Juan Francisco Estrada is prepared to take the first step to become a three-division titleholder.
The reigning lineal and WBC junior bantamweight champion is prepared to campaign at bantamweight beginning with his next bout, which is targeted for next March. Neither an opponent, location nor the stakes have been made available to BoxingScene.com, other than the move viewed as a necessity by Estrada absent one more lucrative option at his current weight.
The decision was confirmed during the sanctioning body’s weekly ‘Martes de Café’ meetings in Mexico City. It also came as former full titleholder Carlos Cuadras was formerly presented with his copy of the interim title to honor his November 17 points victory over countryman Pedro Guevara in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Cuadras became the mandatory challenger to the full title held by Hermosillo, Mexico’s Estrada (44-3, 28KOs), who will now go all of 2023 without a fight. His previous bout and win came in a twelve-round, majority decision over legendary former four-division champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez last December 3 in Glendale, Arizona.
Attributing to the lengthy inactive period was Estrada’s failed bid to secure a New Year’s Eve unification bout versus Japan’s Kazuto Ioka (30-2-1, 15KOs). The two were in talks for weeks before the process eventually hit a wall. Ioka will instead defend his WBA title versus Venezuela’s Josber Perez (20-3, 16KOs).
Estrada’s name was loosely tied to a fourth fight versus Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs), whose handlers immediately shot down any such plans.
Estrada regained the WBC 115-pound title in his rubber match win over Gonzalez after having previously let go of the physical belt to claim WBC ‘Franchise’ designation. He previously held the title dating back to his April 2019 win over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to avenge a defeat fourteen months prior. Among his title defenses was a split decision victory over Gonzalez in their March 2021 rematch for both the WBC and WBA junior bantamweight titles.
Their trilogy clash last December did big business at the box office and for their wallets, though the talent-rich 115-pound division was dealt a reality check in the past year. Estrada and Gonzalez both went without a fight, while Ioke is forced to settle for a less desirable opponent, all as a result as the same paydays not being available as was the case one year ago.
Nevertheless, the 33-year-old is eager to resume his career even if at a new weight. He previously held the unified WBA ‘Super’ and WBO flyweight titles before he permanently moved up in 2016 to junior bantamweight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox