Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo meet June 3rd for the WBC lightweight championship of the world – assuming Castillo can make weight. Castillo came in over the contracted weight in his last bout against Corrales and is scheduled to fight Miguel Cotto November 11th for the Jr. Welterweight title so the June 3rd bout ostensibly will be his last as a lightweight. Corrales, however, may stick around for awhile.

On May 20th in Los Angeles, California, the WBC #2 lightweight, Sirimongkol Singwancha faces an unknown quantity in WBC #3 lightweight, Chikashi Inada. The bout is for the interim championship and supposedly is to determine who will face the winner of the Castillo-Corrales bout. This is in principle of course, depending on if Castillo makes weight, who wins, who stays at lightweight or moves up and what the WBC decides after both fights have taken place.

In August of 2003, Sirimongkol made the first defense of his WBC Super Featherweight title against Jesus Chavez and was thoroughly outclassed, sending him back home to Bangkok to work his way back into title contention. The Sweet Science visited Sirimongkol at his father’s Singmanasak gym where he was in the midst of his afternoon workout. In the intense 100 degree plus heat, Sirimongkol jumped rope, sparred six, hard rounds, hit the heavy bag and worked the focus mitts at an absolutely blistering pace; round after round he visibly pushed toward exhaustion. It is clear he knows this may be his last run at the title; by all accounts he is in the best condition mentally and physically since his loss in 2003 to Jesus Chavez.

His fight against Inada takes place at the Staples Center, on the same card as Marco Antonio Barrerra-Rocky Juarez, Jorge Rodrigo Barrios-Janos Nagy and Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista-Roberto Bonilla.

TSS: How did you get started in boxing and old were you?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I was four or five when I first started learning to box. My father has owned a boxing gym for as long as I’ve been alive so I’ve been around boxing and Muay Thai all my life.

TSS: What was your amateur background?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: When I was a student I boxed and competed in school. Then I boxed on the Army team of Thailand. I was on the B-team (second team). I was very unhappy about not being good enough for the A-team and ran away from my Army life. I could have been in a lot of trouble but was fortunate to have a few people to help me get my life back on track.

TSS: Did you fight in Muay Thai before beginning to box?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: Yes, at our gym we train in boxing and Muay Thai so it was natural for me to train in Muay Thai.

TSS: What was your record and did you win any titles?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I was the champion of Rangsit Stadium at 105 lbs. when I was 14 years old. My record was 52-13.

TSS:Did you idolize any fighters growing up?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I really liked Marvin Hagler, especially after seeing him beat Tommy Hearns.

TSS: What about Thai fighters? Who do you think is the greatest Thai fighter of all-time?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: Samart Payakarun. He’s skilled in Muay Thai fighter and boxing. He’s been very generous to me and provided me with advice when I need it. He’s just a generous person.

TSS: Who is your favorite fighter?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: Oscar De La Hoya. I liked De La Hoya’s style before he moved up in weight, when he was younger. I also admire his speaking ability when speaking to the press and in big fight situations.

TSS: On May 20th you’re fighting Chikashi Inada, #3 in the WBC. What do you know about him and have you seen any footage of his fights?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I met him in Texas when I fought Chavez. I didn’t see him fight though and haven’t seen any of his fights on video either.

TSS: What will your strategy be in the fight?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: No real strategy. Whatever he does, I’ll try to figure out the solution. My conditioning will be excellent and I’ll be able to handle anything he brings at me.

TSS: When do you arrive in the U.S. and where will you be training?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I’m arriving on 16th or 17th and will only be running and shadowboxing for the last few days so I won’t be going to a gym to train.

TSS: In August 2003 you lost a unanimous decision to Jesus Chavez. Was this your toughest fight and what happened?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: Definitely the toughest both physically and mentally. A lot went wrong in that fight and I wasn’t all there mentally. I was very tense and my manager wanted me to use a different approach to fight Chavez which I wasn’t comfortable with. By the time of the fight, I was over trained, stressed and I didn’t fight my fight. By the time of the fight I had nothing left.

TSS: Where do you see yourself in the lightweight division? Do you think you’re the best in the division or do you think you have the potential to be the best?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: No, at this time, I don’t see myself as the best in the division. There are many good fighters in the lightweight division but Castillo or Corrales are the best (if Castillo can still make 135 lbs). If I’m focused and in shape, I can certainly give either of them a great fight.

TSS: Are there any fighters you’d like to fight other than Castillo or Corrales? Juan Diaz, Acelino Frietas, maybe a rematch against Chavez?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: Sure, I’d like a rematch against Chavez, a fight with Pacquiao or Barrera would be great though but I’ll fight anyone put in front of me.

TSS: Who do you think will win the Castillo-Corrales fight?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: Castillo will win – he’s the stronger of the two and I don’t think Corrales can beat him at this point.

TSS: Have you seen either of them fight? Have you seen their first two fights and what do you think about them as fighters?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I’ve never seen either of them fight. All I know is they are very skilled fighters.

TSS: What will you do once you’re finished boxing?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I’d like to teach Muay Thai and boxing – maybe in Japan or the US.

TSS: Do you think you’re one of the all-time great boxers in Thailand?

Sirimongkol Singwancha: I try to focus only on my next fight and don’t really think about it.

TSS: Good luck in your fight against Inada and in the future.

Sirimongkol Singwancha: Thank you.

Sirimongkol Singwancha

Born: March 2, 1977
Alias Sirimongkol Singmanasak
Birth Name Manop Iamtuom
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 5’8
Weight: 135
Reach: 72”
Pro Debut: May 18, 2004, WUD6 Ritichai Kiatprapas
Record: 53-2, 31 KOs
Manager: Naris Singwancha
Titles: WBU Super Flyweight 1995, WBU Bantamweight 1995-1996, WBC Bantamweight 1996-1997, WBC Super Featherweight 2002-2003