One Friday we saw Thailand's unbeaten and talented Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4) struggle badly with a fight against the scales ahead of his OPBF Super Featherweight title defence against Japan's talented former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (21-4-3, 14). It was expected that the struggle could cost the Thai who needed 3 attempts to make weight and looked less than great when he finally did make weight. That however didn't prove to be the case earlier today as the Thai recorded his 4th title defence and took a huge step towards a world title fight, likely with WBC champion Takashi Miura.
The fight started slowly and the first couple of rounds were unexpectedly quiet with neither man really managing to do much to impose themselves. In round 3 things began to change and Jomthong began to get his jab going landing it cleanly whilst controlling the distance and timing of the bout. It was a turning point that lead to more success from the champion who clearly took round 4 as well. Jomthong's success in rounds 3 and 4 saw the cards all reading 38-38 when publicly announced after the 4th round.
Through the middle rounds we saw Jomthong continue to strengthen his position, and in round 5 he bust the nose of Kaneko who was beginning to show swelling around his face. The bloodied nose saw things begin to get worse for the challenge who appeared to lose rounds 6,7 and 8 as Jomthong looked to take control of the bout. Remarkably one judged managed to give 2 of the middle rounds to Kaneko though, thankfully, the other judges got it right and Jamonthong was in the lead on two of the card with cards with scores of 78-74 and 77-75 whilst the third judge had it 76-76.
The open scoring let Kaneko know that he needed to do more and that's what he appeared to do in round 9 as he stepped up the pace, despite taking some clean and hard shots himself. Sadly for Kaneko his charge was thwarted the following round as Jomthong landed numerous clean and hurtful looking left hands which left a further dent in the confidence of the challenger who was beginning to swell more noticeably around the eyes.
With Jomthong looking like he merely had to stay up right to retain his title Kaneko threw it all on the line in the final round and Jomthong responded in kind giving the fans a thrilling finale as the two traded shots, landed bombs and tried to force a stoppage. Despite both landing big shots neither could drop their iron chinned foe in the exciting finale.
When the final scores were announced their was little doubting the winner and thankfully the cards reflected the correct result with Jomthong winning via scores of 115-113 (x2) and 116-112. It was a well deserved win for the champion and one that could well give his boxing career a kick start after having had major success in Muay Thai. A world title bout certainly looms for Jomthong though we're unsure when he'll eventually get it. As for Kaneko this is a major setback though we suspect he'll come again and improve from this loss.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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