INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Juan Francisco Estrada defeated Srisaket Sor Rungvisai by unanimous decision to capture the WBC junior bantamweight title Friday night at the Forum in a rematch of last year's battle that Sor Rungvisai won by majority decision.
All three judges scored the fight for Estrada, 116-112 and 115-113 (twice). ESPN also had the fight for Estrada 115-113.
It's rare that a sequel lives up to a highly acclaimed original, but that's precisely what happened in this anticipated rematch.
When these two fought in February 2018 in the same building, it was Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41 KOs) who built an early lead on the strength of his left cross from a southpaw stance. Estrada (39-3, 26 KOs) closed hard down the stretch, but his rally came up short. Their back-and-forth battle was one of the best fights of the year.
On Friday night, the southpaw from Thailand started off in the orthodox stance and would only sporadically go back to his more natural left-handed stance.
"He surprised me a bit by that. Because he is always lefty, it surprised me that he was righty tonight," Estrada said. "But I felt him out well when he fought right-handed."
Estrada capitalized on that odd tactical decision from the outset to consistently beat Sor Rungvisai to the punch, while also boxing him adroitly from the outside.
There were plenty of heated exchanges where punches were landed by both, but it was Estrada usually coming out on top of those battles. Through it all, Estrada showed a good chin when he was hit by plenty of left hands from Sor Rungvisai. For the most part, Estrada shrugged them off.
Going into the later rounds, it was clear that Sor Rungvisai was behind on the cards, but he began to land more regularly on Estrada in Round 9. Going into the final round, it seemed like Estrada would have to seal the fight with one more strong round of work, which is precisely what he did in a three-minute stanza that was capped off by letting the punches fly with the fans on their feet.
"I needed to show the Mexican fans and everyone here tonight that I was going to win that belt," said a joyous Estrada, who has cemented his status as an elite fighter.
So how bout Estrada-Sor Rungvisai III?
"If he wants a third fight, I will give it to him," Estrada said. "I would prefer to fight some other champion first. That's what I think is next."