds

First of all, it’s quite peculiar that as of Thursday evening a lot of offshore books weren’t offering a price on the fight, yet they had the undercard bout between McWilliams Arroyo and Cuadras available.

According to OddsShark, this fight opened with Sor Rungvisai as a slight favorite at -130, but the market is a bit scattered. At William Hill, the champion was listed at -125 with Estrada coming back at even money on Wednesday, but those odds have since flipped with money coming in on the Mexican.

BetOnline has the Thai at +115 with Estrada coming back at -135, and Pinnacle is offering it as -134/+119 with Estrada a consensus favorite. If you’re looking for the best number on the underdog, 5dimes seems like your best move with Sor Rungvisai priced at +130 and Estrada at -150.

The Pick

It is not an easy fight to make sense of because there are so many unknowns with Sor Rungvisai, but I think that works in our favor here. We basically know what Estrada is at this point. He’s a very talented and intelligent boxer who has the wherewithal to make adjustments in the ring.

However, all the bells and whistles in the world won’t make a difference when you’re absorbing punishment from a power-punching demon like Sor Rungvisai. He can punish Estrada upstairs and to the body, where Estrada has shown he is vulnerable, and that should throw the Mexican star off his game.

If Chocolatito couldn’t do significant damage to Sor Rungvisai, it’s hard to imagine Estrada will be able to hurt him, so the Mexican will need to not only survive 12 rounds, but win a majority of them while taking abuse. That’s a tall order, and that’s why Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, aka Wisaksil Wangek, aka “The Garbage Man,” will come out on top here.

I expect the champ to target the body, where Estrada has shown he is vulnerable, early and often before opening up the Mexican’s defense upstairs. If he comes out on the front foot and stays on the pedal, Sor Srisaket should overwhelm Estrada. Because of his power and his durability, I give Sor Srisaket over a 50% chance of winning this fight, so there’s plenty of value to be had. Back Sor Rungvisai at +130 (5Dimes) and hope for some fireworks.

Boxing record: 7-2-1, +17.05 units

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs) takes on Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) on Feb. 24 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The main portion of the card begins at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO.

Photo: K2 Promotions

All odds current as of 2 p.m. ET on 2/23.