Tom Loeffler: ‘We think SuperFly 2 will be a tremendous success’
By: Michael Baca, ucnlive.com
The Palm Restaurant is a typical locale for Tom Loeffler to host a press conference and, in formally introducing “SuperFly 2,” this past Tuesday, everything may have seemed the same on the surface but there was certainly a veiled difference on a personal level for the promoter.
“The name ‘360 Promotions’ stands for working with everyone and working worldwide,” Loeffler explained to UCNLive.com about his new promotional company, which will be the lead promoter of February 24’s card held at The Forum, in Inglewood, California. For years, Loeffler headed K2 Promotions and helped build the careers of retired former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who owns K2, and unified middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin under that banner. When asked why he started 360 Promotions now, after being in the sport for a few decades, Loeffler responded, “It’s the right timing right now. I want to branch out with some other fighters and do some smaller shows. Build fighters on smaller shows. Wladimir retired this year and I had given him my full commitment, when he was fighting.”
360 Promotions doesn’t have any fighters signed yet but its first show is sure to be a success, if it’s anything like the first go-round. A sequel to last September’s “SuperFly” card, in Carson, California, which Loeffler promoted under K2, SuperFly 2 will once again give boxing’s little men a place to be recognized on HBO (9:30 p.m. ET /6:30 p.m. PT) and show that, when compared to the more acknowledged weight classes of the sport, they do it better.
In the main event, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai will look to defend his WBC super flyweight title against mandatory challenger, and No. 1 contender Juan Francisco Estrada and, in the co-feature, Carlos Cuadras will take on McWilliams Arroyo in a fight that may end up with a WBC regional super flyweight trinket on the line and perhaps a shot at the main event’s winner.
“It will be a tripleheader,” Loeffler proclaimed about the HBO card. “There is one more fight that hasn’t been announced yet. We’re looking at making one more world title fight to the HBO broadcast. We’re excited about the show and we think it will be a tremendous success. Hopefully we can continue to shine the spotlight on the fighters of the lighter divisions.”
When asked if the third fight will also be at 115 pounds, Loeffler responded, “It will be in the lower weight classes.” The non-televised undercard, one that will be streamed live by 360 Promotions, features Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria facing undefeated Ukrainian Artem Dalakian for the vacant WBA “regular” flyweight belt.
Estrada, 36-2 (25), looks to obtain his third world title in as many weight classes facing Sor Rungvisai, who knocked out Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in the original SuperFly card last September. Estrada beat Cuadras via unanimous decision on that evening as well, in an entertaining scrap for the mandatory position.
“Fighting Cuadras, I had to wait him out,” Estrada reflected with UCNLive.com. “First few rounds, see what he’s got because we really didn’t know what he’d come up with. The strategy worked. After a few rounds, we finally did attack and we had a positive result. Against Srisaket, we’re going to have to be very smart. Really make sure that we’re trying to do the right things. We can’t go in there and be reckless.”
Srisaket, 44-4-1 (40), was back home in Thailand, training for his second defense of the WBC super flyweight title, and the rugged southpaw is a far different opponent than the busy boxer in Cuadras.
“I’ve fought a lot of left-handers in my career,” Estrada said. “(Hernan) ‘Tyson’ Marquez, Giovani Segura, a Filipino named Richie Mepranum, so I have experience with them. You know, the only thing, when you’re gonna fight a lefty, is you think a lot more and you train a lot different – a little more intense because you rarely see that kind of style. I think it will be a little bit more of a mental game than a physical game. You always have to worry about the head clashes. It’s these little things in the fight you have to be aware of. You can’t fight the same way. You have to be aware of where he is with his feet and his head, so it’s different.”
Fighting out of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Estrada, 27, proclaimed this fight as being the most important of his career and hopes to become a Mexican idol with another win.
“The thing is, I’ve been a world champion before, so I know what it means to be a champion,” said Estrada, “but, at 115, I’m fighting the best fighter in the world. A lot of people say he is the best pound-for-pound now, so it’s important to beat the best. If you want to become the best, you have to beat the best fighters in the world.”
As for holding out hope he can get a chance to avenge a 2012 defeat to Roman Gonzalez, Estrada was still open to the idea but, with Chocolatito’s future being a question mark, after suffering the brutal knockout to Srisaket, there was a stipulation saying, “Hopefully he’ll come back and win a championship and then unifying a world championship would be great. So yeah, I’m hoping that, with us both as champions, we can fight again.”
Cuadras, 36-2-1 (27), was his usual, flamboyant self at the presser, despite losing two of his last three fights. Perhaps that’s because he’s found a new confidence, since hiring Abel Sanchez as his trainer for this fight.
“I think, in the last fight, it didn’t happen,” Cuadras told UCNLive.com on the timing of this corner change. “I was hoping to do great things and I wasn’t able to do them. So I thought I needed changes to get to that next level.”
Sanchez, who was in attendance, revealed, during the presser, that Cuadras was originally slated to train at his gym in Big Bear, California, for the Estrada fight but it didn’t work out logistically. Asked to elaborate, Cuadras said, “I had already started training in Mexico, in the mountains. When they told me I could come over there, it was already a month before the fight and I didn’t think that would do me any good. If I came in regular timing, a couple of months before, I would’ve been in much better shape and more ready for the fight.”
Sanchez’s gym, The Summit, has been described as being a disciplined sanctuary that doesn’t have room for egos or laziness. “When you’re up there, all you do is train, eat and rest,” Cuadras explained. “My body is responding very well to it and I think that’s what I needed to do, at this point, in my career. I’m disciplined; there’s no distractions and nothing to do up there, so it keeps me away from everything. I’m just doing what I need to do.”
Cuadras, 29, finds himself having to work for his shot at reclaiming a world title at 115 pounds and, in this match-up with Arroyo, he says it can be a fight that rekindles the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry.
“It’s one of those things where, as a fighter, you hope that they come in the best shape ever,” said Cuadras. “That makes me feel great because if (Arroyo)’s at his best – I know I’m going to be at my best – we’ll give the fans a great fight. That’s what we want to do. I know, if I win this fight, I will get another championship opportunity and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
As for a potential move up in weight, Cuadras admitted that day may come but there is still unfinished business in the super flyweight class, saying, “Losing is not in my mind. All I’m thinking about is winning a title at 115 pounds. Maybe, if I win the title, I won’t have any defenses and go up to 118.”
Arroyo, 16-3 (14), will end a 22-month layoff from the ring, on February 24, and make his debut in the super flyweight division in the Cuadras fight.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t have any excuses,” Arroyo said about his layoff. “I was training, waiting for a date and, after fighting Chocolatito, (I thought) the doors would be open and I would be more active. Things happen. I had a lot of fights and they’d tell me, last minute, that fight wasn’t going on anymore. I was working out for each fight but I wasn’t fighting. It wasn’t in my hands. It wasn’t my choice. If it was, I would be fighting two or three times a year. I don’t know what happened, really. My work is train and go fight.”
Fighting out of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Arroyo, endured the hellish hurricanes that ravaged the island, last summer, and, as imagined, it made the life of a fighter seem like a cake walk.
“We had to adapt. In my case, it was a month and week without electricity. Living in those circumstances was not easy,” said Arroyo, whose wife also gave birth to their second child last year.
“All my life, I’ve fought at 112. Me moving up to 115, I believe, is going to help me out,” Arroyo said on his move to super flyweight. “I was at 112 since I was 21 and, now, I’m 32. Once I start dropping the little pounds I have, I won’t feel the effect of dropping it.”
An accomplished amateur, Arroyo wasn’t necessarily convinced his body was rejuvenated, during his layoff, saying, “Well, maybe but I am still working everyday. Monday through Saturday, I’m working very hard.”
“He’s a great fighter. Excellent fighter,” Arroyo said about Cuadras. “I know it’s going to be a hard fight and, to tell you the truth, I feel positive and I am going to go for the win.”
The last time we saw Arroyo was in the Forum, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Chocolatito. When asked what he thought happened to the man who pioneered this revolution of the little guys on HBO, McWilliams said he saw the beginning of the end that night.
“I believe, in my fight with Chocolatito, I think he lost certain things in that fight,” Arroyo stated. “After the fight, I looked him in the eyes and he didn’t want to talk to me. I wondered why. I guess he talked too much and thought he was going to knock me out and, since he didn’t, I think he lost a little bit of confidence. Then I saw his fight with Cuadras and I didn’t see him as the same. The first fight with Rungvisai, I didn’t see him that confident either and, then in the rematch, he got knocked out.”