As the long-awaited rematch between Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada approaches, Boxing Social’s Luke G. Williams is revisiting, fight-by-fight, the nine-bout series between Gonzalez, Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras, which has provided boxing fans with a 21st Century equivalent of the 1980s Four Kings series… Today he reexamines the first contest between Estrada and Cuadras from 2017…

Juan Francisco Estrada W12 Carlos Cuadras (unanimous decision), September 9, 2017, California.

After his valiant defeat against Gonzalez in a light-flyweight world title fight in 2012, Juan Francisco Estrada dusted himself down, regrouped and bravely hurtled straight into a flyweight contest against the accomplished Brian Viloria in Macao for the WBA and WBO titles. Viloria entered the fight as the favourite but ‘El Gallo’ proved too strong on the inside and triumphed via a split decision.

Estrada would defend those titles on an impressive five occasions before a serious hand injury in 2015 put him out of action for a year. On his return, the Mexican announced he was moving up to the stacked super-fly division, making it clear he was seeking “big fights” against the likes of Gonzalez and unbeaten Japanese phenom Naoya Inoue, who was then also campaigning at 115lbs.

Estrada’s first major opportunity in his new weight class came on the first of Tom Loeffler/K2 promotions’ innovative ‘Superfly’ cards. He was matched with Carlos Cuadras, himself also seeking to make a case for a shot at the WBC super-fly title he had ceded to Gonzalez the previous year. It was expected that the winner of this battle would face the winner of the Gonzalez-Srisaket contest, taking place on the same card on the same night at the StubHub Center.

The ensuing fight was as tense as it was tightly contested. Cuadras settled the quicker, his darting movement unsettling Estrada as he scored with quick combinations, but by the midway point of the fight Estrada was into his rhythm, as he closed down the distance and hurt Cuadras to body and head.

Many rounds were extremely tight, however, and the contest ultimately hinged on a stiff straight right from Estrada in round 10, which sent his fellow Mexican to the canvas. The knockdown proved decisive as Estrada was made a 114-113 winner on all three judges’ cards.

Unfortunately, MC Michael Buffer initially announced ‘Carlos Estrada’ as the winner, leading Cuadras to believe he had won and celebrate wildly, only for a correction to be issued soon afterwards.

It was an unfortunately farcical conclusion to an otherwise magnificent contest. Cuadras, for his part, also bitterly contested the decision, claiming: “I won the fight, I landed the harder punches. No way he beat me. The knockdown was a slip, I was never hurt. I want an immediate rematch.”

A rematch would come – but not for just over three years, by which time Estrada would be the reigning WBC super-fly champion and Cuadras would have been to hell and back in his personal life. 

Main photo: Photo by AFLO/PA Images