HOLLYWOOD, California — The lavish setting was an unlikely backdrop for the roughnecks featured atop Matchroom Boxing’s April 26 card, but where the fighting will commence — at The Forum in nearby Inglewood — the recent press conference setting, in more ways than one, was a perfect place for them to wind up.
Streamed live on DAZN, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai looks to maintain his status as the WBC and Ring Magazine junior bantamweight champion when he battles Juan Francisco Estrada in the main event. The contest is a rematch of their February 2018 fight when Srisaket edged Estrada via majority decision, and the 115-pound elites are returning to the same building to settle what was a deserved Fight of the Year candidate the first time around.
“I think whenever there’s a rematch of any fight — especially if the first one is a really good fight — it’s always a special feeling because you want to make sure you step up your level better than the first fight,” Estrada told RingTV.com after the presser. “Having rematches on fight cards always makes the cards better because everybody always wants to see a good fight again. So, I’m very excited and I’ve been wanting this rematch for a whole year.
“I do think about that first fight. I try to look at it and see the good things that I did as well as the bad things. I think analyzing that fight will help me with this rematch.”
Estrada (38-3, 26 KOs) initially entered the fray of the 115-pound weight class with hopes of landing a rematch with Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, but it’s the man who abruptly changed that plot who’s now the focus of the Mexican’s newfound vengeance. Estrada, who will turn 29 by fight night, has had plenty of time to think about his last defeat, but he’s remained active in the meantime, fighting twice against menial competition to keep his versatile skills intact.
“I like the fact that I’ve been active,” said Estrada, who handled Felipe Orucuta and Victor Mendez rather easily. “I’ve had those two fights and I’ve had two good training camps for those two fights, and I feel in general the activity of having those fights will help me also in preparation for this fight.”
Training camp has already been going on for Estrada the past month. This week camp heads over to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, where, as he put it, sparring and concentration will be taken to the ‘next level.’ Estrada, a former unified titleholder at flyweight, has yet to capture the same type of glory at 115-pounds but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. There was a good argument for Estrada getting the decision nod a year ago, but the brute, unrelenting force of his rival was what may’ve been the deciding edge of a fight with a handful of close rounds.
“I have seen the first fight a few times,” Estrada said. “Whenever I watch it, I have sometimes thought that I won the fight, but then I also see that maybe certain rounds were too close. Maybe I should’ve thrown more punches. So, I think I did some good things but there’s also things that I can improve, and I’m gonna try and do so in the rematch.”
Srisaket (47-4-1, 41 KOs) was unable to make Monday’s press conference because he was training in Thailand, but the power-punching southpaw will be making his return to the United States after a couple of home defenses in the interim since beating Estrada. The 32-year-old monastic mauler may not have appreciated or even noticed the posh interior of the Beauty & Essex Restaurant anyway, besides, there’s much more substance to the triumphant run he’s currently on.
The co-featured bout on April 26 is an intriguing unification between Daniel Roman and TJ Doheny that will clear some of the air in the junior featherweight division.
“What better city to have an exciting fight than L.A.? They love a good tear up,” Doheny told RingTV.com, clutching his IBF belt with a confident smile and a weathered face only fight fans could love.
“I’ve always been supremely confident in my ability, but after winning the world title of course you’re going to get some of that added confidence,” Doheny said. “It’s all about now staying grounded and understanding that I still have a lot of work to do. Even as a world champion, I still have work to do. I’m not one of these fighters as a world champ who thinks they can just walk in and win any fight. I know I have to put the work in. It’s hard to get to the top but it’s even harder to stay at the top. If I want to stay up here, I have to be 100 percent focused.”
Doheny (21-0, 15 KOs) is six months removed from beating Ryosuke Iwasa in Tokyo, Japan to win the belt, and he’s defended it once already this past January in what was his promotional debut with Matchroom Boxing. A unification has been on the 32-year-old’s mind since winning the title, and this occasion was important enough to make in the middle of his routine trips around the globe when preparing for a fight.
“I just flown from my adopted home of Australia to Ireland, where I’m currently training in the gym I grew up as an amateur,” explained Doheny. “So, we’re there and then we fly out to Boston next week to start working on the game plan and polishing up for the world title fight. I always stop at my amateur gym because my amateur coach is probably one of the best amateur coaches in the world. Very technical coach. His name is Pat Ryan. He has a very professional approach, so I like to go train under Pat because he tunes me up and gets me ready. Then I get to my coach Hector Bermudez in Boston, who, in my opinion, is probably one of the best coaches in the world. He doesn’t just train fighters — he develops world champions. When I got to him I was very amateurish and he has turned me in the past three years into a really rounded pro. I used to get by on my amateur ability but when you get to world level you gotta be a more rounded professional and Hector is the man that has done that for me.”
Earlier on the dais, Doheny proclaimed this was the type of occasion that didn’t need any trash-talk, and even when roman’s promoter Ken Thompson introduced his fighter as the already-unified champ, TJ maintained his idea of what a unification fight should be all about.
“I said to him be careful what you say and don’t get too ahead of yourself,” Doheny jokingly remarked about Thompson. “But look, it’s his promoter. Danny is a very respectful fighter, he’s very confident in his ability, and he knows this fight doesn’t need any of that false hype. We’re just gonna go at it on April 26th. We do our talking in the ring.”
Roman (26-2-1, 10 KOs) had the same respect given when talking about Doheny, and when speaking with RingTV.com, he mentioned the underlying reason why both men seem to have this innate understanding.
“He did the same thing I did,” Roman said. “Went to Japan and won the world title. I’ve been through it and it wasn’t easy. He’s a great boxer, a great fighter, good technician and what more could I ask? He’s champion. He’s proven himself.”
Roman, 28, was elevated into his WBA junior featherweight belt, but went to Japan twice in order to maintain his status and become a full-fledged keeper of the title after beating Ryo Matsumoto. Nicknamed the “Baby Faced Assassin”, Roman was a virtual unknown before making his debut on national television two years ago, when he tactically beat down Adam Lopez to an eventual stoppage. The performance was near-flawless, and was a testament to how fighters can change and turn there careers around after a couple of early blemishes on their record.
“My first losses were at the beginning of my career, and after that I had to make a few adjustments and I realized I can’t brawl all the time,” said Roman. “I had to learn how to box, work on my defense. All that helped me become the champion I am now. Those two losses doesn’t mean the end of the world. I could’ve gave up. I decided to get up from it and give it my best, and look where I am now. Even when I fought in Atlantic City against Adam Lopez. Everybody was talking about Adam Lopez, nobody knew who I was and I surprised everybody. Little events like that, they always put me against good competition. Fighters that will help me become a better fighter. That’s what helped me. Learning from my mistakes and there’s always something to learn even when you win.”
As for the status of his current camp, Roman said he was going straight to the Maywood Boxing Club after the presser to resume preparation at the place he’s always trained. From a 2-1-1 fighter fighting in small club shows to a respected tactician entering a unification, the road to get here wasn’t easy, but Roman has now been blessed with the biggest fight of his life in a place he could only dream of.
“They promised me a fight in L.A. and they gave me Inglewood. I grew up in Inglewood,” Roman said. “It’s the biggest fight of my career and it’s happening in my own backyard. I’m excited.
“But the most important part is the best fight the best. Champion against champion — it shows who is the best. As a fighter, as a boxer, that’s what you want to be: the best.”
Featured on the undercard will be the junior middleweight debut of Jessie Vargas (28-2-2, 10 KOs) and his first fight with famed trainer Freddie Roach … Scott Quigg (35-2-2, 26 KOs), another Roach protege, will take part in a junior lightweight contest … Light heavyweight prospect Anthony Sims Jr. (18-0, 17 KOs) will have a homecoming … Middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco (2-0, 1 KO) will make his U.S. debut … Tickets for the show go on sale March 5.
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