A Fly by night operation?
By Gav Duthie: One of the great successes of 2017 was the HBO SuperFly card put on at the back end of the year. The network had been trying exhaustively to promote P4P contender Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and this card was seen as one of the ways to do it. It’s very difficult to market anything below featherweight and there hasn’t really been any potential lower weight stars since Ricardo Lopez in the 1990s.
Gonzalez had been on a few undercards as chief support to the likes of Gennady Golovkin but after his shock loss in fight of the year contender against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai HBO felt a rematch could lead a card of its own. The card was a huge success with great numbers and a second card was recently announced for February but with nowhere near the depth of talent. Is what looked a promising concept going to be killed off before it has really started?
Top Contenders – Superfly 1
Sor Rungvisai 43-4-1 v Roman Gonzalez 46-1
Juan Francisco Estrada 35-2 v Carlos Cuadras 36-1-1
Naoya Inoue 13-0 v Antonio Nieves 17-1-2
Brian Viloria 37-5 v Miguel Cartagena 15-3-1
The great thing about the card was that other than the main event there was a great contest involving Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras. There was also Brian Viloria in action and arguably the best fighter in the division Naoye Inoue. In short there were 5/6 top fighters in the division in action. Rungvisai destroyed Gonzalez in round 4 whilst Estrada and Cuadras fought a fight of the year nomination.
Poor Contenders – SuperFly 2
Sor Rungvisai 44-4-1 (40) v Juan Francisco Estrada 36-2 (25)
Carlos Cuadras 36-2-1 (27) v McWilliams Arroyo 16-3 (14)
Brian Viloria 38-5 (23) v Artem Dalskian 15-0 (11)
Superfly 2 has the obvious main event, no question. The two winners of the big fights last time out in Rungvisai and Estrada face each other but the supporting cast is weak. Cuadras deserves another crack no doubt but squaring up to McWilliams Arroyo is not what I had in mind. I also feel continuing to use ‘The Hawaiian Punch’ Brian Viloria is poor. Viloria was a great fighter but at 37 years old if you haven’t seen him by now then you’ve missed the best of him.
All about the money?
Apart from Sor Rungvisai most of the big names in the division are missing. Eddie Hearn said Khal Yafai was approached but would have made less money than his defence against Sho Ishida on the Joshua-Takam undercard. Roman Gonzalez has announced he will continue fighting but has no presence in the card. Naoya Inoue fights in two days and has confirmed after this he is moving up so obviously no good offers have been made for him to face any of the big boys further down the line. There is also no place for Rau’shee Warren, who has moved down from Bantamweight and one of the bigger names in America. Jerwin Ancajas was also one of the best fighters P4P in the whole of 2017, but he is fighting earlier in the month on a Gilberto Ramirez undercard.
The future of Superfly
I do feel that the Rungvisai v Estrada fight will be fantastic so that might be enough to support a further SuperFly card in the future but it needs more big stars. The networks know how difficult it is to promote the smaller guys so the cards need to be stacked with quality and the fighters paid what they deserve.