By Scott Gilfoid
WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai (23-0, 14 KOs) says he’s going to make one more defense of his title in May of this year, and then defend against former three division world champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs), and then face WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40 KOs) in a unification fight.
Yafai, 28, beat IBF mandatory challenger Sho Ishida by a close 12 round unanimous decision on October 28 last year in Cardiff, Wales. That was not an easy fight for Yafai. He won, but he didn’t shine in the fight.
“If I can make another defence of my title, hopefully, we can then get the Gonzalez fight and then we want Sor Rungvisai on the back of that,” Yafai said to skysports.com.
I wouldn’t give Yafai any chances at all of beating Rungvisai. That would be a mismatch, a bad one. Before Yafai thinks of fighting Rungvisai, he should take on IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas. That guy is not as powerful as Rungvisai, but he would at least test whether Yafai belongs inside the same ring with the Thailand fighter. Ancajas would be a hard fight for Yafai. It’s a doable fight if Yafai’s promoter Eddie Hearn is willing to make it.
Top Rank, the promoters for Ancajas, would likely jump at the chance of making a fight between him and Yafai. Ancajas has a lot of punching power, and he’s a devastating body puncher. I would pick Ancajas to beat Yafai if that fight happens. It’s not that I don’t rate Yafai as a good fighter. It’s just that Ancajas, 26, is younger, stronger and a brutal body puncher. Yafai likes to move around the ring to avoid getting hit. Ancajas is good at throwing a stabbing jab to the midsection of his opponents that run from him the way Yafai likely would.
Yafai chose not to fight on the recent SuperFly2 card. That would have given him some tremendous exposure if he’d fought on the card. But if Yafai did fight on the card, he would have been expected to fight a quality opponent. The organizers of the SuperFly2 card wouldn’t have likely agreed to let Yafai fight a bottom feeder in a sure thing victory.
They would have expected a quality opponent for him, and I’m not sure that Hearn would have been on board with that idea. He’s trying to keep Yafai winning, and obviously he would have been in trouble if he’d been thrown into the ring with the likes of Gonzalez, Jonas Sultan, Ancajas, Miguel Gonzalez or Rex Tso.
Yafai is really taking his time getting to the Rungvisai fight, isn’t he? With all the bragging he’s been doing about his talent, he should have fought Rungvisai ages ago. Yafai is really waiting like mad before he faces Rungvisai. The thing is, I don’t see the Rungvisai-Yafai ever happening, I really don’t. Unless the 30-year-old Chocolatito is totally shot, and I don’t think he is, he’s going to embarrass Yafai by giving him a boxing lesson in the process of knocking him out.
Gonzalez’s two defeats to Rungvisai in his last two fights were more of a product of him facing a guy with too much power for him to handle. Rungvisai is like a miniature Gennady Golovkin. You can’t blame Gonzalez for not being able to handle Rungvisai’s power. I mean, look like Juan Francisco Estrada. He ran from Rungvisai through three-fourths of their recent fight on February 24 and lost whatever chance he had of winning by not staying in the pocket.
The scoring was laughable. Rungvisai deserved to win that fight by 10 rounds to 2. Estrada fought well in round 8 and 12, and that’s it. Gonzalez is not the same fighter at 115 that he was when he was fighting at 105, 108 and 112. Gonzalez was more suited to those weight classes than he is at super flyweight at 115.
Gonzalez is expected to fight an opponent still to be determined on the undercard of the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rematch on May 5 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Yafai will fight in May as well, so his schedule will be the same.
“He’s had those back-to-back losses so if he can come back and win well – I’ve heard he is fighting in May – then it sets it up perfectly for us,” Yafai said of Gonzalez.
Yafai’s fight in May will obviously be a voluntary defense against one of the lower level contenders in the World Boxing Association’s top 15 rankings. Yafai is not likely to take on a quality fighter, because he could get beaten. Yafai’s No.1 contender in the WBA’s rankings right now is Roman Gonzalez. Yafai will likely fight a guy that is well-known like Hernan Marquez next. He’s one of the better-known fighters in the WBA’s top 15 when eliminate Gonzalez and Luis Concepcion from the list.
Yafai already beat Concepcion two years ago by a 12 round unanimous decision, so he’s not going to face him. Marquez (43-8-2, 30 KOs) has a 2-fight winning streak after losing to Iran Diaz by a 10 round unanimous decision and fighting to an 9 round draw against Jose Quuirino in 2017. Yafai’s promoter Eddie Hearn will almost surely be looking to match him against Hernan Marquez in his fight in May. Marquez has losses to Concepcion, McJoe Arroyo, Juan Francisco Estrada, Nonito Donaire, Brian Viloria, Giovanni Segura and Richie Mepranum.
There are guys that Yafai can beat in the 115 lb. weight class, but not Gonzalez or Rungvisai. Those guys are too talented and powerful for hi. If this is a cash out type situation for Yafai, then I can understand him wanting to fight Chocolatito and Rungivai, but I can’t see him beating either of those two in this lifetime. They’re too good.