Juan Francisco Estrada proclaimed on Tuesday that he is injury free this time around, as he gets ready to again challenge Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for the junior bantamweight world title.
“I had a knee injury first time around and my reactions were not the same,” Estrada said. “I could not run the same, I was tired but I showed heart. The final round was one of the best rounds of the year, and if I was 100 percent prepared with no injuries the whole fight would have been like that and maybe he wouldn’t handle that round.”
Former unified flyweight world titleholder Estrada and Sor Rungvisai, both among boxing’s best fighters in the world pound for pound, are set to meet in a much-anticipated rematch on April 26 (DAZN) at The Forum in Inglewood, California. That is the same venue where they went toe to toe 13 months ago and produced a contender for 2018 fight of the year in a classic slugfest that Sor Rungvisai won by hotly contested majority decision to retain the 115-pound world title.
Estrada, the mandatory challenger, has won two fights in a row since that defeat and had hoped to face Sor Rungvisai in the rematch later in 2018. However, Sor Rungvisai, who had boxed three consecutive times in the United States in 2017 and 2018, decided to go home to Thailand for two bouts before signing for the sequel as part of his new co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.
“I’ve always said there’s always a second chance and we need to take advantage of it,” Estrada said. “I was 50 percent prepared last time, not because I didn’t want to train but because I had some injuries that affected my preparation and we had no choice but to keep facing the fight as it was a very important fight. This rematch is an opportunity and we will make the most out of it because we are well trained and the goal is to be a world champion. Doesn’t matter if it’s against Rungvisai or anyone else.
“After his hand was raised, I knew there will be a rematch because it was an interesting fight for the fans and for us. It had to be a rematch. I had to win my way back with two or three flights because I was ranked on the top 10 but needed to come up to the second rank to be able to get this fight and my team and I made it happen.”
Estrada, 28, locked up the rematch in September when he outpointed Mexican countryman Felipe Orucuta in a world title elimination fight. Estrada (38-3, 26 KOs) said he anticipates the rematch with Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41 KOs), a 32-year-old southpaw and Thai national hero, will be another action-packed fight.
“When a right-handed fighter faces a lefty, it could be a boring fight because of the stances, but when Rungvisai and I fight, our style of boxing is a great match and I think it wasn’t a dirty fight. I think it was a good fight for the fans and that they enjoyed it.
“If he is 100 percent prepared like he was or more, I think it will be a more aggressive fight for both of us, a tougher fight, but I will throw a lot more punches and that will make the difference. He is a fighter that doesn’t throw a lot of combinations. He has very strong punches and I progressively throw more combinations. I will look for the knockout throwing more punches and showing more intensity.”
Estrada wants revenge for the loss, but what he wants most is the world title.
“Really being champion is the most important,” he said. “Doesn’t matter who is it against, and fighting Rungvisai, in my opinion, he is the best of this division. If God gives me the chance to win the fight, I would like to fight against other world champions and defend my title with a few fights and then get to the next division.”
The card also will include a junior featherweight world title unification fight between Daniel Roman (26-2-1, 10 KOs), 28, in a Los Angeles homecoming fight, and Australia-based Irishman TJ Doheny (21-0, 15 KOs), 32.