Three weeks ago, the relatively unknown Somsak Sithchatchawal of Thailand traveled to Paris, France to challenge the WBA super bantamweight champion Mahyar “Little Tyson” Monshipour for his title. Thai fighters have a notoriously poor track record fighting on the road and few gave the untested Thai much of a chance at dethroning the champion. Sithchatchawal battled back from the brink of defeat several times though and managed to score a TKO victory in round ten. Monshipour immediately announced his retirement.
The Sweet Science met with Sithchatchawal at the Work Point Studio in Rangsit, where he was filming an episode of the Thai TV game show, "Ching Roi, Ching Lan" ("Get one hundred, get one million"). The game features a celebrity guest (Sithchatchawal) performing various tasks while being timed. Sithchatchawal was asked to hit the focus mitts, jump rope, arm-wrestle and hit the heavy bag. His time – fifty seconds – about as long as I had to do this interview.
TV and movie stars are then asked to determine whether or not three Thai comedians performing the same tasks have what it takes to better the time of the guest. Choose correctly and move on; choose incorrectly and say your goodbyes. The hour and a half show is hugely popular in Thailand and the winner gets a shot at winning a million baht ($25,800).
TSS: How do you feel winning a world championship after eleven years as a professional?
Sithchatchawal: To be honest, it’s great to be champion but I feel the responsibility. I worry about my training. I know I need to train hard but now that I’m champion, everyone wants to talk to me and meet me. I know my training comes first so at some point I will need to concentrate only on training.
(Note: The Thai phrase “Took-a-laap” addresses Sithchatchawal’s new-found stardom. He receives everything most people strive for – money, fame, popularity – but doesn’t have the time to enjoy it. It is both a blessing and a curse.)
TSS: Before you fought in boxing, did you fight in Muay Thai?
Sithchatchawal: I fought twenty five times.
TSS: That’s not many by Thai standards. Why did you change over to regular boxing?
Sithchatchawal: There is a lot of competition in Muay Thai at my weight and I thought I would have more opportunities if I fought in boxing.
TSS: Before fighting Monshipour, you had never really fought any world-class fighters other than Ratanachai Sor Vorapin. How did you prepare for this fight and did you do anything different?
Sithchatchawal: I trained harder than I’ve ever trained. I also watched videos of Monshipour.
TSS: What were your thoughts when you knocked him down in the first round?
Sithchatchawal: I thought I knocked him down the first time. I knew he was dangerous and knew he wasn’t finished at that time.
TSS: So you thought the first time he went down, it was a knockdown?
Sithchatchawal: Yes. I thought I caught him with an uppercut.
TSS: You used the uppercut successfully throughout the fight. Was it your plan to use the left uppercut?
Sithchatchawal: No. Actually I’ve never used the uppercut much. He’s shorter than I am and I saw right away that his style would be susceptible to the uppercut. Also, I knew if I moved side to side a little, it would help.
TSS: Were you ever hurt? It looked like maybe in the third, eighth and ninth round he might have stunned you. In the third, I thought the referee might step in if you didn’t get off the ropes.
Sithchatchawal: He hurt me in the third, the fourth and maybe the ninth.
TSS: Was this fight your most difficult fight?
TSS: Did you ever have any doubt you would win, either before or during the fight?
Sithchatchawal: No, never. I don’t let myself think like this.
TSS: Was he the hardest puncher you’ve faced in your career?
Sithchatchawal: No. I fought an African fighter, Trevor Gouws, in a PABA title fight. He was the hardest puncher.
TSS: What do you think the difference was? Were you just in better condition than him? Physically, it was a close fight up to when the fight was stopped.
Sithchatchawal: I think some of it was luck and some of it was my conditioning. My stamina was very good in the fight – like I said, I trained very hard for the fight.
TSS: How has your life changed now that you’re champion?
Sithchatchawal: More people recognize me now. Now that I’m champion it’s not as simple as just training for the next fight.
TSS: What do you hope to accomplish now that you’ve won the title?
Sithchatchawal: I want to keep my title for a long time!
TSS: How much longer do you think you’ll fight?
Sithchatchawal: I believe I have five or six years left. I would like to fight until I’m 33 or 34.
TSS: Rumor has it Golden Boy offered you a fight with Daniel Ponce DeLeon? Is this true and will you fight him?
Sithchatchawal: Not now. I believe my next fight will be with Celestino Caballero.
TSS: Is there any one fighter you’d like to face?
Sithchatchawal: I don’t care who I fight. I’ll fight anyone and would like to unify the titles.
TSS: Thanks for your time and good luck in the future.
Sithchatchawal: Thank you.