Pair of World Title Fights to Showcase Thailand’s Best Boxers
Thailand plays host to two world championship prizefights this March, one pitting a pair of top-ranked Thais against each another. The year is already shaping up as one full of opportunity for Thai fighters.
On March 2nd, super bantamweights Napapol Kittisakchokchai (40-2, 36 KOs) and Saenghiran Lookbanyai (20-0, 15 KOs) meet to determine who receives a shot at the world championship currently held by Israel Vasquez.
"Saenghiran and Napopol are ranked number one and two in the WBC and the matching of these two outstanding Thais in an interim title contest is a historic occasion," said WBC vice president Police General Kovit Bhakdibhumi.
Also in March, #1 ranked Thai minimumweight Oleydong Sithsamerchai faces #2 ranked Omar Soto of Puerto Rico.
Both bouts are WBC interim title fights. Interim championships normally take place when a champion is injured or in a legal predicament, however the WBC has judged the bouts worthy of championship status “in appreciation of the King’s 80th birthday later this year” confirmed General Bhakdibhumi.
Should Sithsamerchai be victorious, he would then challenge current champion Eagle Kyowa (17-1, 6 KOs) for the world title. Kyowa, a Thai now fighting out of Japan, has defended his belt three times since winning it from Katsunari Takuyama in August of 2005.
Recently, at the annual Asian Boxing Council conference, General Bhakdibhumi declared six Thai fighters ready to challenge for world title fights; Napapol Kittisakchokchai, Saenghiran Lookbanyai, Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Devid Lookmahanak and Sirimongkol Singwancha.
The Kittisakchokchai – Lookbanyai matchup promises to be an explosive one; Lookbanyai has knocked out 75% of his foes while Kittisakchokchai has a KO percentage of 90%. Kittisakchokchai, 28, has the edge in experience and has fought at the world-class level on one occasion, losing to Oscar Larios in 2003 when he challenged for the WBC Super Bantamweight title. He’s gone on to rack up seventeen straight victories since the loss and briefly held the WBC International Title.
At 26, Lookbanyai has the chin to stand up to his opponent’s heavy fists and may be the fresher of the pair.
Both fighters have faced relatively soft opposition during their careers and their ledgers are thick with padding. Neither fighter is on The Ring magazine (US) or Boxing Monthly (UK) rankings and regardless of the winner, current titleholder Israel Vasquez stands to be the prohibitive favorite.
ABCO champion and WBC #6 ranked featherweight Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo passed his toughest test in September of last year, winning a hard-fought unanimous decision over former WBC super bantamweight champion Yoddamrong Sityodtong. The undefeated fighter from Chonburi has defended his ABCO belt a total of twelve times and hopes to get a chance at a title later in the year.
Super flyweight Devid Lookmahanak worked his way up to the #2 spot in the WBC’s rankings by winning his first fifteen fights in a row without suffering a loss. The 115-pounder was the Asian Boxing Council’s Fighter of the Year in 2006 but will be hard-pressed to defeat WBC champion Christian Mijares or #1 rated Mexican superstar Jorge Arce.
Former champion Sirimongkol Singwancha is presently ranked second by the World Boxing Council but is rumored to be unable to make the 135 lb. weight limit. To further compound matters, Singwancha recently signed a one million baht contract with the K-1 organization in Japan, making it doubtful he’ll challenge for a title anytime in the near future.
In May of last year, Singwancha traveled to Los Angeles to square off against Chikashi Inada for the WBC interim lightweight championship. The bout was scrapped when he tested positive for Hepatitis B. Late replacement Jose Armando Santa Cruz then went on to defeat Inada to win the title. Singwancha has been out of action since July, when he easily defeated Lito Gonzaga of the Philippines.
In April, female fighter Siriporn “Samson” Sor Siriporn (7-2, 2 KOs) gets a second chance at winning a world title when she faces Ayaka Miyano (3-2-1, 0 KOs) for the vacant WIBF light flyweight championship. Sor Sirporn, 23, is currently an inmate at the Women’s Correctional Institute for Drug Addicts in Pathumthani. In May of last year, she challenged unsuccessfully for the WBC’s version of the Minimumweight title when she lost a ten round decision to Nanako Kikuchi (7-1-1, 1 KO) of Japan.
Upcoming Fights in Asia
February 24, 2007 – Tenggarong, Borneo, Indonesia
Chris John vs. Jose Rojas
WBA Featherweight Championship
February 24, 2007 – Cebu City Sports Complex, Cebu, Philippines
Z Gorres vs. Fernando Montiel
WBO Super Flyweight Title
Alex John Banal vs. TBA
Rey Bautista vs. Feider Viloria
March 2nd, 2007 – Thailand
Napapol Kittisakchokchai vs. Saenghiran Lookbanyai
WBC Interim Super Bantamweight Title
March 15, 2007 – Singapore
Daudy Bahari vs. John Cotterill Jr.
PABA Light Welterweight Title
March 29th, 2007 – Thailand
Oleydong Sithsamerchai vs. Omar Soto
WBC Interim Minimumweight Title
April 3, 2007 – Klong Prem Prison, Pathumthani, Thailand
Siriporn Sor Siriporn vs. Ayaka Miyano
WIBF Light Flyweight Title
April 7, 2007 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Yukata Niida vs. Katsunari Takayama
WBA Minimumweight Title
April 28, 2007 – Macau, China
Manny Pacquiao vs. In Jin Chi
WBC International Super Featherweight Title
April 29, 2007 - World Memorial Hall, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Hozumi Hasegawa vs. TBA
WBC Bantamweight Title