Underneath the glitter and hype of Canelo vs. Golovkin, the prospect of Mayweather vs. McGregor, and the reality of Kovalev vs. Ward, something has been going on that has received minimal attention in the boxing world, but if it plays out, it could have disproportionate impact.
It involves a talented Thai fighter known as Chayaphon Moonsri aka Wanheng Menayothin. This relatively unknown minimumweight (sometimes referred to as strawweight) is the current WBC World Title holder and though he has been fighting since 2007, he is only 31 years old. He is ranked as the number one minimumweight by The Ring Magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Menayothin won the title in 2014 with a stoppage over Mexican Oswaldo Novoa and has successfully defended it eight times reflecting both high activity and division dominance.
An equal opportunity champion who uses fan-friendly pressure and a solid defense, he has beaten fellow Thais, South Koreans, Mexicans, Indonesians, Filipinos, Australians (by way of Tanzania), Chinese, and even two Japanese (a relative rarity for Thai fighters). However, the real news about Menayothin is that with his last win against Omari “Lion Boy” Kimwen on June 3, he has moved his record to 47-0. The scorecards read 117-110,118-109, and 118-109.
Menayothin is not only closing in on Floyd Mayweather’s record, he is on track to become the first undefeated fighter since Ricardo Lopez to register 50 wins without ever tasting defeat.
Russian giant Nikolay Valuev made it to 46-0 before losing to Ruslan Chagaev. Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez made it to 46-0 before he was beaten by Thai Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on a controversial decision. Argentinean Cesar Rene “El Distinto” Cuenca was on the verge of matching Mayweather’s record of 49-0 until he was stopped by Russian Eduard “The Eagle” Troyanovsky on November 4, 2015. The Eagle did it again on April 8, 2016 to retain his newly won IBO World super lightweight title and end Cuenca’s quest for fame. Like Chocolatito, Cuenca picked a super tough opponent to surpass Mayweather. Troubled Paul Spadafora was 48-0-1 before he lost to Johan Perez in 2013. Also in 2013, WBA Super World featherweight champion Chris John got to 48-0-3 before he was shockingly stopped by South African Simpiwe “V12’ Vetyeka.
Combining easy tune up fights with title defenses, Menayothin seems a cinch to avoid the fate of Gonzales and Cuenca and to forge ahead of both Lopez and Mayweather. In so doing, however, his level of opposition has been non-compelling to say the least. However, 47-0 is 47-0 and numbers don’t lie.
He plans to reign for as long as he can. With three bouts down in 2017, Menayothin has about two more to go if he stays with his recent rate of activity. A rematch with Pinoy Melvin Jerusalem (11-1) would be righteous, but a unification bout with the number two ranked Thammanoon Niyomtrong aka Knockout CP Freshmart (15-0) would be a major event in a division not known for major events. The thinking here is that Menayothin wins this one given his experience and ring smarts. And if he chooses to get to 49-0 by fighting “Knockout,” his level of respect would be enhanced greatly.
Argentinian Cesar Cuenca tried it the hard way going to Russia to fight an undefeated Russian opponent. Though he failed, he garnered enormous respect by avoiding easy tune-ups and doing it the right way. Will Menayothin take notice and do the same?
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Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records in the Grand Master class. He has won the EPF Nationals championship four years in a row. A member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he enjoys writing about boxing.