Srisaket vows to wrest back title

Srisaket vows to wrest back title

Rodriguez aims to prevent Thai fighter from making history

Back in the ring: WBC super-flyweight champion Jesse Rodriguez, left, and challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai pose during the weigh-in in San Antonio, Texas.
Back in the ring: WBC super-flyweight champion Jesse Rodriguez, left, and challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai pose during the weigh-in in San Antonio, Texas.

Srisaket "Laem" Sor Rungvisai and WBC super-flyweight champion Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez are both confident of winning their bout at the Tech Port Arena in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday.

The Thai challenger will be bidding to win the title for a third time while the American will make his first defence of the crown.

Both weighed in at 114.6 pounds, just below the 115 pound limit, ahead of their showdown which will be televised live on Thai Rath TV from 9.30am.

Srisaket, 35, had been due to face Carlos Cuadras in a rematch in February but had to pull out with a kidney problem.

He was subsequently replaced by the 22-year-old Rodriguez of the US, who jumped two divisions to claim the vacant WBC super-flyweight title by beating Cuadras.

"I have been training hard and am healthy now. I feel very confident [of beating Rodriguez]," Srisaket, whose real name is Wisaksil Wangek, told a press conference on Friday.

"Jesse is a young fighter and I will use my experience to beat him and bring the belt back home."

The 35-year-old is renowned as a power puncher but unbeaten Rodriguez said he is not worried about it.

He said that there are several factors for boxers to win apart from power punching.

"I am the champion," said Rodriguez, the youngest world title-holder at the moment.

"I am faster and younger and this will help me retain the title."

Rodriguez (15-0, 10KOs), who turned professional as a 17-year-old, will make the first defence of the belt.

"Jesse might be the youngest current world champion, but this is a fight where he can prove he already belongs with the very best in boxing," said his trainer Robert Garcia.

"We have a lot of respect for Rungvisai. We know what he is capable of. He is a great fighter but I also know what Jesse is capable of."

Srisaket first became the WBC super-flyweight champion in 2013 when he beat Japan's Yota Sato in his home province of Si Sa Ket.

He lost the crown the following year after his defeat against Mexico's Carlos Cuadras.

The Thai shot to prominence on the international stage in 2017 when he regained the title by upsetting heavy favourite Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua, then rated as the best pound-per-pound boxer, at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Srisaket beat Gonzalez in a rematch later that year at StubHub Center in California.

He lost the title to Juan Francisco Estrada in a rematch in 2019 at the Forum in California, having retained the crown with a win over Mexican at the same venue in 2018.

"I'm hungrier than ever," Srisaket (50-5-1, 43KOs) said in a recent interview.

"I really want to be a three-time WBC world champion. I would be the first Thai boxer in history to achieve that."

His promoter Surachart Pisitwuttinan believes his fighter will emerge winner.

"Rodriguez is a great champion, but Srisaket will win," he said.

Srisaket is already looking beyond today's bout.

"I would like to face Estrada and Gonzalez after this fight. That is my ultimate goal," Srisaket said.

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