By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On October 6, in a historic event for combat sports, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4 / 41 KOs) defends his WBC Super Flyweight World Championship, against Iran Diaz (14-2 / 6 KOs), at ONE “Kingdom Of Heroes”, in Bangkok, Thailand.
Unlike most world champions, Srisaket didn’t have a long and successful amateur career. He had to move to Bangkok, when he was only 13 years old and worked as a trash collector at a department store in order to feed himself. Life was so difficult for him that he sometimes had to eat leftovers that he collected from the garbage, just to survive. He began boxing in 2009 and in just 2 years he won the WBC Asia title, which he defended 4 times.
In 2013, Sor Rungvisai (with a record of 18-3 at the time) challenged Yota Sato (26-2*) for the WBC Super Flyweight World Title. Sato, with victories over the likes of Kohei Kono, Suriyan Kaikanha and Ryo Akaho, was the clear favorite to win this fight. The Thai boxer shocked the world when he dominated the champion in every single round, leaving him almost no room for an offense of his own, continuously punishing him until the referee had to step in and stop the fight in the 8th. Srisaket was crowned the new world champion, at the age of 26. Sato had never been stopped prior to this match.
Srisaket made his first defense against Hirofumi Mukai (9-2*) in what was a one sided beatdown. He lost his belt to Carlos Cuadras (29-0*) in controversial fashion, after Cuadras suffered a cut over to his left eye from an accidental clash of heads and was awarded the technical decision. In just a few months after that loss, he reclaimed the WBC Asia title and mostly fought journeymen until he faced 2 time world title contender Jose Salgado (34-2*). Sor Rungvisai blasted the Mexican with a couple of strong left punches and one mean right cross in the 4th round to get the TKO win and the WBC Silver championship.
His biggest challenge came on March 18 of 2017, when he fought Roman Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden, for the belt he never truly lost. Chocolatito, 88-0 as an amateur and 46-0 as a pro, had never lost a single match in his entire career. As a 4 division world champion, with notable wins over Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada, Akira Yaegashi, Edgar Sosa, Brian Viloria and Carlos Cuadras, it was no secret that Srisaket was once again the underdog. Much like the Sato bout, the Thai phenom stunned everyone when he scored a knockdown, in the very first round, as he connected with a thunderous uppercut. During the 3rd, Roman was cut in his right eye, which caused massive bleeding as the fight progressed. Both men went back and forth, in an exciting affair that saw them delivering furious exchanges. Gonzalez put on a strong offense, mostly in the later rounds, but Srisaket was dominating the majority of the match. When the last round came, they left it all in the ring, bringing the fans at the Garden on their feet. After the dust had settled, Sor Rungvisai got the majority decision and reclaimed the WBC Super Flyweight World Title.
The rematch was set in September, at the initial Superfly show in California. The fight was a slugfest as champion and challenger went toe to toe, trading bombs with one another for 3 consecutive rounds. However this time, the ending came abruptly, when Srisaket knocked Gonzalez out with a massive right hook in the 4th. This bout, not only marked Chocolatito’s second ever defeat (both at the hands of the same opponent), but also his first (and thus far only) KO loss in 136 outings.
In 2018, Sor Rungvisai has defended his belt once against former 2 division world champion Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2*) and has also scored a TKO victory over WBC Asia and WBO Asia Pacific champion Young Gil Bae (28-6*). His next opponent, as well as his third title defense, will be against former WBC Latino champion Iran Diaz, who has broken out to the world scene (#6 by the WBC – August rankings) after defeating 2 former world champions in Hernan Marquez and Luis Concepcion. His only 2 losses are to Juan Hernandez Navarrete (former flyweight world champion) and Nordine Oubaali (accomplished amateur and number 1 contender to the WBC Bantamweight title).
From collecting trash to co-main eventing Madison Square Garden, the story of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is inspiring to say the least. After years of hard work, he returns to Bangkok, this time to defend his world championship at the Impact Arena, which is considered to be the 2nd largest exhibition and convention venue in all of Asia. Both men will look to prove a point. For Diaz, it’s a chance to finally realize his dream of winning the big one. For Srisaket, it’s to come back home and say “I finally made it”.
ONE Championship’s Kingdom Of Heroes will be a groundbreaking event as they aim to bring 3 of the most popular martial arts in the world (boxing, kickboxing & MMA) all in one stage. The rest of the fights are:
Shinya Aoki vs Ev Ting (ONE Lightweight title eliminator)
Leandro Issa vs Muin Gafurov
Hayato Suzuki vs Robin Catalan
Rika Ishige vs Bozhena Antoniyar
Rin Saroth vs Fu Chang Xin
Dodi Mardian vs Ramon Gonzales
Super Series (Kickboxing/Muay Thai):
Kai Ting Chuang vs Stamp Fairtex (ONE Atomweight World Championship)
Andy Souwer vs Anthony Njokuani
Masahide Kudo vs Singtongnoi Por Telakun
Nong-O Gaiyanghadao vs Mehdi Zatout
Alain Ngalani vs Andre Meunier
Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai vs Alaverdi Ramazanov
Petchdam Kaiyanghadao vs Kenny Tse
A few words for some of the key fights:
Shinya Aoki (41-8) is a former Shooto, DREAM & ONE world champion. A judo & jiu jitsu specialist, with 27 submissions on his MMA record, Aoki will take on Ev Ting (16-4) a dangerous striker and skilled grappler. The winner will receive a title shot against 2 division world champion Martin Nguyen (11-3) on March of 2019, at ONE’s debut in Japan.
Kai Ting Chuang (17-5) is a 3 time WAKO National Kickboxing Champion as well as the reigning and defending ONE Kickboxing Atomweight World Champion. She defends her title against Stamp Fairtex (60-15), former North Eastern muay thai champion.
"Update: Martin Nguyen has relinquished his Lightweight title due to an injury."
Andy Souwer (160-20) is one of the most decorated kickboxers on the planet. A 2 time K-1 World Max Champion, 4 time S-Cup World Champion, ISKA & WKA World Champion (and more), Andy will make his ONE debut against Anthony Njokuani (25-1) a Nigerian fighter who has also competed in MMA (UFC & WEC).
Masahide Kudo (17-7), the current RISE Featherweight champion, will face Singtongnoi Por Telakun (220-80) former Lumpinee Stadium Champion, WMC World Champion, S-1 Champion and Rajadamnern Fighter of the Year.
Nong-O Gaiyanghadao (256-54) is considered to be one of the best pound for pound muay thai fighters in the world. He is a 4 time Lumpinee Stadium champion, Rajadamnern Stadium Champion, 2 time Thailand national champion, and 2 time Fighter of the Year. His opponent is former WBC Muay Thai World Champion Mehdi Zatout (41-18).
Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai (156-33) is a 2 time Lumpinee Stadium Champion and WMC World Champion. He competes against Russian fighter Alaverdi Ramazanov (57-3).
If you are a fan of combat sports, this will be a night to remember.
*Fighter’s record prior to the fight mentioned.
The biggest bout this weekend is a potential instant classic as WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40) defends his title against mandatory challenger Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25). For the champion this will be his second defense of his second reign, and gives him a huge chance to solidify himself as a leading fighter in the lower weights. The challenger will be looking to become a 2-weight champion, and will be looking to further establish himself as one of the best current Mexican fighters in the sport. On a more fan based level this will be one of the best aggressive fighters in the sport against one of the truly elite boxers and should be a stylistic pleasure or power, brains and skill.
Last year Srisaket announced himself on to the Western fan base with two wins over Roman Gonalez. To some that was his only real achievement but to others, who had followed his career, those were just more big wins that saw him become a 2-time world champion. Prior to those wins he had amassed a long record in Asia and had scored notable wins over Yota Sato, to claim his first title, and Jose Salgado, to become mandatory for a second title fight. Other than those two wins his only other notable recent bout had been a technical decision loss to Carlos Cuadras, who had looked very worried about the power and aggression of Srisaket.
Unlike many Thai's with padded records Srisaket is a genuine world class fighter. He's teak tough, a huge puncher, a powerful physical specimen, with aggressive footwork, a high work rate and an awkward southpaw stance. For all his strengths he can be outboxed, he's not the quickest, the smoothest or defensively the smartest. He has been shown to eat shots, as he did at times against Gonzalez, though they typically bounce off him and he regularly dwarfs other Super Flyweights. In many ways he's like a smaller, cruder, more powerful Gennady Golovkin and if the Super Flyweight division had a higher profile a few years ago he truly would have been the divisional bogey man, rather than someone feasting on regional journeymen to stay busy.
Whilst Srisaket only really managed to make him name in the West recently the same can't be said of Estrada, who has looked on the verge of breaking out a few times, before something has slowed his ascent. In 2012 he went tooth and nail with Roman Gonzalez, in a true Fight of the Year contender for the WBA Light Flyweight title. That bout was aired on Wealth TV in the US and it seemed like the perfect platform for the lower weight fighters. Despite the loss Estrada's profile was boosted immeasurably and just a few months later he would defeat Brian Viloria in Macau to claim the WBO and WBA “super” titles at Flyweight. Another bout in Macau saw Estrada defeat Milan Melindo and it seemed like he was going to become a staple of the Bob Arum shows in the region. Sadly though he would fight his next 7 bouts in Mexico, spread over the following 3 years. They included wins over Giovani Segura and Hernan Marquez, who had looked shot for a while, along with some limited opposition as hand injuries slowed his rise and kept him out of action for over a year.
Thankfully for Estrada he scored a major win last year as he over-came Carlos Cuadras to earn a shot at the WBC Super Flyweight title. The win over Cuadras showed everything that Estrada is. He's a really intelligent boxer-puncher, he showed ring craft, timing, and understanding of distance that many fighters wish they could have. His jab was on point, his shot selection showed touches of genius and although he started somewhat slowly he came close to finishing off a tired Cuadras late on, dropping his fellow Mexican in round 10. The slow start of Estrada is something we've seen a number of times, as he figures out his opponents and then begins to go to work. It's a cerebral style that he combines with solid speed and power.
Give that Srisaket is a fast starter, looking to force his will from the opening bell and that Estrada is a slow starter, who begins to pick apart opponents as the fight goes on we are expecting a fight that,if it goes to the cards, is going to be very hard to score. We're know that Srisaket will start fast, and during the first 4 or 5 rounds he is going to be incredibly dangerous against his naturally smaller foe. If he can land his power shots during this time there is a chance he could force a stoppage, he could in fairness stop almost anyone in the lower weights if he lands cleanly. If Estrada sees out the early storm he will dominate the later rounds, making things really interesting on the score cards. It really could depend on whether or not Srisaket can get an early knockdown or not.
Another to consider here, and it works in Sriskaet's favour, is the potential for headclashes. A quick start by the Thai before a headclash renders an early finish could well see him take a technical decision, in part due to Estrada's willingness to start slowly. This may well figure into the game plan of both men, and see a slightly early start from Estrada.
We favour the Thai to come out on top, though we suspect he'll have to get through some very tough patches late on to come out with the win, after a very strong start.
Back in March fans in the west got their first real chance to see Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39), and he immediately made an impression dropping Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38) inside the opening round, en route to a unanimous decision win. The victory saw Srisaket becoming a 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion, though saw many dispute the decision, claiming it to have been scored wrong and that Srisaket had gotten away with dirty tactics, due to his use of the head. In the days that followed the bout the WBC ordered a rematch between the two men, and that rematch will take place this coming Saturday.
The win for Srisaket was a huge upset, with the Thai being priced at 13/1 just hours before the fight, and Gonzalez being 1/100 with some bookies. Despite being a former world champion Srisaket was, to many a total unknown. The bout however proved that he was a big, tough, powerful, strong and aggressive fighter who was always going to be a handful for anyone in the division. He was flawed, but a bit of a divisional man monster, and that showed as he seemed to dwarf Gonzalez, who was looking to make his first defense of the title.
For those who missed the first bout Srisaket really is a brutish fighter. He fights at a good pace, though did slow down in the later stages of the bout with Gonzalez, he starts fast, is one of the biggest punchers pound-for-pound and brings intense pressure every time he's in the ring. Despite having a bit of a padded record, as most Thai's do, he does hold notable wins over Yota Sato, Hirofumi Mukai and Jose Salgado, all of whom were stopped by Sriaket and he is a genuine talent.
The Thai's record is marked up, though it should be noted that he actually began his career 1-3-1, losing 3 early career bouts in Japan. Following that start he's gone 42-1 (38) with his only loss being a technical decision in Mexico to Carlos Cuadras, with Cuadras beginning to flag before the bout was stopped. With only that one loss in his last 43 bouts he's a confident fighter and one who will be entering this bout on the biggest win of his career.
When it comes to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez we really are talking about one of the best little men the sport has seen. He's an offensive monster who has shown his skills around the globe and notched up notable wins from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight, whilst becoming the first ever 4-weight champion from Nicaragua. Fans who understand the lower weight divisions will understand how impressive Gonzalez's record is with wins against the likes of Yutka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Akira Yaegashi, Brian Viloria and Carlos Cuadras.
Gonzalez is a highly skilled offensive fighter, who uses his offense as his best form of defense. He's throws silky smooth combinations of heavy shots, switches between head and body with easy and looks incredibly smooth in the ring. His movement is fantastic, his power is destructive and he really is a very special fighter. Sadly though as he's moved up to 115lbs we've seen his effectiveness decrease, his shots don't have the same destructive power they used to have and his relatively limited defense has caused the heavier shots of opponents at Super Flyweight to really mark him up and damage his face.
Prior to his first bout with Srisaket Gonzalez had had a poor camp with issues away from the ring, including the death of long term mentor Arnulfo Obando. He, and his team, will have learned from that but given the miles on the clock that Gonzalez has, and the miles added with every round he now fights at 115lbs, it's hard to know just how long he can keep going, despite “only” being 30.
Given the way the first bout went we're expecting something really exciting again here, we're actually expecting a repeat, rather than a revenge, with Srisaket again bullying Gonzalez en route to another win. That will kill any hopes of a show down between Gonzalez and Naoya Inoue, who makes his US debut on the same card, but that's perhaps best for Gonzalez's health if we're being honest.
The Super Flyweight division is arguably the strongest in the sport right now. It features a great selection of talents and is an incredibly deep division with probably the best top 5 and top 10 in the sport today. This coming Saturday we see a number of those top fighters in action with the most notable of those bouts being a potential FOTY contender for the WBC title, as Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38) takes on former champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น].
Whilst fans who have heard HBO fawning over Roman Gonzalez may not have heard of Srisaket the Thai should prove to be the type of fighter that will make for an insane war with Gonzalez, being similar, albeit cruder, to the Nicaraguan great.
As we all know Gonzalez became the first Nicaraguan to become a 4-weight world champion last year when he took a narrow win over Carlos Cuadras, who had actually usurped Srisaket with a technical decision in May 2014. The win over Cuadras saw Gonzalez adding the WBC Super Flyweight title to a resume that had included WBA titles at Minimumweight and Light Flyweight as well as the WBC Flyweight title. It also saw him adding Cuadras' name to a long list of great wins, which include victories over Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Akira Yaegashi and Brian Viloria.
At the lowest weights Gonzalez was a freakish monster who steam-rolled opponents. He came forward with an ultra-aggressive style and was too strong, too powerful and too aggressive for fighters at 105lbs and 108lbs. As he's moved up through the weights however he has found people who haven't buckled under his aggression, with Juan Francisco Estrada, McWilliams Arroyo and Cuadras all taking Gonzalez the distance in the last 5 years, and they are 3 of just 6 men to last 12 rounds with Gonzalez.
Coming forward with a tight guard, a lot of upper body movement, great combinations and frightening power Gonzalez is a genuine monster, and highly regarded through out the boxing world as one of, if not the, best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. That talent can only take a fighter so far and now, at Super Flyweight, some question whether or not the naturally bigger and stronger fighters will be too much for the Nicargauan.
In Srisaket we sort of have a poor man's Gonzalez, but a poor mans' Gonzalez who is a genuine Super Flyweight and looks massive at the weight. Not only that but he has took on regional Super Bantamweights, and stopped them, showing that like Gonzalez he can push around and bully naturally bigger men. Like Gonzalez he doesn't go the distance often and has stopped 38 of 41 opponents through his 8 year career. Those stoppages haven't come against the top guys in the sport, but do include wins over Yota Sato, Hirofumi Mukai and Jose Salgado.
On paper Srisaket will likely be written off by some fans who look at his record, and not the fighter. Srisaket has got a number of blotches on his record but began his career 1-3-1, being thrown in Akira Yaegashi on debut and suffering 3 set backs in Japan during an 11 month run. Since that faltering start Srisaket has gone 40-1 (37) and has proven to be a beastly lower weight fight, from a stable that also includes Suriyan Sor Rungvisai.
In the ring Srisaket is a slow stalker but one who never seems to back up, and will pursue his man until they end up being stopped. He's not a man who tends to hear the judges scorecards, and since losing to Cuadras we've seen Srisaket go 14-0 (13), his only non-stoppage being a technical decision win over Zoren Pama, in what was a flat performance from Srisaket after his loss to Cuadras. Notably he has been inactive since the end of August last year and whilst that could be a good thing, it may be a problem with Srisaket typically being a very busy fighter and a 6 month lay off might not be the best of things for him.
We know Gonzalez will start as the favourite here, that's obvious, but if we're being honest we see this as a really competitive bout. Gonzalez' lack of size will be an issue against a man like Srisaket, who is a huge puncher himself, and we'll go out on a limb and call the upset here with Srisaket eventually breaking down the smaller, but more talented, Nicaraguan in the later rounds.
There are a lot of great fights this weekend spread all around the world. For us however the most interesting, by a long way, is in Mexico.
We know a lot people reading that will be shocked that we've not gone with the big rematch in the UK between Carl Froch and George Groves, despite some of our team being British, but it's true, the fight of the night will be in Mexico as WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (27-3-1, 25) defends his belt against mandatory challenger Carlos Cuadras (29-0, 24).
On paper the bout is everything to make a boxing fan excited. We have a champion travelling to defend his belt on foreign soil, we have an unbeaten challenger looking to announce himself on the world stage, we have two giant punchers, two men with aggressive styles and two men who fight with little intention of hearing the final bell. In fact from their combined 60 bouts only 8 have gone to the final bell!
For regular readers of this site you will be perfectly aware of what we think of Srisaket. For those that aren't regular visitors we feel that he's he best Super Flyweight on the planet, a destructive ball of energy with dynamite in both hands, a steely determination to win and a vicious mentality based around not only winning but nigh on destroying any opponent who dare steps in to the ring with him.
Srisaket didn't start his career with a series of easy victories, in fact things were the polar opposite for the Thai who debuted against Akira Yaegashi, the current WBC Flyweight champion. Yaegashi over came Srisaket who was a paltry 1-3-1 after just 5 bouts.
Amazingly after the poor start to his career Srisaket knuckled down and improved, drastically. He went from inexperience novice fighting to feed himself to a violent wrecking ball in the ring who stopped 24 of his subsequent 26 opponents including Yota Sato, who Srisaket beat for the title, and Hirofumi Mukai, who has been the only challenger to Srisaket's throne so far.
In Cuadras we have a man who is the opposite to Srisaket in many ways. Cuadras is unbeaten, he was pretty much a touted prospect from the day he turned professional and treat like a fighter who was being groomed for a world title fight. He was a former amateur standout who had won tournaments such as the 2007 Pan Am Games and the 2005 International Junior Olympics and was viewed, from a young age, as a man to keep an eye on especially considering his amateur record was a reported 140-20!
Sadly for Cuadras, who is co-promoted by Japan's Teiken promotions, his amateur pedigree didn't really work as a launch platform and instead he had to slowly building his professional reputation and ranking and over the past 6 years he has been running up long an excellent 29 fight unbeaten record. Unlike Srisaket however he's yet to face a real world class opponent and the best names on Cuadras's record are Ronald Barrera, Fernando Lumacad and Victor Zaleta, all fringe world ranked fighters but a long way from the championship calibre fighters like Sato and Yaegashi.
In the career of both men they have typically found themselves as the aggressive fighter against someone who they can back up. Sure that wasn't the case in Srisaket's first 5 bouts but later on that has become the case. For this bout however they are both strong, power and aggressive fighters who will come forward in an attempt to boss the bout. With that in mind we can only see one thing happening, the two men meeting in centre ring in the opening round and refusing to back down until they either wear themselves out, wear their opponent out or, some how, reach the final bell.
What we're expecting to happen here is what we all love as boxing fans. We don't see much actual "boxing" but instead we are subjected to a 2 man war, a battle of pride, a battle of machismo and a battle of unadulterated violence. It'll be the sort of fight that reminds us what we love about this sport, the reason we follow it and the reason why we, as fans of the smaller weights, can get so excited by fights that so many fans over-look.
With Srisaket knowing he'll need a stoppage to get a win here we expect him to go all out in an attempt to batter Cuadras into submission. Cuadras, with power and skills himself, will fight back and we're hoping for a bout reminiscent of the Takashi Miura/Sergio Thompson contest from last year. If it lives up to that we'll be very happy fans and hopefully, as with Miura back then, the champion will retain in a bout that breaks the fighter from a nationally known fighter to a globally known fighter ad a globally known, must watch warrior.
It's the toughest bout of Srisaket's career since he fought Yaegashi but we still favour him to win here in what would be a genuine break out victory and a true FOTY contender.
One of the biggest upsets in Asian boxing this year was the shocking destruction of Yota Sato by the little known Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (22-3-1, 20) for the WBC Super Flyweight title.
That bout, which came back in May was Srisaket's "coming out party" as he battered and brutalised Sato in one of the most impressive performances of the year. Sato had come in to that bout on a great run, he had looked classy, skilled and very tricky though Srisaket mowed him down like a third rate challenger.
The Thai now looks to make the first defense of his WBC title as he takes on another Japanese fighter, this time in the form of Hirofumi Mukai (9-2-1, 1). A fighter whose only previous experience at the world level is a 47 second technical draw with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2011.
Going in to this bout it's fair to say that Mukai will be looking to do exactly what Srisaket did and that's lea from obscurity to world champion. Unfortunately for the light hitting Japanese fighter the odds are really stacked against him.
Firstly Mukai is very much an inexperienced professional. He has just 12 bouts on his record with a total of 78 rounds. Many of those those 12 contests have been fought at the 6 or 8 round level and in fact he's lost against his only notable Super Flyweight opponent, a second round KO loss to Mark Anthony Geraldo, just two bouts ago. It's this loss to Geraldo that really should send alarm bells ringing.
On the flipside of that however Mukai is a talented boxer. His victory over Sonny Boy Jaro very early in his career showed glimpses of a very promising prospect with good movement, good fundamentals and nice hand speed. Unfortunately since then he has has suffered losses to Rocky Fuentes and Geraldo as well the draw with Wonjongkam.
Srisaket is almost the stylistic opposite of Mukai. He looks, at times, like he lacks some boxing fundamentals. He can look crude, he can look wild and he can look reckless. However Srisaket is both destructive and more intelligent than he looks in the ring. He's excellent at cutting off the ring, he closes the distance surprisingly easily and most interestingly is the fact he can break opponents down upstairs, downstairs or mentally.
With Srisaket's busy style it's be easy to assume his work rate would wear him out quickly. Amazingly however he seems to have an amazing engine. Sure we've only seen Srisaket go beyond 7 rounds twice in his 26 fight career but he was still as active in round 8 against Sato as he had been earlier in the same fight.
With it being obvious that Mukai won't have the power to keep Srisaket honest we really can't see any out come other than a Srisaket stoppage victory. If Gerlado can do it in two then it'd be a shock if it takes Srisaket much longer.
We think that Srisaket may take a round to try and see what Mukai has then swarm all over him cutting the ring off and breaking down the Japanese challenger in a dominant and destructive performance.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
A little over a year ago boxing fans were baying for an all Thai Super Flyweight title unification bout. Those dreams were ended in March 2012 when the over-looked Yota Sato (26-2-1, 12) upset the then WBC champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai.
Since claiming the title Sato, 29, has been a genuine fighting champion having already recorded 2 genuinely solid victories over Sylvester Lopez and Ryo Akaho. He now looks for his 3rd defense as he travels to Si Sa Ket in Thaialnd to face the hard hitting Srisaket Sor Ringvisai (18-3-1, 17) in what promises to be an intriguing contest with a lot more than just a belt at stake.
For the Rungvisai stable this is a big chance to avenge the loss of Suriyan who was in Japan when he was out pointed by Sato in a genuinely enthralling bout. On the other hand a victory for Sato would be the first ever successful defense by a native Japanese fighter in Thailand (following in the foot-steps of Russian born but Japanese based Yuri Arbachakov a little over 20 years ago).
The Japanese champion (pictured above) is the better known fighter. Internationally he may have only popped on to the world scene when he defeated Suriyan though he had been a Japanese champion for around 2 years (including 4 months as an "interim" champion). As well as holding the national title he had claimed victories over Daigo Nakahiro and Kohei Kono (both had challenged for world titles and Kono has since gone on to claim the WBA Super Flyweight title) as well as the then unbeaten Kenji Oba. All 3 of those were genuinely quality wins.
The 26 year old Srisaket however is much less well known. He's part of the same stable that looks after Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and his younger brother Nawaphon Por Chokchai and so there is quality in the stable and when talking about him Srisaket is a pure puncher, his record has seen him never winning a distance fight (his only decision victory was a 4 round technical decision). At the moment it's fair to say that Srisaket is on a genuine hot streak having won his last 17 straight, after losing 3 of his first 5 (including a debut loss to current WBC Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi and former Sato opponent Kenji Oba).
In terms of his style Sato is a quick fighter who can brawl (as he had to against Suriyan) and he can box. Sure he's not a huge puncher but he did twice drop Suriyan and when he connect clean he can hurt fighters with his crisp shots. His movement is very good and technically he is very solid. There isn't that much to pick up with him though the fact he can get dragged in to a brawl could be a problem.
On the opposite side of the fence Srisaket is, as mentioned above a puncher who would love a tear up with Sato. He's not the most technical, his footwork leaves plenty to be desired and his punches at times look wild and sloppy, though everyone of them is thrown with bad intentions. Worryingly for Srisaket is the fact he's only ever been beyond 5 rounds twice in his career (he's 0-1-1 in those two fights) and his stamina is relatively untested a real issue when you consider his style.
One of the big issues for Sato, is as mentioned above, no native Japanese fighter has ever defended a world title in in Thailand. The conditions in Thailand for fighters really does work in the favour of the Thai's who are used to not only the heat and humidity but also the peculiar way that the fights are fought outdoors in the middle of the day. This, combined with the crowds often see the Thai's claiming victories over more respected international fighters. Whilst Sato has said he wants to make history it'll be a tough ask.
In a neutral venue it's hard to go against Sato, he's more proven, more skilled, more experienced and a genuine champion. In Thailand however it really toughens the decision and to say it's 50-50 wouldn't be far off. If forced to make a decision one way or another, it'd be with Sato who is likely to see out the first 6 rounds then take Srisaket in to deep water.
In preparation for this promising title bout it made sense to include a short clip from Sato's title winning performance against Suriyan Sor Rungvisai from March 2012 (courtesy of CarlosBoxful). If Sato v Srisaket ends up being half as good then we are in for one fantastic bout.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.