Thailand’s Pongsaklek Wongjongkam defends his WBC Flyweight title for the fourteenth time on Monday, May 1st (Bangkok time), against Daigo Nakahiro of Japan in his quest to tie Miguel Canto’s record for the most number of title defenses in the flyweight division. Nakahiro is relatively unknown outside of Japan and dropped a split decision in his last bout to two-time Wonjongkam victim Daisuke Naito.
In theory, Wonjongkam looks headed for greatness. A further inspection of his record shows what many in boxing have known for quite sometime; his record is thick with padding. The Thai’s biggest wins have come over Australia’s Hussy Hussein, who was 23-0 at the time, and Alex Baba of Africa. Baba was 18-1 with 14 KO’s when the two met and was considered a potential world champion. In 2005 Baba managed a draw with former champion Danny Romero but has only won four of his last thirteen bouts since the loss to Wonjongkam.
Daisuke Naito and Trash Nakamura also added to Wonjongkam’s resume and while both are solid fighters neither has been in the mandatory slot. On the subject of mandatory defenses, Wonjongkam has not faced a mandatory challenger since November 2003 when he won the decision over Hussein.
As Wonjongkam and his team strive to reach their goal of fourteen successful defenses, it’s apparent he’s content do it against almost anyone, even a fighter who lost his last fight and magically popped in at the number fifteen spot on the WBC charts.
Let me explain the WBC’s rabbit-in-the-hat trick:
In August of 2005, Daigo Nakahiro was ranked 30th. He fought 6-4-5 fighter Hiroyasu Hasebe the same month. He moved up to 24th with the win and in January moved up one more spot – he was inactive. In February Nakahiro rose a full seven positions to 17th. After losing to Daisuke Naito in February he moved up in the March rankings, this time to his current resting place, 15th. So after fighting one club fighter and losing to Daisuke Naito, Nakahiro moved up fifteen positions. Abracadabra…
This trick may or may not be irrelevant to the May 1st bout, but WBC President Jose Sulaiman offered this “uh ummm” explanation.
”We have allowed the fight with Nakahiro for May 1st as an emergency for such a date.”
What emergency? The only emergency I can think of is getting the WBC’s version of the flyweight division unified.
“I just feel that what the WBC does is try to full cooperate with boxing in Thailand. Also, I do have great respect for the champion, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who I believe to be the best of his division.”
Fortunately, Mr. Sulaiman has made assurances the WBC flyweight title will be unified in rapid fashion: “Jorge Arce and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam have been put on notice. After Wonjongkam’s May 1st title defense, they must start negotiations for the WBC undisputed flyweight title.”
When I see it, I’ll believe it.
That is of course, unless Arce moves up to the super flyweight division.
Sulaiman, though, offers further assurances: “Should Jorge Arce elect to move up to the super flyweight division, he will be ranked number two, as he deserves no less by his interim flyweight championship. If Arce does elect to move up, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam will then be ordered to make his next defense of the title against Monelisi Myekeni of South Africa.”
Myekeni is the WBC international champion and has fought no one other than C-level fighters. Lorenzo Parra, Vic Darchinyan, Omar Narvaez, Irene Pacheco, Damaen Kelly, Rosendo Alvarez and of course Jorge Arce comprise the best of the flyweight division but neither Myekeni or Wonjongkam have faced any of them.
Once again Sulaiman explains, “I do agree that some of Wonjongkam’s challengers have not been up to class but I have been made to believe that his promoter has been unable to get better rivals due to the fact they are not willing to go to Thailand for the money that is offered due to the critical financial situations in the sport.”
Granted, Wonjongkam is the champion and should be able to choose where he fights, however normal procedures dictate when a champion is unwilling to face his mandatory challenge for whatever reason he is either stripped of his title or the fight goes to a purse bid. While the fight with Arce almost came off, this was almost a year ago and Arce has now held the interim title for as long.
So why then is a champion who has reigned for five years allowed to continually fight what basically amounts to a roster full of club fighters?
“We at the WBC have allowed the occasional exceptions, for which I take full responsibility, but always done in the best of good faith,” said Sulaiman.
“I prefer to accept the fact that we have been weak with Pongsaklek and take full responsibility for it, rather than explain the unexplainable.”
* * *
04-28-06 – Hinkong, Suraburi, Thailand
Chatchai Sasakul KO2 Dodong Discado
Chatchai Sasakul made quick of Filipino fighter Dodong Discado, knocking him cold at 1:51 of the second round. Sasakul, the former WBC flyweight champion, had little trouble with the seriously outclassed Discado. “The fight was easier than I thought it would be,” said Sasakul, whose last two bouts have been against unknowns and give little merit to his run at a title. In November of 1997 Sasakul defeated the undefeated Yuri Arbachakov in Japan, winning a unanimous decision and the WBC version of the flyweight championship. He lost the title a year later when he was knocked out in the eighth round by rising Filipino star Manny Pacquiao. Sasakul hopes to land a title shot against WBC Super flyweight boss Masamori Tokuyama – I wouldn’t hold my breath.
On the undercard, WBC Youth champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai pounded out a unanimous decision over a game Rollen Del Castillo of the Philippines. Del Castillo provided the crowd with a surprising treat – he was one of the few Filipino’s brought to Thailand as an opponent who could actually fight. With the victory Sithsamerchai moves to 21-0 with 8 KO’s. Del Castillo drops to 12-4, 5 KO's.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?