Whilst there have been some great fights in the division this year it's been a terrible year for Asian fighters. We've seen Merlito Sabillo lose the WBO title, to Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Takayama lose the IBF title, also to Rodriguez Jr, and Xiong Zhao Zhong lose the WBC title to Osvaldo Novoa. To say it's been a nightmare division for Asian fighters this year is to merely state the obvious.
The next man looking to stop the rot is unbeaten Thai novice Knockout CP Freshmart (8-0, 5) who will be attempting to claim the WBA interim Minimumweight title when he takes on the very highly regarded Carlos Buitrago (27-0-1-1, 16) of Nicaragua.
For those who recognise Buitrago's name the odds are you know of, or even saw, his fantastic fight with Filipino fighter Merlito Sabillo, who was then the WBO Minimumweight champion. That performance, in the eyes of many, announced Buitrago on to the world scene and it was clear that he was a highly skilled offensively minded fighter with real potential to a lower-weight star. We'd certainly not suggest he's the next Roman Gonzalez but he does look like one of the most sure fire future world champions in the sport.
The Nicaraguan has lovely, smooth combinations, an aggressive mentality and with 29 professional fights under his belt he is experienced. Not only has he fought Sabillo, in the Philippines, but he has also fought in the USA and Mexico and scored wins over notable foes like Jorle Estrada, Gabriel Mendoza, Yader Escobar and Julian Yedras
As for the Thai he's best known for his name, which we admit is one of the best in the sport. Sadly for Knockout his name is probably more notable than his talent and although unbeaten he hasn't yet scored any really notable wins, at least not as a boxer. In fact in his 8 fights the most notable opponents he has faced have been Filipino's such as Cris Alfante, a 10 round decision, and Jonathan Refugio, a 5th round stoppage, and in neither of those bouts did he look ready to fight a world title fight. He looked promising but not promising enough to be rushed into a world title fight, even an interim one.
What we think has happened is that Knockout's team have too much belief in their man and are trying to show that belief by gambling his unbeaten record against a fellow young and promising fighter. Sometimes that sort of gamble works and a fighter announces themselves on he world stage. Sometimes that gamble back fires and the fighter gets knocked down the pecking order. We suspect that Knockout is going to be biting off more than he can chew here and although he'll put up a great effort, and he'll have home advantage, we suspect he'll come up short against one of the best young fighters in the division.
Although it's a huge ask for Knockout we do know that he will have a lot of support with the bout taking place in the new Buriram Raceway which should hold a lot of passionate Thai's all cheering on their man. Whether that will be enough to get their man the win or not is a big question though hopefully they'll manage to do their best to energise the Thai who will need all the help he can get.
(Image courtesy of our friends at the excellent Thairec.com)