Unbeaten Thai fighter Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) extended his perfect record last Friday, when he beat South African fighter Simpiwe Konkco to retain the WBC Minimumweight title. The Thai dominated the South African and took a surprisingly easy win over the usually solid Konkco, who seemed happy to go through the motions and see out the 12 rounds, rather than to try and win.
Now with his 54th win in the bag it seems the perfect time for us to look at potential future challengers for the WBC champion, as we give Wanheng Menayothin the "Five for..." treatment.
Before we start this we are just going to immediately rule out the potential showdown with Knockout CP Freshmart, a bout that both fighters have shown no interest in making and seems a very unrealistic bout to make given the circumstances of the two men. Whilst it would be a very interesting bout, it's not one that is plausible, so we won't be considering it here.
1-Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) II
The most obvious choice for Wangheng next timeout, on what is likely to be his US debut, would be a showdown with IBF champion Pedro Taduran. This bout makes sense in so many ways. Not only would it be a unification bout between the Thai and Filipino but it would also give Taduran a chance to avenge a competitive 2018 loss to the Thai, a loss that saw Wanheng move to 51-0. Since the loss to the Thai we've seen Taduran score early wins over Jeffrey Galero and Samuel Salva, claiming the IBF title with the win over Salva. Aged just 23 a place on a big US card against Wanheng would be massive for Taduran's career, and a win on a US show against the Thai would be sensational for the Filipino youngster. If the two did fight Wanheng would be the favourite, but Taduran would be a very live under-dog, in a bout that could be very entertaining from a stylistic point of view.
2-Wilfredo Mendez (15-1, 5)
Fighting just a day after Wanheng defended his belt against Konkco, it's hard not to think that Wilfredo Mendez would be the perfect opponent for Wanheng's US debut. Mendez is the current WBO world champion, he's a Puerto Rican and although not a star he could draw on the US based Puerto Rican fans to back him on a notable US under-card. The 22 year old "Bimbito" would see this as a huge step up in class, given he only fought in his first world title bout in August 2019, but a chance to unify his WBO title with Wanheng's WBC belt in Las Vegas or New York would, perhaps, be too much to turn down. We don't see this being a great bout to watch, but it's certainly a significant match up if it gets made.
3-Vic Saludar (19-4, 10)
For a more fan friendly bout Wanheng could take on former Mendez foe Vic Saludar, the man Mendez beat for the WBO title in August. Mendez's style proved too quick and sharp for Saludar, but the Filipino puncher is a hard hitting monster, and managed to show what he could do with wins in Japan against Ryuya Yamanaka and Masataka Taniguchi, and it's of course impossible to forget his effort, in a loss, to Kosei Tanaka. This bout was spoken about earlier in the year, as a potential unification bout if Saludar got past Mendez, but there's no reason it can't still take place. With Wanheng moving around a lot less than Mendez he'll be there for a fight and Saludar will be looking for just that. This would be the sort of action fight that could grab a Western audience by the collar and get them to give the little men a go, and would be a great stand alone contest.
4-Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
At the age of 34 Norihito Tanaka isn't the most attractive opponent for Wanheng in terms of building the Thai's international fan base. What he is however is a criminally under-rated fighter who had been linked to Wanheng earlier this year and would make for a decent challenger, without being a great one. The current Japanese champion has won his last 3, including a stoppage over Shin Ono, and knows that time is ticking down on his career. If he could land one big bout, such as one with Wanheng, it would be the perfect send off for the Japanese veteran. For Wanheng a bout with Tanaka would be a bout against a fellow veteran, and someone who has the power and ring craftiness to be a test. Not the headline bout for Wanheng's US debut, but a bout we'd like to see all the same.
5-Mark Anthony Barriga (9-1, 1)
Having been out of the ring for almost a year as we write this it's unclear what the future holds for "Da Baby Boy" but Mark Anthony Barriga is one of the most naturally skilled men in the lower weights, and his skills going up against Wanheng's would be a really interesting test for both men. For Wanheng the bout would see him up against someone who has a legitimate chance of out boxing him, forcing him to be more aggressive and try to rough up Barriga. For Barriga the test will be how well he can cope in the harsh conditions of Thailand against a defensively smart pressure fighter. This wouldn't be one for the ages, but would be a really compelling bout and a stylistically intriguing one. Sadly Barriga's not fought since losing in an IBF title fight against Carlos Licona, but after a warm up or two he'll likely leap at a shot to face Wanheng.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).