This Friday night, Oct. 23, streaming live on DAZN (7:00 pm ET), we’ll see three world title fights from Mexico City, with the main hope among fans and promoters being that we’ll finally set up a long-overdue rematch between 115-pound titleholders.
It’s no gimme, although both WBC titlist Juan Francisco Estrada and WBA titlist Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez will be clearly favored to win their fights. If they do, it’s expected — not guaranteed, though — that they’ll finally meet in a rematch, which Estrada has been hoping to get since their bout in 2012, which Gonzalez won. That one took place at 108 pounds, and Estrada has chased Gonzalez up through the weights seeking the fight.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve got on deck Friday.
Juan Francisco Estrada vs Carlos Cuadras 2
The 30-year-old Estrada (40-3, 27 KO) has the tougher assignment on paper, even if most would see it as a major upset if Cuadras (39-3-1, 27 KO) were to beat him at this point in their careers.
This is a rematch itself, with the two fighters having met at the same weight back in 2017 on an HBO card from California. That night, Estrada won about as narrow as you can win, taking three cards of 114-113 from the judges, with the difference being a 10th round knockdown of Cuadras, who Michael Buffer originally and mistakenly announced as the winner.
It was also a really good fight, but the paths to get to this rematch have been very different, and frankly it wasn’t something anyone was demanding anymore. Cuadras lost his follow-up bout to McWilliams Arroyo in Feb. 2018, and two months after that bout, where he refused a post-fight drug test, he entered rehab.
He was back in the ring in Aug. 2018, and has won three straight fights over Ricardo Nunez, Daniel Lozano, and Jose Maria Cardenas, the last one of those a majority decision in Sept. 2019, not exactly an encouraging sign.
This is kind of make-or-break for Cuadras’ career as even a potential legitimate contender again. That’s not to say he has to win, even; if he performs well and is competitive even in defeat, it would be a huge boost for his career. At 32, he could still use a strong showing as a springboard to more good fights, perhaps appearing beatable but credible. Guys like that get a lot of work in boxing, and frankly they should.
For Estrada, he has to win this to get the fight he’s wanted for eight years. It’s really that simple for him. Following that loss to Chocolatito in 2012, he moved up in weight and immediately took a pair of flyweight titles from Brian Viloria, and then won his next nine fights, too, the last of which was the Cuadras bout. He dropped a majority decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in Feb. 2018, then won two stay-busy fights before beating Rungvisai in their Apr. 2019 rematch, and followed that with a homecoming WBC title defense in Mexico against Dewayne Beamon.
In short, Estrada has kept on a run of good form since the first meeting with Cuadras, and is currently considered the No. 1 fighter at 115 pounds. Cuadras, meanwhile, has sort of fallen off the map, definitely out of the top 10. But at his best, Cuadras really has been a hell of a fighter, and if he is healthy, motivated, and can find some of that old magic again, he has a big chance to get back in the game here.
How to Watch Estrada vs Cuadras 2
Date: Friday, Oct. 23 | Start Time: 7:00 pm ET
Location: Gimnasio TV Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
TV: Azteca (Mexico) | Stream: DAZN
Roman Gonzalez vs Israel Gonzalez
33-year-old Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KO) had a brief reign where he was recognized as the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter by many, and he had earned it. Winning titles at 105, 108, and 112, Gonzalez didn’t get that designation until Floyd Mayweather had officially retired (for the time being) in 2015, after which he moved up again and made it four divisions with a 115-pound title win over the aforementioned Cuadras in 2016.
Then, in 2017, the Nicaraguan ran into his own personal brick wall in the form of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. While their first fight in March of that year was a debated results, with Rungvisai taking a majority decision and taking the “0” from Gonzalez in Chocolatito’s 47th pro fight, the rematch six months later was very conclusive. Rungvisai fully overpowered Gonzalez that time, stopping him in the fourth round.
After a year out of the ring, some figured that Father Time had finally caught up with Chocolatito. He made a relatively low-key return on the Canelo-Golovkin 2 show, beating Moises Fuentes via fifth round TKO, but a lot of people wanted to hold the narrative that Chocolatito was done as a top fighter. Taking another 15 months off didn’t help that story, and his next fight — a win over Diomel Diocos in Japan — was even lower-key.
But it tuned him up for a fight two months later against Kal Yafai, the WBA titleholder at 115 pounds. Plenty of people saw it as a good fight for Yafai to truly establish himself; he’d been barking for a big fight for years, but just never got one. He got it, and then he got routed, as Gonzalez proved that any rumors of his demise were quite false, ultimately dominating Yafai en route to a ninth round stoppage and another world title.
Now, he’s matched with 23-year-old Mexican Israel Gonzalez (25-3, 11 KO). Israel turned pro back in 2014 when he was 17 years old, which isn’t unusual in Mexico (and is becoming increasingly less unusual in the U.S., too), and while he has a club fight sort of loss on his record from 2016, his other two defeats came against good fighters. He was beaten by Jerwin Ancajas in an IBF title fight in 2018, where he was truly over-matched, and then in a WBA title fight against Yafai nine months later in Monte Carlo, where he went the distance and nicked some rounds along the way.
In his last outing, Israel went to Osaka in Dec. 2019 and scored a bit of an upset over Sho Ishida. Fighters Israel’s age sometimes do put it together, things click in the gym, they’ve grown into their bodies and MAN STRENGTH!!!, etc., and that could make him a more dangerous opponent than it might seem here. He’s a sizable underdog for a reason, though.
Julio Cesar Martinez vs Moises Calleros
WBC flyweight titleholder Martinez (16-1, 12 KO) broke out in 2019 as one of the sport’s most exciting young fighters. First, he beat a visiting Andrew Selby via upset stoppage in Mar. 2019 in Mexico, and he followed that up with what appeared to be — and was about to be — a title win over Charlie Edwards in the United Kingdom on Aug. 31. But due to a body shot that landed on a downed Edwards, the fight was changed instantly to a no-contest by the WBC officials on hand, something nobody could ever remember seeing a sanctioning body flex so openly on before.
With Edwards deciding to vacate and move up in weight and also change promoters in order to avoid an order to face Martinez again, JCM won the vacant WBC 112-pound belt on Dec. 20 in Arizona, hammering out former titlist Cristofer Rosales inside of nine rounds. And he was back two months later for a first defense, winning a decision over the very solid Jay Harris in Texas.
Now 25, Martinez returns to Mexico for the first time since the Selby fight, as he defends his belt against late notice opponent Moises Calleros (33-9-1, 17 KO), a 31-year-old fellow Mexican who has been drafted in to replace Maximino Flores, who tested positive for coronavirus.
Martinez-Flores figured to be a war, albeit one with a clear favorite. Martinez-Calleros doesn’t have that sort of juice on paper, but you never know. Calleros has absolutely nothing to lose here. He’s a 12-year pro who’s never been a real contender at any weight he’s fought, and he’s bounced around between 105 and 112, even taking a fight at 122 in the summer of 2019 (he won). Overall he’s won five in a row.
It should be noted that if you look at his weights, he appears to have some history of trouble on the scales. He missed weight badly for a Sept. 2019 fight against Christian Eduardo Bacasegua, which was a flyweight fight, and Calleros weighed in almost four pounds heavy. And back in 2014, he had a bout against a debuting opponent who came in at 114¾, while Calleros checked in at 120¼. There’s also a 2010 fight where his opponent was under the 108-pound limit, while Calleros weighed in at 110¼. Often in non-title fights you have catchweights and contract weights that don’t meet traditional weight class limits, but you don’t really see things like that. Usually when that happens guys are still right about the same weight, not multiple pounds apart. I’m not saying this means the world, but maybe just don’t be too shocked if he doesn’t make weight on Thursday, all things considered.
And it likely won’t matter; Martinez is a huge step up in class for Calleros from his recent fights. Calleros did fight for an interim 105-pound belt in 2017, losing to Tatsuya Fukuhara, and for a full 105-pound belt in 2018, losing to Ryuya Yamanaka. He also lost to Jose Argumedo, a solid contender at 105/108, in 2018. So he’s been in with a few notably good opponents just counting the last few years. He is also 0-3 against them.