Two big trilogy fights are scheduled for Saturday in different parts of the world. Tyson Fury defends his WBC heavyweight world title against Derek Chisora in London (ESPN+, 1 p.m. ET), while in Glendale, Arizona, Juan Francisco Estrada takes on Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in a rubber match for Estrada’s WBC franchise title (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET).
Nowadays, global boxing superstars accumulate wealth by understanding their worth and the overall market. Fury fits this bill perfectly. Ninety-four thousand people came out to see Fury stop Dillian Whyte in six rounds at London’s Wembley Stadium back in April. Now, 50 thousand-plus are expected to attend his unnecessary — but still eventful — third fight with Chisora, whom Fury has beaten twice before. This matchup could be as one-sided as the first two, as Chisora has won only two of the 22 rounds they have fought thus far. But the interest in this fight lies here: If Fury loses, an undisputed championship fight between him and Oleksandr Usyk, two of the best fighters in the world, might never happen.
Estrada vs. Gonzalez 3 doesn’t need any premeditated drama, conflict or chaos to hype the fans. Both fighters throw punches in bunches with controlled aggression.
Two completely different skill sets govern this trilogy. Estrada and Gonzalez have similar dispositions but entirely different approaches. I’m not here to bore you with clichés to describe this fight, but I will say we have all heard the tale of two people who fall in love immediately and call themselves soulmates. Can there be soulmates in boxing? A match made possible by the boxing gods? I want to think it’s possible.
Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier, Arturo Gatti-“Irish” Micky Ward, Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez — all three of the fights between these pairs were epic. Therefore, history tells us there is no reason this third matchup between Estrada and Gonzalez would be less exciting and entertaining than the first two.
Tyson Fury vs. Derek Chisora 3
Can Chisora bring something different this time?
Chisora is tenacious. He fights one way: all gas, no brakes. He has mastered the style of no retreat, no surrender, as a tough slugging swarmer whose gift is visible to any spectator who watches him compete. What he doesn’t possess in skill, he makes up for in will. His recent split-decision victory over Kubrat Pulev was an example of his all-out aggressive style. I see nothing different in this fight with Fury. Chisora is who he is, a 38-year-old all-or-nothing fighter who will give it his all.
Can Fury motivate himself enough for this fight while looking at Usyk next?
Fury was bored being retired. His free-spirited soul needs organization. Boxing provides that necessity in his life, and productivity fuels a man of his nature. The motivation comes from his training and being the best version of himself. This fight is not about Chisora at all. It’s all about Tyson Fury. What’s in front of Fury is all that matters.
How can Fury win? How can Chisora win?
Fury can win the same way he won the last time he faced Chisora in 2014. But for the fans’ sake, we need a dramatic finish this time. Play with him for a few rounds and let Chisora wear down a bit, just as Fury did with Whyte, and then look for the straight right hand or uppercut and knock his spark out.
Chisora needs to avoid being clinched and leaned on. He must time Fury as he reaches out to try and tie him up. A half-step back, then firing an uppercut, could land for him, and a punch Fury doesn’t see or expect coming could potentially hurt him.
Chisora is on the decline, as his fighting style has shortened his time at the top level of boxing while Fury is still in his prime — fighting, boxing and punching harder than ever before. Fury can turn it on or off as he chooses. I expect a dramatic finish. Fury by spectacular knockout.
Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez 3
What does Estrada do well, and how can that be successful against Gonzalez?
Estrada’s technique, control and well-planned attacks can offset Gonzalez’s high-volume, aggressive style. Slight lateral movement combined with various combination packages will keep Gonzalez occupied defensively. And that will allow Estrada to pile up points. Precision can beat volume, as punching at the right time and at the appropriate range is essential for Estrada to get the victory. Estrada’s jab up- and downstairs would bring Gonzalez’s head closer, as Gonzalez leans forward, primarily using a high guard to deflect and entice his opponent’s offense.
Gonzalez’s improved head movement provides more countering opportunities in his favor if Estrada doesn’t use his various jabs and well-placed punches to offset him. However, Estrada’s full arsenal can take advantage of the gifted openings when someone primarily uses the high guard like Gonzalez.
What does Gonzalez do well, and how can he use it against Estrada?
To describe Gonzalez’s boxing style, I would compare it to an avalanche. It’s a build-up of tension, energy slowly progressing over time before giving way to a violent assault that few have survived. Gonzalez is constantly in motion, and that requires a lot of concentration for the opposite fighter. Concentration depletes overall energy, and so does constant pressure. Estrada is a technical boxer-puncher who can keep up with a fast pace. However, he needs to conserve energy as his pace gradually increases. When Estrada is out of sync, Gonzalez should turn up the pressure. Bite down and drag him deep within. Fight like it’s your last time ever in the ring — because it could be.
From their first two fights, Gonzalez should have masterfully picked up on Estrada’s patterns of attacks because of his experience, allowing him to exploit one of Estrada’s untold weaknesses: pride.
How can Estrada win? How can Gonzalez win?
There should be very little change in Gonzalez’s approach. Isolation is his key to victory. Therefore, turning a 20-foot ring into a 10-foot ring will always make him successful against Estrada. Space is essential for Estrada to operate proficiently. Estrada’s jab and side-clearing left hook help him control distance and area. So taking away Estrada’s lead hand is critical. To accomplish that, Gonzalez can throw a lot of right hands to the head and to the body. Attacking the body in the first half of the fight can help keep Estrada stationary for Gonzalez’s overwhelming assaults. In other words, chop him up.
Estrada has to outbox Gonzalez one round at a time. Use lateral movement to set traps. He should avoid staying on the ropes at all costs. Instead, he should control the ring’s center with his jab and selective combinations. For example, 1-2 and left, with the 3 going to the body of Gonzalez. He should place those punches in between and around his high guard.
Estrada should use clinching to help slow the pace instead of being forced out of position and getting caught during the process. Also, clinching will help manage the time and angles Gonzalez likes to take on the inside. In a nutshell, Estrada needs to break Gonzalez’s forward-moving momentum and offset his rhythm, ultimately preventing him from ever getting started.
Too close to call. Gonzalez looked terrific against a young, determined power puncher in Julio Cesar Martinez back in March, and Estrada looked vulnerable in spots against top contender Argi Cortes in September. Cortes tested the living legend in that fight. I can see a draw and a fourth installment of the rivalry, or Gonzalez getting the win he rightfully deserves this time, especially after the controversial decision last time out. This should be a memorable battle.