PHUKET, Thailand – Ratanachai Sor Vorapin overcame a shaky start and several rocky moments to do enough to earn majority decision Friday afternoon and successfully make the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title on Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand. With the Andaman Sea as a backdrop, a mixture of tourists and raucous Thai fans watched the two southpaws duke it out in what was a back and forth battle to the end.
In the opening stanza a surprised Sor Vorapin was caught with what would be the first of many straight lefts from Martinez and only the ropes kept him from hitting the canvas. Martinez continued to befuddle Sor Vorapin in round two with his jab and quick combinations, but by the third round the Thai had begun landing straight lefts of his own.
Sor Vorapin mauled and brawled and fouled, taking charge in the middle rounds until a headbutt changed the ebb and flow of the fight once again. As both fighters came in to throw punches, the head of Martinez smashed into the right eye of Sor Vorapin, who then turned his back on Martinez, clearly dazed. It only took a split second for Martinez to seize the opportunity and jump in with a huge left that staggered the champion and drove him into the ropes. Martinez proceeded to dish out a barrage of unanswered punches but was unable to finish the champion by the round’s end.
Round nine saw Sor Vorapin hanging on to Martinez, doing little more than smiling for the crowd and hitting Martinez while doing so. Referee Samuel Viruet issued two warnings to Sor Vorapin for holding and hitting, but Sor Vorapin continued to do so unabated. The Martinez corner was livid, screaming at the referee to take a point. Much to their dismay, no point was taken. The Thai then landed a few low blows, but those stopped when Martinez landed one of his own punches south of the border.
For the next two rounds Sor Vorapin connected with hard right hooks to the body. Both fighters were visibly tiring and the pace slowed. Martinez made a final push for the title in round twelve but it wouldn't be enough.
Judges Ruben Garcia and Salven Lagumbay both scored it 116-112 for Sor Vorapin, and judge Jose R. Torres had it even at 114-114.
Sor Vorapin was less than impressive and could have easily lost his title. He was hurt badly on two instances, warned twice for fouling and made to miss and miss often by Martinez. He will need to improve his performance if he's to get through some of the other fighters in his division who lay ahead of him.
On the undercard, undefeated WBO #1 super bantamweight Sod Looknongyangtoy (25-0, 10 KOs) scored three knockdowns before finally stopping Indonesia fighter Yusup Bodini at 2:56 of round three. Looknongyangtoy is now scheduled to meet Daniel Ponce De Leon for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title recently given up by Joan Guzman as he moves up in weight.
Also in action, former IBF minimum weight champion Ratanapol Sor Vorapin (39-6-1, 30 KOs), fighting for the first time in five years, defeated Indonesian Alexander Boki by unanimous decision in a six round bout. Ratanapol, who is the older brother of WBO bantamweight champion Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, overcame a knockdown to rally back, knocking his opponent Boki down in the fifth en route to the decision victory.
This event was promoted by Kokiet Panichyanon of Kokiet Group Promotion.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV