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Boxing: Thai star Srisaket set to shine in 2018

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | Srisaket Sor Rungvisai punches Roman Gonzalez during their championship fight for Gonzalez's WBC junior bantamweight title at Madison Square Garden in this March 18, 2017 file photo

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - 

Thai dynamo Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is ready to back up his spectacular 2017, starting with a defense of his World Boxing Council super flyweight world title against Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada on Saturday.

Both fighters made weight on Friday for their world title showdown at the Forum in Los Angeles -- former home of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Srisaket, virtually unknown to US fight fans last year, shot to prominence with an upset of former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden last March.

His majority decision win was tabbed the 2017 "Upset of the Year."

Some, however, believed Gonzalez deserved the decision. But Srisaket silenced doubters with a spectacular fourth-round knockout of Nicaragua's Gonzalez in the rematch in September.

Southpaw Srisaket knocked down "Chocolatito" twice in the final round, finishing him off with a right hook with 1:45 to go in the fourth.

The performances brought plenty of notice, and his rags to ring riches story has prompted comparisons to Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao.

Srisaket takes a record of 44-4-1 with 40 knockouts into the bout against Estrada, a former unified flyweight world champion who brings a record of 36-2 with 25 knockouts.

Estrada said he'll be looking for a knockout.

"I am a fighter who goes from less to more and we will go looking for the knockout to leave no doubt and return with that belt," he said.

"I am very motivated by this fight and very well prepared. I am excited to think about the WBC belt because it is a Mexican organization and I will not let this opportunity pass. He is a fighter that we have to be careful with."

On the same card, International Boxing Federation flyweight world champion Donnie Nietes (40-1-4, 22 knockouts) defends against Juan Carlos Reveco (39-3, 19 knockouts).

© 2018 AFP