2006 was Pongsaklek Wongjongkam’s year. He racked up four title defenses, broke the record for consecutive title defenses by a flyweight and successfully made his sixteenth straight defense in November.
Former champion Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai stayed busy against decent opponents while Sirimongkol Singwancha fought just twice, both times against fighters who had little chance of winning.
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym came up short against Vladimir Sidorenko in his bantamweight title fight and Veeraphol Sahaprom was starched in nine by Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa in their rematch.
Wandee Singwancha won the WBC’s light-flyweight interim title and then promptly lost it on the scales in his next fight. Somsak Sithchatchawal made it to the top of the mountain when he defeated Mahyar Monshipour, only to be sent crashing down three rounds later by Celestino Caballero.
Grizzled veteran Ratanachai Sor Vorapin came back from his November 2005 loss to Jhonny Gonzalez to win all four of his fights in 2006. Another female prisoner failed in her bid to win a world title and in doing so had her life story chronicled in a movie, Fight for Freedom. She’ll get another crack at a title early next year.
Here are the 2006 Sweet Science Awards for Thailand:
Thai Fighter of the Year: Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (63-2, 31 KO’s) hasn’t lost in ten years and is Thailand’s lone world champion. No active Thai fighter comes close to besting Wonjongkam’s accomplishments and thus, he is my pick for Thailand’s fighter of the year.
Wonjongkam defeated South African fighter Monelisi Myekeni in November to make his sixteenth successful title defense in a row and plans to make four more before retiring. He needs a marquee fight or two in order to be considered among the division’s all-time greats and may get his chance late in 2007 if a rumored bout with Vic Darchinyan comes to fruition.
Thai Promoter of the Year: Virat Vajiratanawongse – how can you not give him the award? He’s guided the career of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and has another flyweight, Panomroonglek Kratingdaenggym, waiting in the wings to take over the flyweight championship once Wonjongkam calls it quits.
Fight of the Year: Somsak Sithchatchawal vs. Mahyar Monshipour – Although the bout wasn’t high-profile, it was high energy and high drama. It’s my runaway choice for fight of the year.
Gutsiest Performance: Somsak Sithchatchawal – involved in what is arguably the fight of the year with Mahyar Monshipour. Although hurt several times throughout the bout, he stayed upright long enough to finish Monshipour in the tenth round. What a fight!
Mismatch of the Year: Sirimongkol Singwancha (54-2, 32 KOs) vs. Lito Gonzaga (24-24-1, 8 KOs).
Singwancha is a former WBC Bantamweight and Super Featherweight belt holder. Gonzaga had dropped thirteen of his last fourteen fights and had only fought once in eight years. He did not belong in the ring with Singwancha, period. The Games and Amusement Board had not issued a letter of clearance for Gonzaga allowing him to engage in the bout and yet the Thai promoter and matchmaker made the fight.
Gonzaga was disposed of in three rounds. When asked about the bout, one WBC official stated, “It was really just a sparring session. It wasn’t even like Singwancha went at it with him.”
It was, however, an official bout and not an exhibition. Need I say more?
Fortunately and to his credit, Singwancha didn’t totally obliterate the Filipino but it’s unlikely this bout would have ever made it past a boxing commission in the US or UK or the Philippines.
Upset of the Year: – Lito Sisnorio (5-3-1, 2 KOs) TKO5 Fahpetchnoi Sor Chitpattana (13-1, 9 KOs)
Ranked fifth by the WBC at the time, undefeated flyweight and WBC Youth title holder Fahpetchnoi Sor Chitpattana of Thailand met unranked Filipino Lito Sisnoria in what was expected to be an easy win for the Thai. Sisnorio came with guns blazing in round one and promptly dropped Sor Chitpattana. He put him down again in round two and for the third and final time in round five. The fifth ranked flyweight in the world (the WBC’s that is) had just been destroyed by a fighter not even ranked in the top fifty.
Sor Chitpattana dropped to the WBC’s number eleven spot while Sisnoria moved to number twenty-one. The Thai has yet to fight since losing the contest and is currently ranked eighth by the WBC.
Most Overrated: – Panomroonglek Kratingdaenggym (15-0, 8 KO’s) and Prawet Singwancha (30-2-1, 18 KOs).
Panomroonglek Kratingdaenggym is somehow rated first by the WBC. Out of his fifteen wins, he’s beaten three fighters with winning records. Three, count ‘em. He’s beaten no one ranked in the top twenty but is somehow worthy of the WBC’s number one spot. What would justify him being ranked first?
Prawet Singwancha, rated number one in the lightweight division by the WBA, has somehow managed into wangling a shot at Juan Diaz’s title in February. He is unranked by The Ring magazine and Fight News and is ranked 98th by BoxRec. He holds victories over Dennis Laurente and Nonoy Gonzalez, which means very little unless you’re on the WBA’s rating committee. If you consider winning the PABA title deserving, then you can somehow justify is number one ranking.
Where Is He Now Award: Ratanachai Sor Vorapin – He’s still fighting and has won his last four fights, all by KO, but is a ring worn thirty years old. His clock is ticking and with seventy-five fights already on his ledger, 2007 is a make or break year.
Steep Decline Award: Yoddamrong Sityodtong – Sityodtong has dropped his last three in a row, one to light-hitting Thai prospect Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo. He was scheduled to fight for a WBF title in England, however the show never materialized. His better days are far behind him and unless he wants to fight Filipino stiffs in Thailand for the rest of his career, it might be time to hang ‘em up.
Asian Fighter of the Year: Manny Pacquiao – He’s not Thai but I had to throw him in for good measure. Pacquiao may very well deserve the top pound-for-pound spot and is undoubtedly the top fighter in Asia. He’s got a host of sensational bouts ahead of him – Barerra, Marquez, Valero – and he looks to provide fans at least a few more years before calling it quits.
Adjective of the Year: Mike Marley – I know, he’s not Thai or even Asian, but he did somehow manage to use the word ‘dyspeptic’ in a sentence so I felt it necessary to give him an award. The word is D-Y-S-P-E-P-T-I-C, not septic.
Using it to describe ESPN boxing scribe Dan Rafael may have been inappropriate, but nonetheless, he did manage to use the word in a sentence.
Would you pay to see Manny Pacquiao vs Saul Alvarez?