Juan Francisco Estrada claimed a unanimous decision points win over Carlos Cuadras after a thrilling battle between the Mexican super-flyweight rivals.
Cuadras, 29, was supremely confident in the build-up to the fight and had some choice words for his younger opponent at Thursday’s press conference, but it was Estrada who would have the final say, edging out ‘El Principe’ with three scores of 114-113.
After winning the all-action eliminator contest, Estrada, nicknamed ‘El Gallo’, who dropped his opponent in the tenth, will now be in line to fight for the WBC world title as he looks to become a two-weight world champion.
Estrada, 27, quickly found his range and rhythm in a closely fought opener counter-punching well as Cuadras fired home his own sharp, offensive shots.
Cuadras though stepped up his work rate in the second stanza, pushing the action and outworking Estrada as the intensity of the all-Mexican affair quickly gathered momentum.
‘El Gallo’, working behind a potent sharp jab, was proving the more skilled of the pair, but Cuadras continued to march forward and unleash leather.
The rounds continued to be close and very competitive, both fighters having moments of success, neither willing to take a step back, maybe Cuadras slightly edging the first half of the contest.
In the sixth round, the tide started to turn heavily in favour of Estrada though who found some crunching, accurate power punches that snapped the head back of Cuadras, who was starting to show signs of fatigue.
The uppercut was proving a clinical tool for the 27-year-old as it constantly breached the guard of Cuadras.
The seventh was no different and a series of hard, effective right hands seemed to visibly hurt Cuadras whose nose started to bloody.
The Mexican warrior stereotype though kicked into play in the next few and ‘El Principe’ got back on terms, regaining his activity, landing his own right uppercut to take the ninth stanza.
In a classic toe-to-toe encounter, the tide again quickly turned and in the tenth, Estrada found a left to the body which was followed up by a cracking straight right hand that dropped Cuadras to the canvas.
The 29-year-old returned to his feet and soon had to bite down on the gum-shield as a barrage of punches came his way for the final minute of the round, Cuadras doing well to stay on his feet and tiresomely return to his corner.
Estrada finished the outstanding and compelling all-Mexican scrap the better of the two and narrowly took victory on all three scorecards.