Yesterday in the blistering heat of Chainart, Thailand, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam crept one victory closer to Canto’s record of fourteen title defenses when he cruised to a unanimous decision victory over the Mexican fighter. For twelve rounds, a lethargic Wonjongkam used defense and movement to thwart the limited offense of Keb Bass and win nearly every round on all three of the judges’ scorecards.
Gilberto Keb Bass was the perfect opponent for WBC Flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam of Thailand. He’s tough, battle-tested, but didn’t have even ten fights, so the chance of him spoiling Wonjongkam’s run at Miguel Canto’s record for flyweight title defenses was minimal.
Thai promoter Virat Vajiratanawongse has proven time and time again he’s adept at choosing opponents who give Wonjongkam little to fear. To their credit (or lack of), the W.B.C. conveniently had Keb Bass rated tenth at light flyweight. The Mexican fighter had been ranked number fifteen but after defeating four fighters with a combined record of 5-14-1, somehow moved up to number ten. The shenanigans of El Presidente are never-ending.
Wonjongkam entered the ring to the chants of “Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame!” making reference to the belief of his promoter and camp that breaking Canto’s record will result in his being inducted into the W.B.C. Hall of Fame.
Round one started slowly, with both fighters cautiously probing for openings. There was little action until the end of the round when Wonjongkam unleashed several punches to the body of Keb Bass.
The Thai southpaw controlled the middle rounds, peppering the face of Keb Bass with his right jab, building his lead and keeping the Mexican fighter off-balance with the intermittent hooks and uppercuts.
Keb Bass found his second wind in round eight and made it a close round when he landed three disturbing left hooks to the kidney of Wonjongkam, his best punches of the fight. Wonjongkam slowed his pace considerably but a big right uppercut to the jaw of Keb Bass may have helped him steal the round.
But by round ten, Wonjongkam was breathing hard, content to make Keb Bass miss while showing very little offense; the sizzling heat had reduced the fight to short and sporadic flurries with long lulls in the action. Keb Bass continued to land his left hook to the body while Wonjongkam, although never in danger, looked weary and out of synch. His inactivity cost him the round and he clearly had the look of a fighter who couldn’t wait for the bout to finish.
With Wonjongkam content to lie on the ropes, the Mexican fighter put forth a feeble attempt at winning the last two rounds – it was much too little, much too late. Although Wonjongkam had won every round on two of the scorecards, he was far from dominating.
”He was a tough opponent, very strong” said Wonjongkam. “He was difficult to fight because he had a good body attack and I didn’t want to get butted while on the inside. I’m very happy to get the win.”
It was definitely not one of Wonjongkam’s better performances and gives credence to the notion the long-reigning champion is slipping. The subject of Pongsaklek’s opposition and his reluctance to face any fighter of quality has become the ugly mole on the face of Thailand’s boxing scene. Virtually all of Thailand’s boxing fans know about it and can see it, but no one dare speak about it in public. From taxi drivers to trainers and fellow Thai fighters, all are aware of the limited talents of Wonjongkam’s opposition, but go along with the charade.
Sportswriter Edward Thangarajah of the Bangkok Post stated he was told by W.B.C. supervisor Frank Quill “he’ll class the bout as one of the best and will give top marks when he makes his report to the WBC.” If Mr. Quill believes the bout is “one of the best,” perhaps a trip to the optometrist is in order. Mr. Quill also stated at the beginning of the bout “he did not think the fight would last four rounds and Keb Bass would be knocked out.”
A not-so-close inspection of the record of Keb Bass shows in his twelve previous losses he had only been knocked out twice, once by current light-flyweight champion Brian Viloria in eleven rounds. In thirty-eight fights he’d been knocked out twice and the W.B.C. supervisor doesn’t think he’ll last four rounds?
Maybe we could classify the sportswriter’s comments as the beginning of some sort of strange love fest, but Mr. Tangarajah is also the secretary of the Asian Boxing Council, one of the many branches of the W.B.C. Do the math.
Interim champion Jorge Arce, IBF champion Vic Darchinyan, WBA champion Lorenzo Parra and top-rated challenger Rosendo Alvarez all want to fight Wonjongkam and there are no shortages of worthy opponents; all of the before-mentioned are ranked in The Ring’s top ten and would be considered credible. And yet the facade continues.
Virtually all fight cards in Thailand are free and the announcers never let the spectators forget this. All through the fight fans are reminded of how “this show is free, 100% free!”
Boxing fans love free fights but there are plenty of fans willing to pay to see Wonjongkam fight Jorge Arce; instead, and for free, they get to watch the shell game – over and over again.
Wonjongkam is now scheduled to fight again sometime in May against an opponent yet to be confirmed. Keb Bass drops to 25-13-1 while Wonjongkam’s record moves to 60-2.
Judges scores: 120-108, 120-108, 119-110. The Sweet Science had it 119-110.
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On the undercard, WBC Youth Flyweight Champion Fahpetchnoi Sor Chitpatana (12-0, 9 KO’s) registered a sixth round TKO victory over Cheng Guang Dong (1-1, 1 KO) of China.
Promoter: Virat Vajiratanawongse