Commercials are now regularly shown on Thai TV to promote Pongsaklek Wonjongkam’s record-breaking boxing career. He is shown gleefully running the streets of Bangkok, ala Rocky, with a flock of youthful well-wishers following behind him. “Fifteen in-a-row!” he cheers.
If they only knew.
Word is he is shooting for twenty in-a-row before he retires.
Twenty in-a-row against who though?
If they only knew that his title-reign has become a complete farce with the help of Red Bull of Thailand, Diamond Promotions and of course, the ever present divine ruler of boxing in Thailand, the W.B.C.
If they only knew.
If they only knew boxing they would know Wonjongkam had forgone the path of many a great Thai fighter; Pone Kingpetch, Chartchai Chionoi, Samart Payakarun and a host of others who took the hard road to greatness instead of fighting a perpetual bum-of-the-month tour.
The WBC has blatantly and with disregard for boxing fans, allowed their flyweight champion, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to face every taxi, tuk-tuk and jeepney driver his promoter could find, rolling up defense after defense and turning a blind eye to the fact it’s been nearly three years since he’s fought a mandatory; the last being in November of 2003 against Hussein Hussein.
Sounds like a courtroom drama, doesn’t it? It could be. It should be.
If they only knew.
After making the fourteenth straight defense of his flyweight title against Daigo Nakahiro in May of this year, Wonjongkam was finally ordered to face the WBC mandatory challenger, Monelisi Myekeni of South Africa. As has been the norm though, Wonjongkam ended up fighting someone named Everardo Morales, a fighter who somehow climbed from number nineteen in the rankings to thirteenth despite losing two of his last three fights. His lone win was against Lauro Lopez, a fighter who had lost eight out of his last nine fights!
The Thai powers that be wanted Wonjongkam to face Myekeni on June 30th in conjunction with the King of Thailand’s sixtieth year anniversary on the throne.
Wonjongkam planned to present the King his belt after his record-setting fifteenth defense. Myekeni’s promoter, Branco Sports Productions (BSP), subsequently declined the fight. It was BSP’s intention to bring the fight to South Africa and the timeframe was not only insufficient to put together the fight but also for Myekeni to adequately prepare. The green light for Wonjongkam’s fight against Morales was then given by BSP on the condition the winner would then fight Myekeni within 90 days. Wonjongkam easily won his June 30th fight with Morales via TKO4 and the stage was again set for a fight with Myekeni.
An August 4th deadline was then set by the WBC with the understanding that if negotiations failed to bring about an agreement by the deadline, the fight would go to a purse bid. Branco Sports Production wants the fight in South Africa; Wonjongkam’s promoter, Diamond Promotions, not surprisingly wants it in Thailand. As the South African government would also like to see the fight take place in the country, don’t be surprised if Wonjongkam ends up fighting outside of Asia for the first time in his career.
Wonjongkam’s camp put forth an offer of $30,000 for Myekeni however this amount was turned down. Wonjongkam’s camp then asked the South African promoter to push back the August 4th purse bid for one week (until Friday, August 11th). The two parties were in the advanced stages of negotiations so BSP agreed.
Myekeni is a solid fighter and from all accounts has been steadily improving. He’s certainly got a good chance of winning and a much better chance than Isidro Balabat, Gilberto Keb Bass or Randy Mangubat.
Myekeni is rated 7th by the IBF, 6th by the WBO and first by the WBC; the guy can fight and has earned the right to fight for a title, unlike many of Wonjongkam’s opponents.
An impressive Wonjongkam victory, especially if in South Africa, may stave off some criticism, at least temporarily. The Thai has received scathing reviews from boxing fans outside of his country and justifiably so. He may indeed have the best skills in the division, but until he proves it he’s just another champion milking the title for all it’s worth.
August 18th, 2006 – Patumthani, Thailand
Thong Por Chokchai (10-4-1, 6 KOs) vs. Jaime Barcelona (22-28-1, 6 KOs)
Devid Lookmahanak (13-0, 8 KOs) vs. Marvin Tampus (13-4-2, 10 KOs)
Napapol Kiatsakchokchai (37-2, 33 KOs) vs. TBA
Veeraphol Sahaprom (52-3-2, 37 KOs) vs. Anthony Mathias (14-6-1, 5 KOs)
If Sahaprom can’t get past Mathias, it’s truly over for the once great champion. Mathias is a runner who couldn’t break an egg if you stuffed hammers in his gloves so there’s no reason why Sahaprom shouldn’t a) administer a beating Mathias won’t forget or b) put him out of his misery quickly. Mathias has lost his last four in a row; if Veeraphol loses, he definitely needs to hang it up.
Sahaprom should end up in the top-ten of the all-time great Thai fighters and has nothing left to prove. He was blown out by Hasegawa and his chances of regaining a title are slim, barring any miracles or freebie title shots. If Sahaprom is impressive it would be nice to see him end his career on a high note but as is the case with many fighters, they never know when it’s time to quit until it’s too late.
August 31st, 2006 – Bangkok, Thailand
Denkaosan Kaovichit (34-1-0, 15 KOs) vs. Nino Suelo (5-11-1, 3 KOs)
Prawet Singwancha (30-2-1, 18 KOs) vs. Kiatchai 13 Riantower (18-4, 11 KOs)
Siriporn Sor Siriporn (5-2, 2 KOs) vs. TBA
Nongmai Sor Siriporn (4-1, 2 KOs) vs. TBA
September 9th, 2006 – Bandung, Indonesia
Chris John (37-0-1, 20 KOs) vs. Renan Acosta (18-4, 5 KOs)
WBA Featherweight Championship
John takes on the light-hitting Acosta and gets a freebie. Is he willing to take on Marquez in the U.S.? Was it a hometown decision or does he have enough to pull it off once again? We may never know as John is in no hurry to fight outside of Indonesia.
September 18th, 2006 – Japan
Katsushige Kawashima (30-4, 20 KOs) vs. Christian Mijares (25-3-2, 9 KOs)
WBC Interim Super Flyweight Championship
October 25th, 2006 – Swisshotel Stamford, Singapore
Solomon Egberine (14-2, 9 KOs) vs. Daudy Bahari (29-1-1, 11 KOs)
October 28th – Palangkayara City, Borneo, Indonesia
Muhammad Rachman (51-7-4, 23 KOs) vs. Donnie Nietes (13-1-2, 9 KOs)
IBF Minimumweight Championship
Rachman turns down $55,000 to fight Ivan Calderon, takes $40,000 to fight Nietes. Rachman has stated he wants $100,000 to fight Calderon in Puerto Rico.
November 26th, 2006 – Seoul, Korea
Rudy Lopez (19-2-1, 13 KOs) vs. Injin Chi (30-3-1, 18 KOs)
WBC Featherweight Championship
Does Chi still have it?
I wouldn’t bet against him while fighting in South Korea. Chi via UD12.