Juan Francisco Estrada can prove himself and improve his legacy in 2024

Juan Francisco Estrada might be the best super flyweight of the era.

But he won’t fight on the big New Year’s Eve card in Japan that will see the WBA super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka face lesser-known Josber Perez. 

The event was originally set for Ioka to face Estrada in a fight that would crown a great of their era. Estrada holds two wins over Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, even though some might object to those decisions. Ioka defeated Joshua Franco as well as other tough opposition, but he has lacked the big win. 

Estrada has beaten the boogeymen of the era – Gonzalez and Srisakaet Sor Rungvisai, but he has struggled with inactivity. 

The lower weights, especially flyweight, have become beloved by fight fans because the most significant contests happen with more regularity. Franco spent a good period pursuing an Estrada fight before relinquishing his WBA title in August 2022. Now the pattern has emerged. 

Ioka, 34, is riding an eight-fight unbeaten streak. Despite a draw to Joshua Franco in 2022, Ioka beat Franco in their rematch, avenged a loss to Donnie Nietes, beat tough veteran Francisco Rodriguez and dominated supposed rising star Kosei Tanaka. 

Ioka is a legitimate world champion in a division that has two very interesting big-name fighters in Juan Francisco Estrada and Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez. 

Estrada, age 33, has only fought once a year since 2020. Sure, two of those were great contests with Roman Gonzalez but there was an unexpectedly competitive bout with Argi Cortes, in which Estrada delivered a confusing performance which arguably illustrated that Estrada can fight up and down to the level of his opposition. 

Estrada has now been out of the ring for a year. He is a pound-for-pound fighter. He has been called out by ‘Bam’ Rodriguez and was going to fight Ioka but neither have happened.

What does Estrada want at this point in his career? Heading into 2024, it seems like he is at a crossroads. If Estrada only wants big fights for a big payday, he might never return. Who knows? 

It all seems like a quiet way to close out such an impressive career. After obtaining generational wins, he appears content to be anonymous. There is a lot of potential at super flyweight and we will soon find out what Estrada still wants from the sport, if he wants to continue to defend his WBC super flyweight world title and if he wants to take part in the big fights that could add to his legacy.