One of the on-going saga's in world boxing has been the WBC Minimumweight title bout between Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] and Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥], who have been set to have a rematch this year, following their 2017 clash.
Originally the date for the bout was early March, then late March, then April and sadly it has just been getting pushed back and back. The last news was that it would be on May 31st, though there was still some worry that that date would also slip.
Today we finally saw confirmation of the May 31st date with an official announcement coming from Fukuhara and the Honda Fitness gym, his promoter.
The bout will take place in Chonburi Province, Thailand, giving Wanheng home advantage, as had been previously rumoured.
The cancellations were brought up at today's announcement, with Fukuhara's gym chairman explaining that it was hard to keep motivated during that period, but it does appear that there is a burning desire with Fukuhara to become a 2-time champion, and to avenge a previous loss to Wanheng. Fukuhara himself admitted his motivation waned but the wish to become a world champion for a second time is huge, and that he has been kept going by those at the Honda Fitness gym.
Strangely there was no reason given for the cancellations, though it's assumed that the change in how Channel 7 do their boxing broadcasts may have played a part, albeit indirectly, in the change of date.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It's fair to say that boxing has had some frustrating moments during the years and some bouts that have just been pushed back and cancelled, or were never scheduled to even take place.
Today we were informed that the WBC Minimumweight title bout between Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] and Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] has now been set for May 31st.
The bout was originally scheduled for March 1st, then pushed to late March, then was said to have been pencilled in for April 24th but today it's been officially pushed all the way back to the end of May. There's been no clear reason given, as to why this has been pushed back so far, though it is worth noting that the bout has got a TV slot, and the promoter also has the April time slot.
The Wanheng Vs Fukuhara bout is set to be aired on Channel 7HD, from 13:45 to 15:45. The April 24th slot is on Channel 28SD, and has been set aside for an OPBF Bantamweight silver title bout between Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-1, 33) [เพชร ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] and "Nicky Jordan", who we believe is is Indonesian Nicky Jordan Nainggolan (6-6, 3).
It really is a shame that Thai boxing appears to be really struggling this year with TV options, and whilst it's great that WP Boxing is back, and is available on DAZN, it does seem that CH7's recent change in policy is a major problem.
According to Thai sources the WBC Minimumweight title bout between unbeaten champion Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] and Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] has been rescheduled.
Originally the bout was set for March 1st though sources are now reporting it has been pushed back 4 weeks, and will instead take place on 29th. There isn't a clear reason given as to why it has been scheduled, but there more to this story.
First it appears that Wanheng will return in the ring before facing Fukuhara, battling against WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท]. The sources report that we will get the two world champions in the ring together, though unclear if it will be a joint public training session or a public spar, on February 22nd as both put touches towards their training for their next defenses.
For Wanheng that next defense will be the Fukuhara bout at the end of March. For Knockout things aren't totally clear, though it seems like he will be risking his title in April, rescheduled what was supposed to be a late March, though his opponent and the exact date of his bout are currently unknown.
It should be noted that the Wanheng Vs Knockout confrontation will take place on a card that will also see Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (10-0, 4) [สะท้านเมืองเล็ก ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท], aka Tanawat Nakoon, battle against Crison Omayao (24-18-4, 8) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Flyweight title. Both are expected to be shown on the Channel 7 broadcast from 13:45 to 15:45 local time.
Earlier today news broke from Thailand that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] would be making his next defense on March 1st.
Over the last few months the Thai had been linked to fights in on the road against Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼], in Japan in April, and Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心], this past December, also in Japan, but sadly it seems like his first bout on Japanese soil will now be pushed back.
Instead the news from Thailand today is that the unbeaten world champion will instead be fighting in Chonburi against former foe Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] who has won 2 bouts since losing a very competitive bout with Wanheng in November 2017.
For Wanheng the bout will be his 11th defense of the WBC world title, a title he won back in November 2014, when he stopped Oswaldo Novoa. Although his reign is the longest active one for any man in the sport he is best known for surpassing the 50-0 record of Floyd Mayweather Jr, something he did last year when he defeated Pedro Taduran in August, and moved to 51-0.
For Fukuhara the bout would be his second shot at Wanheng, and if we're being honest he was a lot more competitive than the score-cards suggested in their first bout, and would give him a second chance to become a 2-time world champion, having previously held the WBO title.
Earlier this week we saw WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] record his 10th defense and suddenly become a minor boxing star, as he surpassed the 50-0 recorcd of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Since then there has been a massive increase in boxing fans talking about the Thai, either criticising his record or applauding him for his long unbeaten reign. But that talk doesn't seem to stop any time soon, and his team are clearly not discussing retirement yet.
Prior to his recent bout with Pedro Taduran it was reported that he was looking to defend his WBC title later in the year in Japan. Now there is a few more details being revealed about that potential bout
Thai sources are now reporting that Wanheng isn't just looking to fight in Japan but is looking to do so on a Watanabe promoted New Year's Eve card, something that would be relatively huge given the audiences that attend and tune in to those end of year shows in the country.
Given the date and promotional contact the most obvious opponent would be Japanese Minimumweight champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心]. He's promoted by the Watanabe Gym, and they are looking to continue their run of shows on December 31st. It would fit perfect on a card that would also, potentially, feature Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人] facing off with WBA Light Flyweight super champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). They are also said to have been in touch with Wanheng's promoter prior to Wanheng's 51st career victory.
Interestingly there's also speculation that Ono's stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] will be fighting in a Flyweight world title bout on the same card, which appears to be slowly getting put together at the moment. The obvious option for Taguchi's Flyweight title bout would be against the winner of the upcoming WBO title fight between Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) [木村翔] and Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7) [田中恒成].
Another very serious possibility, if Ono is unable to have the bout this year due to a cut or other injury, is a rematch with Wanheng facing Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥], who had been spoken to about a title fight with a Thai earlier in the year and would make for a very fan friendly contest. Though he does seem more likely to be challenging WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart.
A third possibility would be OPBF champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) [小浦 翼], if Koura successfully defends his title later this month. So far Koura has mostly fought on the Boxingraise service so doesn't seem to have any television commitments and would make for a very exciting challenger for Wanheng.
We suspect that that Koura would be preferable to Fukuhara, given his own unbeaten record and style, but even he would be second choice behind Ono, who has shown himself to be just under-world class with decision losses to Katsunari Takayama and Knockout CP Freshmart, and is of course a Watanabe promoted fighter and would be by far the easiest to make a bout with.
(Image courtesy of Siamsport)
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