The WBA “interim” titles have become a real issue, though one the WBA now seem to finally be stamping out. For a long time the titles were used to collect extra sanctioning fees for bouts that typically don't feature a world class fighter as opposed to temporarily filling a void following an injury to the champion. Sometimes they do however lead to good bouts, though bouts that could have been made as eliminators
In the talent laden Flyweight division, which features the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka, Juan Carlos Reveco, Amnat Ruenroeng, Brian Viloria, Takuya Kogawa, Edgar Sosa, Johnriel Casimero, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and McWilliams Arroyo the need for the best to face the best is obvious, especially for titles and for the major recognition that those top tier belts bring for the fights.
Unfortunately rather than the WBA forcing bouts between the likes of Ioka and Estrada they have allowed 3 title holders, and essentially extended a joke that was never funne. Estrada is the “Super” champion, Ioka the “regular” champion and little known Thai Stamp Kiatniwat the “interim” champion.
On December 10th, Stamp (14-0, 6) was supposed to defend his title against the man he beat for the belt, Gregorio Lebron(13-3, 11), for whatever reason that bout was delayed and will now take place this coming Friday, leading Thai fans to get a second “world level” rematch in as many days.
The first bout between the two men came back in August and saw Stamp claim a majority decision over Lebron, a fighter from the Dominican republic, courtesy of two 10-8 rounds. The decision upset Lebron's team, who accused two of the judges of bias and lead to the WBA calling for a rematch, leaving us where we are now.
In their first bout both took turns to be the aggressor in what was a solid bout overall, and the perfect eliminator type bout. Although a vaunted puncher Lebron only really seemed to hurt Stamp once whilst Stamp scored two knockdowns, and came the closest to forcing the referee to stop the fight. For many who watched the fight though Stamp was spending too many rounds being negative, inactive and backing off rather than than making the most of his speed and skills.
Since their first bout neither man has fought, however they have both aged. For Stamp that will have seen the teenager mature and grow more into a man, and the time between the originally scheduled date and the actually bout will have given yet more time to mature. He's still a teenager but certainly a more mature man than he was in their first meeting. For Lebron he's aged and is now heading towards his 34th birthday, an old age for a man in the lower weights. Saying that however Lebron hasn't been in a lot of wars and has only tasted 53 rounds of professional experience, with 12 of them coming against Stamp in their first meeting, making him a very fresh 33 year old.
In their first fight it was Stamp who looked the more intelligent fighter, especially early on when he landed counter hooks, flashy combinations and showed good movement. He was however the man who was under-pressure and looked like a fighter unsure of himself a sign of his youth and inexperience. Lebron however looked like a powerful and aggressive man, looking to teach the youngster lesson with his power punches. We're expecting much of the same here, with Stamp looking to use Lebron's pressure against him whilst Lebron will again be looking to use his vaunted power to stop the youngster, and keep the judges out of the result rather than risk another decision loss.
For both men however this bout will be different to their first. Lebron will know the officiating away from home isn't as favourable as it is at home. He'll be more aggressive and look for the KO more than he did last time out, taking more risks and throwing more reckless and wild hayemakers. As for Stamp he'll likely have fewer lulls and be less negative. When he attacks he'll look to make a bigger statement and try to make his rounds clearer when he wins them. The Thai may also swing less widely when he attacks, having missed wildly with a number of left hands in the middle rounds.
Like their first bout we're expecting to see Lebron coming forward and Stamp countering. We however think that Stamp will manage to up the ante late and force a late stoppage on to the hard hitting Dominican who we know can be hurt by Stamp.
For those who missed the first one, we've included it below.
The WBA “interim” titles have become a real issue. No longer are the titles used for the original purpose of being an “interim” belt but instead they act as a whole new title allowing the WBA to collect extra sanctioning fees for bouts that typically don't feature a world class fighter. Sometimes they lead to good bouts, though bouts that could easily have been eliminators, other times however the bouts are little more than a marketing tool for the promoters to make money and sell a show.
In the talent laden Flyweight division, which features the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka, Juan Carlos Reveco, Amnat Ruenroeng, Brian Viloria, Takuya Kogawa, Edgar Sosa, Johnriel Casimero, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and McWilliams Arroyo the need for the best to face the best is obvious, especially for titles.
Unfortunately rather the WBA forcing bouts between the likes of Ioka and Estrada they have allowed 3 title holders. Estrada is the “Super” champion, Ioka the “regular” champion and Stamp Kiatniwat the “interim” champion.
On December 10th, 3 weeks before Ioka faces Reveco in a rematch, we'll see Stamp (14-0, 6) defend his title against the man he beat for the belt, Gregorio Lebron (13-3, 11).
Their first bout, which came back in August, saw Stamp claim a majority decision over Lebron, a fighter from the Dominican republic, courtesy of two 10-8 rounds. The decision seemed to upset Lebron's team, who accused two of the judges of bias and lead to the WBA calling for a rematch, leaving us where we are now.
In their first bout both took turns to be the aggressor in what was a brilliant bout overall. Although a vaunted puncher Lebron only really seemed to hurt Stamp once whilst Stamp scored two knockdowns, and came the closest to forcing the referee to stop the fight. For many who watched the fight though Stamp was spending too many rounds being negative and backing off rather than than making the most of his speed and skills.
Since their first bout neither man has fought, however they have both aged. For Stamp that will have seen the teenager mature and grow more into a man. He's still a teenager but certainly a more mature man than he was in their first meeting. For Lebron he's aged and is now heading towards his 34th birthday, an old age for a man in the lower weights. Sayign that however Lebron hasn't been in many wars and has only tasted 53 rounds of professional experience, making him a very fresh 33 year old.
In their first fight it was Stamp who looked the more intelligent fighter, especially early on, when he landed counter hooks, flashy combinations and showed good movement. He was however the man who was under-pressure and looked like a fighter unsure of himself. Lebron however looked like a powerful and aggressive man, looking to teach the boy a lesson with his power punches. We're expecting much of the same here, with Stamp looking to use Lebron's pressure against him whilst Lebron will again be looking to use his vaunted power to stop the youngster, and keep the judges out of the result.
For both men however this bout will be different to their first. Lebron will know the judging away from home isn't as favourable as it is at home. He'll be more aggressive and look for the KO more intently than he did last time out. As a result he may take more risks and leave himself more open to the counters of the Thai. As for Stamp he may himself have fewer lulls, make a bigger statement when he attacks and try to make his rounds clear when he wins them. The Thai may also swing less widely when he attacks, having missed wildly with a number of left hands in the middle rounds. We suspect the key difference will be confidence with both men feeling more confident this time around and both looking to make the most of that when they get in the ring.
We suspect that this will have a lot moments like their first fight, with Lebron coming forward and Stamp countering. We however think that Stamp will manage to prove a point and score a stoppage late in the bout, proving that he has improved from the first bout and that he has matured as both a man and a fighter
The WBA “interim” titles are a scourge to boxing. There are simply too many of them and too many are going to undeserving fighters, often beating fighters who deserved to be no where near a title opportunity themselves. Whilst sometimes the interim titles give us amazing fights, such as 2013's war between Koki Eto and Kompayak Porpramook, they tend to be mismatches to give one fighter a leg up at the expense of an over-matched and under-whelming foe, such as Randy Petalcorin's bout with Walter Tello from last year.
We suspect we're about to see another of those good match ups in late July as the WBA attempt to appease their friends in Thailand and help make Stamp Kiatniwat (13-0, 6) a “world champion” aged just 17.
Stamp, who has been impressive at times, will be taking on little known Dominican puncher Gregorio Lebron (13-2, 11) for the WBA “interim” Flyweight title. A belt that was last held by another Thai, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep who managed to take it from the aforementioned Koki Eto.
On paper the bout looks like a good test for Stamp, the usual step up in class where a fighter moves from facing journeymen to opponents that try to win. In reality however the bout is a politic move by the WBA who seem to already know that Stamp could be worth a lot of money for a Flyweight and is unlikely to really push for fights with either the WBA “regular” or “super” champions. It's another nice revenue stream for the “Association”, but one that further dents their reputation, or what is left of their reputation.
Stamp Kiatniwat is a really promising young fighter. The 18 year old has been a pro for little more than 2 years and yet has already scored a really big win over Kwanthai Sithmorseng. That win should entitle the youngster to, at very least, a world ranking. He has also won, and defended, the interim PABA Flyweight title, further winning favour with the WBA. For Stamp to have a world ranking, and for Stamp to be considered a viable challenger to a world champion isn't hard to believe, even if that ranking was the lower end of the top 15 and his shot was a voluntary shot by a generous champion.
Typically Thai boxers are known as relatively basic come-forward guys who are very strong but not the most technically astute fighters. Stamp however is a bit more of a rounded boxer with a boxer-puncher style who enjoys fighting at mid-range, can force the action or fight as a counter-puncher. At the moment he does appear to lack his “man strength”, though as a teenager that is to be expected, though that lack of power has almost forced him into needing to hone his skills. Sometimes however he does get caught in the almost stereotypical “Thai” mindset of “I'm going to outfight you”, which was a massive issue against the tough Espinos Sabu who really pushed Stamp hard.
On paper the best win Stamp has was the one over Kwanthai, a former world champion, in reality however the win over Sabu was the most telling. Stamp boxed excellently early on, with a very sharp jab, intelligent movement and good counters. Later in the bout however he seemed to run out of steam and was really forced to grit his teeth and see out the storm. That would have been an excellent learning experience for the youngster who will have developed more in the final few rounds of that fight than in all the other bouts together.
As for Lebron the 33 year old has done very little of note. He has beaten 4 fighters with winning records and is on an 11 fight winning streak, including a win over Angelo Munoz for the WBA Fedelatin title last September, in what is Lebron's most recent bout, 10 months ago. That win was Lebron's biggest to date, after a 4 year career.
From the footage of Lebron he's a strong looking pressure fighter, a bit of a bull in fact. He appears to be very strong, comes forward with a lot of upper body movement and looks like a very confident fighter capable of cutting the ring down. He's not the quickest, or most accurate, but he looks like the sort of fighter who could be a very good gatekeeper for the division.
On paper Lebron looks like a big puncher. From the footage we've seen it seems more that he's heavy handed rather than a KO artist, but every shot he lands takes a toll and is thrown with bad intentions. Not only does he put real spite on his shots but he throws vicious combinations when he has a stationary target. If you can limit him to one shot at a time you have a chance to make him miss and make him pay, however if you stand and trade with him he could really do damage.
To date all of Lebron's bouts have been in the Dominican Republic, a stark world of difference to Thailand. He has looked impressive and he passes the “eye test” if you will, even if his competition does leave a lot to be desired. This is a huge step up for him, but it's impossible to rule him out given what we've seen.
Whilst we are cynical about the WBA's motives in making this bout we must admit that this actually should be a really good fight. We know Lebron's competition has been terrible, really it has, but watching him suggests he can actually fight. If Lebron is as good as recent footage suggests, he could end up being a real surprise package for the Thai's who well have over-looked him. Stamp is the more technically proficient fighter but Lebron is the bigger puncher, looks to be the stronger guy and certainly not the type of guy you want to stand and fight with. If Stamp decides to trade we'll find out a lot about his toughness, though we suspect the Thai will try to stay on the move and use his movement, as well as the Thai conditions, to try and take a decision.
(Image courtesy of "The Champion Thailand")
The interim WBA Flyweight title may only be an interim title but yet over the past year or so it has brought us some incredibly memorable performances and fights.
Last August we saw Koki Eto beat Kompayak Porpramook in a Fight of the Year candidate, just months later Eto lost his title, in his first defense, to Thailand's Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (30-2, 20). Yodmongkol, pictured, may not have had a big name but he did have a big performance and genuinely impressed us all.
Yodmongkol returns to the ring on March 4th for his first bout since becoming the "interim" champion.
In the opposite corner to Yodmongkol is Japan's Takuya Kogawa (22-3 13). Kogawa, fighting in is second world title fight, will be hoping for a better result than when he was last in Thailand, losing a close but clear decision to Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
When Yodmongkol fought Eto we thought Yodmongkol was a sizeable under-dog. We thought he was unprepared for an offensive warrior like Eto though it turned out that Yodmongkol was just as much of a warrior as Eto and eventually broke down the Japanese fighter. The worrying thing about Yodmongkol though is that at just 23 he's yet to reach his physical prime and he is still improving fight after fight. Over the next few year we can only imagine him getting better and him getting stronger, a terrifying combination.
As well as the fact that Yodmongkol is improving in terms of skills he is also improving in terms of confidence. He is currently on a 27 fight unbeaten streak dating back almost 4 years. Success breeds success and it also breeds confidence, fair to say that Yodmongkol is becoming more confident and has more belief in his skills than he did when he was just a teenager.
For Kogawa this is a tough, tough assignment.
We all know that Japanese fighters have fared terrible on Thai soil. Eto's victory over Porpramook is thought to be the first "world" title fight victory by a Japanese fighter on Thai soil and we all saw what happened to him when he faced Yodmongkol.
What will make things more difficult for Kogawa than other fighters who have gone over to Thailand from Japan is the fact Kogawa's confidence will be low. He was defeated last time out when fought Suguru Muranaka, losing the Japanese Flyweight title in the process, and having lost in his only prior fight on the road it's hard to imagine he will cope well with the always treacherous Thai conditions.
When a fighter goes over to Thailand, no matter where they are from, they are subjected to a very unusual situation. Firstly the fights are in the middle of the day, the temperatures are hot, the air is often sticky and worst of all the fights are often outdoors in temporary venues. What this results in is a very draining venue that sees Thai's getting an advantage based on the fact they are more accustomed to fighting in the conditions. For visitors however it must be unbearable.
In terms of the styles of the two fighters we have a fast footed and fleet fisted challenger who likes to move in and out throwing combinations against a come forward pressure fighter. This should see some great exchanges, some highlight style back and forth action though at the end of the day Kogawa's style could be his downfall.
Kogawa's style is tiring and in the Thai conditions it's doubly tiring. He works hard with his feet, he works hard with his flurries and he works hard to get off his shots. What doesn't help him is his lack of power which can often mean he needs to work harder to make a fighter respect him. Although some may suggest that Kogawa is a more solid puncher that we're suggesting, considering he has stopped 3 of his last 4 opponents, he did score 2 of those stoppages against very limited opposition and has actually only stopped 3 of his last 8 opponents.
With Yodmongkol what you get is a pretty typical "Thai style". He hads his hands up, he comes forward and he looks to apply constant pressure. When in range he will unload shots and try to slow his opponents down with both the pressure and body shots. As well as the pressure and body shots Yodmongkol also has very good timing with his head shots and throws some very good counters that seem to look wild but land at an alarming accurate rate.
If Kogawa wants to try and jump in and out he may have some success, at least early on. He will however need to have an insane gas tank to keep it up for 12 rounds and he'll also have to mix it up to prevent Yodmongkol from timing him. Unfortunately for the Japanese fighter this gives him several problems. He needs to work hard but he can't burn out, he needs to attack but he can't get predictable. It's hard to see him managing to solve both of those problems against an aggressively minded fighter like Yodmongkol.
What we're expecting is that Kogawa starts fast and gets in to his rhythm early on. Unfortunately for him the conditions and the pressure of Yodmongkol takes it's toll by round 4 or 5 and by the championship rounds Kogawa's early lead has been over-turned. Whilst we do expect Kogawa to see out the 12 rounds we don't imagine him looking too great come the final bell as Yodmongkol makes the first successive defense of his title and takes his next step towards become a notable name on the world stage.
Whilst Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is the front runner for our "revelation of 2013" we feel there is one other stand out contender for that award. Koki Eto (14-2-1, 10), the current WBA interim Flyweight champion.
Whilst Srisaket destroyed Japan's Yota Sato in destructive fashion earlier this year there is no arguing that Koki Eto put on one of the most astonishing displays of the year as he defeated Kompayak Porpramook for the WBA interim belt.
Eto's victory over Porpramook was an historic one. It was the first ever time a Japanese born fighter had gone over to Thailand and beaten a Thai in a world title bout.
Rather than relying on his laurels Eto will return to Thailand on Friday in an attempt catch lightning in a bottle a second time and defend his belt for the first time, thus becoming the first ever Japanese born fighter to defend a title successfully in Thailand.
In Eto's way on Friday will be Thailand's very own Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (32-2, 19), a man also known by the moniker Yodmongkol CP Freshmart.
Although Yodmongkol has an impressive 34 fights on his ledger he's surprisingly young at just 22 years old and even more impressively he comes to the ring on a 26 fight unbeaten run that dates back to April 2010. This staggering run of the Thai's saw him claiming the WBC Youth World Light Flyweight title in August 2010 and defending it on a very frequent basis.
The one problem with Yodmongkol isn't his experience per se but the level of his experience. To date the most notable opponents on his record have been Rolio Golez, Sammy Hagler, Jerson Luzarito, Crison Omayao, Jack Amisa and Edison Berwela. Basically journeymen and Filipino domestic level fighters. Despite that however he's active, having had 6 fights already this year, and he's talented.
Although Yodmongkol is talented we can't help but think that Eto will be coming in to this bout with a lot of confidence and the sort of mentality that nobody can beat him. Not even Thai's. This will make Eto very dangerous and we expect the Japanese fighter to go for the kill from the off with his incredible work rate and power.
Yodmongkol will try and fight off Eto though we sort of imagine this is going to be similar to the recent Srisaket v Mukai bout where the brave challenger doesn't have the fire power to stave off a determined champion. Hopefully a win here for Eto will see him returning to Japan a man who can have big fights at home. In fact Eto against Akira Yaegashi would be a phenomenal war in 2014, whilst Eto against Kazuto Ioka would be a big test for Ioka and Eto against Toshiyuki Igarashi would be nothing short of a war.
Of course if Yodmongkol wins then the future could be interesting for Thailand at 112lbs and he'll have avenged stablemate Kompayak's loss from back in August. Unfortunately however a Yodmongkol/Kompayak bout be very unlikely due to the promotional situation of the two men.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Thai veteran Kompayak Porpramook (50-4, 35) is one of those fighters that has really battled away in his career to make a name for himself.
It took Porpramook more than 11 years and 45 fights to earn his first world title shot. When he finally got it he showed the world what he could do in a thrilling contest with Adrian Hernandez. The contest with Hernandez saw Porpramook earning the WBC Light Flyweight title, though unfortunately he'd drop it less than a year later with Hernandez defeating him.
Although Porpramook's first title reign was short lived he refused to accept that that was going to be his only reign and has since claimed the WBA "interim" Flyweight title, a title he defends for the first time on August first.
In the opposite corner to the 31 year old Thai will be young Japanese fighter Koki Eto (13-2-1, 10), a 25 year old who's career has been almost the opposite of Porpramook's.
Whilst Porpramook had to wait and wait for his first title fight Eto has received his inside 5 years of his debut and in just his 17th professional contest. He has, admittedly, climbed in to the rankings quickly and been pushed hard towards a world title but it may still grate on the Thai that he was forced to wait a long time whilst Eto has had his chance without really paying his dues.
Despite being 31 Porpramook has made the move from Light Flyweight to Flyweight excellently and in his most recent bout, a stoppage over Jean Piero Perez, he looked like a fighter who still had several years left at the top.
Porpramook is a hard nosed warrior with heart, a fighters mentality and a style that is hard not to enjoy. He comes to fight every time and whilst he's not the most skilled he knows how to get the most out of what he has as he fights his way inside and goes to war in a style that is both damaging and draining to his opponents.
In the last 10 years Porpramook is unbeaten in Thailand. He not only knows how to fight but he's also a fighter who can cope very well with the harsh conditions of fights in his homeland. His victory over Hernandez was as much about the conditions as Porpramook's own talent, though of course he had to fight in the same conditions.
Whilst on the subject of Thailand it's worth noting that this won't be Eto's first fight there having fought there just under 2 years ago. Although Eto lost in his Thai debut, dropping a decision to Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, he really did run Panomroonglek close an impressive result considering Panomroonglek almost defeated Koki Kameda just a few fights later.
Although Eto lost to Panomroonglek his record against Thai's current stands at an impressive 6-1 (5) including a stunning KO over the previously unbeaten Denchailek Kratingdaenggym.
Sadly for Eto the win over Denchailek was a bit of a double edged sword. It showed off that he was a powerful puncher but also that he had no idea how to use his size to his advantage and very poor defense.
Whilst Eto can bang (and has shown that numerous times) the way to beat Propramook is to box and move. The Thai is a demon on the inside a waging a war with him is never a good idea. Sure Porpramook can be hurt and has been stopped 3 times in his 4 losses but the last time he was stopped in Thailand was back in 2002 by Allan Ranada, he has improved a lot since then.
If Porpramook, as we expect, can make the fight in to a war we actually think this could be one of those "sleeper fight of the year" contenders. You know, the fights that are amazing yet very few people give it a second glance on paper. Unfortunately if this is a war only man is going to win it and that's the Thai.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
To kick off an excellent series of world title bouts in Asia, veteran Thai Kompayak Porpramook (49-4, 34) takes on Venezuelan Jean Piero Perez (20-5-1, 14) for the WBA "interim" Flyweight title.
The 30 year old Propramook (pictured) will be looking for his second world title after having claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title back in November 2011, winning a FOTY contender with Adrian Hernandez. Although his reign didn't last long the victory did help put the diminutive Thai on the boxing map with many describing the bout as one of the best in recent times.
Since beating Hernandez, Porpramook has claimed a controversial victory over unknown Filipino Jonathan Taconing in his only win of note whilst also losing a rematch to Hernandez, in Hernandez's native Mexico. The loss to Hernandez ended a fabulous run of 24 straight victories for Porpramook following a stoppage loss to Hussein Hussein back in 2006.
Having been a career fighter at Light Flyweight this is the first real test Porpramook will have at Flyweight, one of the most exciting divisions in world boxing right now. Whilst he may not be facing a major name, he is facing a very dangerous opponent in the form of Perez.
Perez, a former WBA "interim" Flyweight champion is a fighter who has been over-looked by many going in to this bout though gave the very highly regarded Milan Melindo a stiff test last year. Although Melindo came through with the victory over Perez he knew he had been in a fight as he was left bloodied and struggling to survive the late rounds.
Although Perez goes into this bout with more losses than Porpramook he has arguably faced better competition with the likes of Melindo, Juan Carlos Reveco and Rafael Concepcion all being high level fighters. He is also naturally a bigger man than the stocky Thai who will be giving away several inches in reach and height.
Aged 32 Perez will know that this could be his last chance at a title and he'll be a very dangerous opponent for Porpramook, however with the Thai being younger and at home it's hard not to favour him in what could turn out to be another FOTY contender. Expect to see this fought in a phone booth with body shots from Porpramook being the order of the day as both men looks to claim a very notable win. With both men there to make a point and with the intimate surroundings that are typical with big fights in Thailand, expect the crowd to roar on the action and drive both the fighters to putting it all on the line.
I'm going with Porpramook via late stoppage with the body shots and the heat wearing down Perez, though a victory for the Venezuelan cannot be ruled out especially with his size advantage. All I can say for sure is that I cannot wait to see what goes on when the two men collide inside the ring.
To help get fans into the mood for this bout I've included the excellent Porpramook v Hernandez I bout from 2011 courtesy of chompupan. Enjoy!
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.