On July 15th, WBA interim bantamweight champion Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (24-0, 15 KOs) steps in the ring with WBA bantamweight champion Wladimir Sidorenko (18-0-1, 6 KOs) to determine who is the one and only bantamweight champion of the world – that is to say, the one and only champion of the World Boxing Association.

From a distance, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym looks like an adolescent boy, deceivingly so. When I first saw him, my first thought was “he’s just a kid.” That was from a distance though. When you’re face-to-face with him, the first thing you notice isn’t a youthful appearance, but two mangled clumps of flesh which somehow still function as his ears. He is seasoned, painfully so, and a closer look at his face won’t let you forget this. Fifteen years of torturous training in boxing and Muay Thai along with the hundreds of gym wars have weathered the twenty-five-year-old. Standing near him there is no doubt – he is a fighter through and through.

Diminutive but powerful, his trapezius muscles and short neck instantly illustrate his strength. He is a lean, young bull, ready to tear into anything or anyone that treads into his space. His smile is a contradicting, limited smile, breaking through ever so slightly through his serious mien – only occasionally.

Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym is his fighting name. Poonsawat, his nickname, loosely translates as “full to the brim with prosperity.” He seeks his greatness with purpose and is sure of himself; confident without being brash; he is believable in his undertaking.

His surname was taken to honor his sponsor, Kratingdaenggym (Red Bull Gym), the largest supporter of boxers in Thailand and greatly revered for their assistance to those involved in the sport. Like many Thai fighters, Poonsawat is forever identified by his fighting name. Only his family knows him by his given name – Prakorb Udomna.

In August of last year, Poonsawat passed his first, serious test when he defeated Ricardo Cordoba of Panama (then 25-0) by split decision in Thailand’s Rajdamnern Stadium, in the process winning the WBA’s “interim” bantamweight title (there’s that dirty word). Poonsawat, bloodied and badly cut, was forced to rally to victory in the last three rounds.

Four months later he won a unanimous decision over former, four-division champion, Leo Gamez of Venezuela. Well past his prime, Gamez still had a punchers chance and was dangerous; Poonsawat easily outboxed the ex-champion and showed his win against Cordoba was no fluke.

In March of this year, Cordoba held the Ukrainian-born, Germany-based Sidorenko to a draw in a bout many thought Cordoba won. Poonsawat and his camp got hold of a copy of the Cordoba-Sidorenko fight and after watching it made it clear he is eager to take it to Sidorenko,

“Cordoba didn’t fight as well against Sidorenko as he did against me,” said Poonsawat. “Cordoba should have won the fight. If Sidorenko fights me like he fought Cordoba, I will definitely beat him. And I believe since we’re fighting in his hometown, I will need to knock him out to win.”

He is in the beginning stages of his training for the fight and right where he wants to be with only ten pounds to lose in just over 6 weeks.

”Right now I weigh 128 lbs. so my weight is fine,” said Poonsawat. “I’m always training so have no problem making weight.”

If the fight were in Thailand, without a doubt I would make Poonsawat the favorite. Thais are notorious for losing on the road however and winning in Germany, of all places, won’t be easy.

The Thai is well aware of the difficulties he’ll face fighting Sidorenko on his home turf.

“I know fighting him in his home won’t be easy. This is why I want to knock him out – so there’s no chance of the fight being decided by the judges,” said Poonsawat.

“I have good sparring partners (WBC flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and PABA featherweight champion Saohin Srithai Condo) and will be ready for anything Sidorenko does.”

Should Poonsawat get past Sidorenko there are any number of fights that could be made; his main target is Rafael Marquez.

“There are many reasons I want to go to America. It’s the place where everyone wants to fight and it’s where the money is. I’d like to fight Rafael Marquez but first I need to defeat Sidorenko. He doesn’t worry me but fighting in his hometown does.”

Upcoming Fights in Asia

June 2, 2006 – Nakornsawan, Thailand
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin vs. Pedro Laurente

June 3, 2006 – Glorietta, Makiti, Philippines
Randy Suico vs. Pongpetch Chutwana
June 15, 2006 – Swissotel, Singapore
Daudy Bahari vs. Bart Abapo

June 23, 2006
Devid Lookmahanak vs. Yuki Murai
Thong Por Chokchai vs. Kosuke Iwashita

July 2, 2006 – Areneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines
Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar Larios
WBC International Super Featherweight Title

Gerry Penalosa vs. Gerson Guerro
Jimrex Jaca vs. Adrian Valdez
Rey Bautistita vs. Alejandro Felix Montiel

July 12, 2006 – Bangkok, Thailand
Wandee Singwancha vs. Juanito Rubillar
WBC Interim Light Flyweight Title

July 15, 2006 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Hozumi Hasegawa vs. Genaro Garcia
WBC Bantamweight Title

July 15, 2006 – Color Line Arena, Hamburg, Altona,,Germany
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym vs. Wladimir Sidorenko
WBA Bantamweight Title