Siam Paragon Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Referee: Bill Clancy (USA)
Television: Channel 7 Thailand
Promoter: Petchyindee Boxing Promotion
Flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam did what he was supposed to once again – win. A single left hand to the right eye of challenger Everardo Morales from the champion was all it took to secure his fifteenth straight, successful, WBC flyweight title defense. Wonjongkam, 112, Nakorn Ratchisima, Thailand, had little trouble figuring out Morales, 111.8, Mexico City, Mexico, and as expected made quick work of the journeyman, looking sharp in scoring a fourth round TKO.
With the five thousand Thais in attendance frenetically cheering him on, Wonjongkam bolted out of the starting gate in round one, aggressively moving forward and scoring repeatedly with his right hook and straight left to the body. Morales tried using the jab to work his way inside but the tight defense Wonjongkam has displayed throughout his career prevented the Mexican fighter from making headway.
The quick pace continued in round two. Wonjongkam was clearly the more active of the two fighters, peppering Morales with three, four and five punch combinations and thwarting any attacks mounted by Morales. To his credit, Morales, although unable to land any punches of substance, didn’t stop trying. Just under a minute into the round, Morales let go a combination, only to be countered and knocked down by a sharp left from the champion. Morales jumped up immediately, shaking his hands to demonstrate it was a push and not a knockdown, but referee Bill Clancy counted to eight and the fight continued.
Both fighters exchanged freely in round three, but it was Wonjongkam who landed the harder blows. At the close of the round, Wonjongkam, moving to his right, connected with a strong left to the temple of Morales, stunning him momentarily and knocking him back a step. Seizing the opportunity, Wonjongkam launched a left-right combination that missed but then landed a crunching left, dropping Morales to all fours. Morales once again rose immediately; this time, however, bloodied from a cut over his right eye. The bell sounded to end the stanza and the doctor was quickly called to the corner to examine the cut.
After a lengthy conversation, the go-ahead was given and round four began. Wonjongkam, sensing the end was near, pounced on Morales, ripping into him with nonstop combinations. Morales managed to push Wonjongkam to the ropes but with blood streaming down his face and the two fighters still exchanging punches, the referee stepped in and called a temporary halt to the action. The doctor was again called up to check the cut of Morales; this time the cut was deemed too serious for Morales to continue and Wonjongkam was once again declared the victor.
The win doesn’t do much for his credibility though. While his skills have never been in question, he’s yet to face a fighter who will truly test those skills.
As Greg Haugen said before his bout with Julio Caesar Chavez, “Half of Chavez’s wins came against Tijuana taxi drivers that my mom could whip.”
The Asian equivalent might go something like, “Half of Wonjongkam’s wins came against Filipino trike drivers or Tijiuana taxi drivers that my mom could whip.”
Granted, Haugen got his rear end handed to him in front of 132,247 Mexicans, but he definitely had a point.
So the question remains: Is Wonjongkam that good or is he simply looking good against opposition that any decent fighter would look good against? When is a win just not enough and why won’t he fight fighters rated in the top five of the division?
It’s been ten long years since Pongsaklek Wonjongkam has tasted defeat. He’s racked up forty-seven straight wins without a loss. That’s nothing to sneeze at. His ledger reflects only two losses in sixty-four professional battles, both coming to Filipino journeyman Jerry Pahayahay at the start of his career. Statistically at least, the pug-nosed champion would certainly seem headed towards the Hall of Fame. But in the past year Wonjongkam has come under fire for failing to take on name fighters and prolonging his reign against relatively mediocre and unknown opposition.
He had his chance against Jorge Arce to fight one of the best in the division and for whatever reason, the bout fell through and will probably never come to pass. Arce’s moved up in weight and it now seems crystal clear the two aren’t desperate to get in the ring together.
Hussein Hussein, Daisuke Naito, Trash Nakanuma, Malcolm Tunacao, Hidenobu Honda and Alex Baba are arguably the best fighters on Wonjongkam’s ledger, but other than Hussein and maybe Naito, none of the others would have ever been considered the best the flyweight division had to offer. Of the Ring’s top-ten rated flyweights, Wonjongkam has only faced one; Daisuke Naito, a Japanese fighter he’s defeated twice.
Whether Wonjongkam is completely sheltered from outside criticism or is simply indifferent, the fact remains – if he wants to be remembered as one of the flyweight divisions all-time greatest, he needs a big fight with a name fighter. Wonjongkam is now slated to face Monelisi Myekeni of South Africa later this year and while he may provide a stiff test for the Thai, he’s not at the level of Jorge Arce, Lorenzo Parra or Vic Darchinyan.
News and Notes
WBC #1 light flyweight Juanito Rubillar (39-9-7, 17 KOs) and WBC #2 Wandee SIngwancha (48-7-1, 10 KOs) meet July 18th in Bangkok, Thailand to determine who’s next in line for current champion Brian Viloria (19-0, 12 KOs). Rubillar, the WBC mandatory, had been scheduled to meet Viloria but the bout was scrubbed when the champion injured his right hand in a bout against Jose Antonio Aguirre. The matchup between Rubillar and Singwancha comes as a welcome relief to the usual mismatches put on between Thais and Filipinos in Thailand and with a title shot on the line, it’s sure to be a scorching encounter. Singwancha, 26, has lost twice to Vic Darchinyan by KO and dropped decisions to Jose Antonio Aguire and Hussein Hussein. Rubillar is a rugged veteran who’s gone the distance with Jorge Arce and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Both fighters have a lot to prove and will be hard-pressed to contend with Viloria’s power.
Viloria meets Omar Nino Romero (23-2-1, 10 KOs) August 10th in Las Vegas. The winner of Viloria and Romero will then meet the winner of Rubillar and Singwancha.