- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Unified flyweight titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, one of the most underrated fighters in boxing, returns to action Saturday night in his hometown of Puerto Penasco, Mexico.
Estrada will be making his second title defense when he faces Richie Mepranum (27-3-1, 6 KOs), 26, of the Philippines.
The 24-year-old Estrada is excited to have his first world title bout in his hometown after being on the road for his first three title fights.
"I am very motivated and excited," Estrada said. "I cannot believe what I dreamed many times is slowly becoming a reality and now I defend my titles in front of my people. It's incredibly exciting. Thank God for all that has been given to me. We will make a great defense and we will have a big party."
Estrada (25-2, 18 KOs) lost a decision to Roman Gonzalez in a 2012 junior flyweight title fight in Los Angeles that was a fight of the year contender. Then Estrada moved up in weight to upset unified titlist Brian Viloria in Macau last April in an excellent performance. Estrada returned to Macau to make his first defense, a wide decision win against mandatory challenger Milan Melindo, who tasted the canvas in the 11th round.
If Estrada beats Mepranum, he likely will move on to a much bigger fight against former junior flyweight champ Giovani Segura (32-3-1, 28 KOs) in a fight so interesting it warrants American premium cable consideration. (You listening, HBO and Showtime?)
The fight will be Mepranum's second world title shot. He lost by fifth-round knockout to then-titleholder Julio Cesar Miranda in 2010.
In the fight before that, Mepranum outpointed former flyweight titlist Hernan "Tyson" Marquez (36-4, 26 KOs), 25, of Mexico, who faces John Mark Apolinario (17-3-3, 4 KOs), 24, of the Philippines, on Saturday’s undercard. In his last fight, Apolinario lost a decision in a bantamweight world title fight to Koki Kameda in Tokyo last July.