By Jack Tiernan: DAZN has an incredible card on February 5th with Jessie Vargas facing Liam Smith in the main event at 154 and super flyweights Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Carlos Cuadras in the co-feature bout.
It’s a questionable move by DAZN to place this great card on February 5th because there are two high-profile fights taking place on different networks involving Keith Thurman’s comeback fight against Mario Barrios on FOX PPV and former 140-lb champion Jose Ramirez facing former two-division world champion Jose Pedraza on ESPN.
The former two-division world champion Jessie Vargas (29-3-2, 11 KOs) will be coming off a two-year layoff to face former WBO junior middleweight champion Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith (30-3-1, 17 KOs) in the headliner.
Unfortunately, the Smith vs. Vargas won’t have a title at stake, but it will boost the winner’s rankings and bring them closer to getting a title shot against one of the champions.
Liam Smith, 33, lost his WBO 154-lb title in 2016 to Canelo Alvarez by a ninth round knockout. Before that, Smith had captured his WBO strap with victory over John Thompson in 2015.
Smith then made two low-level defenses against obscure opposition in title-milking fights before facing Canelo in front of 50,000+ fans at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in 2016.
Liam gave Canelo a lot of problems with his high-pressure fighting style, which involved a high punch output. However, Smith couldn’t keep up the pace and wound up gassing out and getting stopped in the ninth round.
As for Jessie Vargas, 32, his career has gone downhill since losing his WBO 147-lb title to Manny Pacquiao in 2016 by a 12 round unanimous decision.
Since that fight, Vargas has had two draws against Adrien Broner and Thomas Dulorme, a loss to Mikey Garcia and wins over Humberto Soto and Aaron Herrera.
Two years ago, Vargas lost to Mikey Garcia by a 12 round unanimous decision in the main event on DAZN in February 2020 in Frisco, Texas.
In the co-feature bout, which has more on the line, former WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43 KOs) will be taking on former WBC 115-lb champion Carlos Cuadras (39-4-1, 27 KOs) in a 12 round fight.
The vacant WBC super flyweight title will be on the line for the Rungvisai vs. Cuadras match. This is the previously held WBC title by Juan Francisco Estrada, elevated to WBC Franchise 115-lb champion by the World Boxing Council.
Rungvisai, 35, lost his WBC 115-lb title to Juan Estrada by a 12 round unanimous decision three years ago in April 2019.
Since then, Rungvisai has won his last three fights, beating Amnat Ruenroeng, Jomar Fajardo, and Ekkawit Songnui.
Rungvisai beat Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez twice in 2016 and defeated Juan Estrada in 2018. It’s unlikely that Rungvisai will be given another shot against Chocolatito and Estrada because he’s dangerous for them.
Those are two popular, and it’s better that they not mix it up with Rungvisai because he involves too much risk without a big payday due to his lack of popularity in the U.S.
It’s just surprising that Rungvisai was allowed to fight Estrada and Chocolatito twice. But at this point in their careers, it’s safe to say they will likely never fight Rungvisai again.
Their promoters are too smart to risk putting them in with the powerful Thai in a trilogy match.
As I mentioned earlier, on the same night as the DAZN event, former welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) will be coming out of a 31-month layoff to take on former WBA light welterweight champion Mario Barrios in the main event on FOX PPV.
Many boxing fans are already grumbling about the Thurman vs. Barrios fight being on PPV because they don’t recognize it as a PPV-worthy fight or card.
On ESPN+ on February 5th, former WBC/WBO 140-lb champion Jose Ramirez will fight Jose Pedraza. Also, on the card, middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jr. will take on Liam Williams in middleweight action.