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Preview: HBO’s Superfly 3

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Let’s take a quick look at the three fights on HBO’s third Superfly effort on Saturday.

Usually we’d do a normal Matchup-type preview for a major card, but in lieu of that, let’s just talk some fights real laid back style, here at the end of a hot summer. (At least where I live, I don’t know what your weather’s been like.)

All three fights for this card are in the 115-pound super flyweight division. HBO’s Superfly series has been great for fight fans thus far, and as far as action goes, this one should be another winner.

Juan Francisco Estrada vs Felipe Orucuta

The headline bout sees Estrada (36-3, 25 KO) return to the program following a win over Carlos Cuadras last September and a tight loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in the main event in February.

The 28-year-old Mexican is probably still the No. 2 man in the division at this point — the majority decision loss to Srisaket didn’t change things, really, as he proved his quality at the elite level of the division again.

For years, Estrada chased a rematch with Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who beat him at 108 pounds in 2012. He went up to flyweight, then to super flyweight, seeking another shot. That didn’t happen. It still could, I guess, especially if both win their fights on the next two weekends. But now Estrada is probably chasing the second crack at Srisaket.

Orucuta (36-4, 30 KO) is a fellow Mexican fighter, 32 years old, nicknamed “Gallito.” He’s won five straight, but he’s also failed in steps up before. He last lost in 2015, when he was stopped after six rounds by Jose Cayetano. He’s probably best known for a pair of losses in Argentina against Omar Narvaez in 2013 and 2014, one a split decision and the other a majority decision. He was competitive in those fights, but Estrada is a much different fighter than Narvaez, too. That said, these guys both have some power, both will come to throw hands, and it could be explosive.

Donnie Nietes vs Aston Palicte

The main event pits two Mexican fighters against one another, the co-feature is a pair of Filipinos for the vacant WBO title, last held by Naoya Inoue, who has of course since moved up to bantamweight.

Nietes (41-1-4, 23 KO) has been one of the most reliable fighters in recent years, largely flying under the radar for U.S. fans due to the fact he’s fought mostly in the Philippines. But he did come over for wins against Juan Alejo, Edgar Sosa, and most recently, Juan Carlos Reveco, all at flyweight.

Nietes, 36, is at this point of his career where a move up in weight could be dangerous, though. On paper, he has it all over the 27-year-old Palicte (24-2, 20 KO) in everything but youth, but that youth could be the difference maker. Palicte has some power and is the fresher man, and he’s lost just once since 2012, a 2016 split decision defeat to Junior Granados on the road in Mexico.

Nietes has been on a tremendous run since 2005, coming up with just one draw and nothing but wins otherwise in the last 13 years, and he hasn’t lost since 2004. Palicte will look to make himself a star at Donnie’s expense.

Kazuto Ioka vs McWilliams Arroyo

The opener, set for 10 rounds, may be the best matchup on the card.

Japan’s Ioka (22-1, 13 KO) is a former titleholder at 108 and 112, coming out of a brief retirement to return to action against Puerto Rico’s Arroyo (17-3, 14 KO). The 29-year-old Ioka’s only loss came in 2014 against Amnat Ruenroeng. Arroyo, 32, has losses to Ruenroeng and Chocolatito, plus an early career defeat against a guy named Takashi Okada, who didn’t go on to do anything.

Arroyo might be better than his record. He went to a split with Ruenroeng and gave Gonzalez 12 rounds, and in his last fight at Superfly 2, he upset Carlos Cuadras. If Ioka is rusty, Arroyo could be a bad comeback opponent. If Ioka isn’t, this could easily be the most competitive fight on the card.