BOXING

Juan Francisco Estrada Wins Narrow Thriller Over Carlos Cuadras

Estrada Takes the W

While Srisaket Sor Rungvisai’s knockout of Roman Gonzalez was a thrilling surprise, the undercard bout between Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras turned out to be exciting as expected.

Estrada and Cuadras battled as if plenty was on the line, because it was. The winner got a title shot. There was a possibility that the title shot would be a rematch each had longed for: Estrada had lost to Gonzalez back in 2012; Cuadras fell short against Gonzalez just last year.

Cuadras started off strong. Estrada battled back, taking a one-point victory on the scorecards.

Estrada was slow out of the gate. It was Cuadras throwing more, letting his hands go with a wealth of body shots and plenty of punches to the head as well. Estrada was left to seek openings in the opening rounds. The action was close but seemed to be in Cuadras’ favor. Yet Estrada was warming up, and then the action heated up into a firefight in the sixth. Now it was Estrada who was more explosive, coming on with combinations, seizing not only the moment but the momentum as well.

Cuadras had a better eighth, though not better than Estrada, who still won the round on the judges’ scorecards. Cuadras was able to take the ninth. Estrada stemmed the tide in the 10th, dropping Cuadras with a hard right hand. The punch had been set up with a softer left hook, distracting Cuadras, who remained in range with his gloves down as the right hand came crashing in, sending him crashing down.

That round proved to be the difference on the scorecards. The 10-8 scoring on the cards meant that while all three judges gave Estrada six rounds and Cuadras six rounds, Estrada was the 114-113 winner.

(The ring announcer, the famed Michael Buffer, initially announced Cuadras as the 114-113 winner, correcting himself moments later.)

Estrada improved to 36-2 with 25 KOs. He’s now mandatory challenger to the belt held by Sor Rungvisai. That’s a fight that’s now more exciting to think about than the rematch with Gonzalez that Estrada had long been waiting for. They’d fought at 108 pounds, Gonzalez winning a competitive but clear decision. Estrada moved up to 112 afterward, captured a pair of world titles with a victory over Brian Viloria, and made five successful defenses before moving up to super flyweight last year.

He fits in quite well in this talent-laden, action friendly division.

Cuadras is now 36-2-1 with 27 KOs. His only defeats have been closely fought battles with two very good fighters — Gonzalez and Estrada. He also holds a win over Sor Rungvisai dating back to 2014; Cuadras was ahead on the scorecards when a clash of heads opened a bad cut on him, ending the fight early. That earned Cuadras a world title, which he held for more than two years before running into Gonzalez.

He may not get an immediate title shot next, but he remains highly deserving of one. Perhaps HBO can air Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada and Naoya Inoue vs. Cuadras as a doubleheader, with the winners moving on to face each other —and maybe the losers doing the same.

 

Out With the Old, In With the New: Oleksandr Usyk Dominates Marco Huck for TKO

Oleksandr Usyk is two wins away from being crowned the best cruiserweight in the world.

Those next two fights will no doubt be tougher than the one he had Saturday night in Germany, kicking off the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament with an easy victory over Marco Huck, dominating and then dispatching him via 10th-round technical knockout.

But if anyone has a chance of running away with the tournament’s Muhammad Ali Trophy, millions of dollars in winnings, and three of the four major world titles at 200 pounds, it is Usyk.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist has quickly established himself over the past year, demonstrating that his combination of size, speed, boxing ability and power make him quite a force to be reckoned with.

He easily out-boxed Krzysztof Glowacki for a world title a year ago, knocked out Thabiso Mchunu in his first defense, defeated previously unbeaten contender Michael Hunter in April, and then entered the World Boxing Super Series as its overwhelming favorite.

His first opponent was Huck, once one of the top fighters at 200 pounds. Huck’s long title reign ended two years ago in a firefight with Glowacki, who came off the canvas to put Huck away. Earlier this year, Huck lost a wide decision to titleholder Mairis Briedis. This tournament was Huck’s last chance to regain his previous prominence. Alas, he wound up in the ring with Usyk.

Usyk boxed capably in the early moments, and Huck quickly realized that his best chance to land was going to be when his opponent’s back was against the ropes. Huck would unleash during those rare moments, only for Usyk to fire back and land more and better. Usyk had Huck hurt toward the end of the third, though with too little time left to try to put him away.

Huck landed clean on occasion — rare occasions. There was a right hand in the fourth that brought a smile from Usyk, and then a flurry in response. There was a right hand in the fifth that brought a taunt from Usyk, who faked wobbly legs and then retaliated with heavier artillery once again. Huck began to look for counter shots, knowing that timing was going to be his best chance to try to land the one punch that could make a difference. Except he was eating far more punches for every one he was able to land.

Tired and frustrated, Huck took a cheap shot after Usyk tripped to the canvas in the eighth. Huck threw and landed while Usyk was down. Usyk wasn’t hurt by it. The referee still rightly took a point from Huck.

That point wasn’t going to matter. Huck was already well behind, and the fight wouldn’t go to the scorecards anyway. In the 10th, Usyk let loose with an extended barrage of punches to the body and head that had Huck covering up, unable to respond, just trying to survive and defend. He wasn’t doing enough of either — the referee jumped in.

Huck is now 40-5-1 with 27 KOs and will likely be consigned to the second tier of cruiserweights, no longer able to compete at the top level.

Usyk, meanwhile, is 13-0 with 11 KOs. He will move on to face the winner of the Sept. 30 fight between Briedis and Mike Perez. The other opening round bouts for the tournament are Yunier Dorticos vs. Dmitry Kudryashov (don’t blink on Sept. 23) and titleholder Murat Gassiev vs. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk on Oct. 21.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

Comments