The main event for the show is what people in the UK care about however we're equally as interested in a second bout on the same show, a bout that pits Thailand's very experienced Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat (52-2, 34) against Britain's very own Jamie McDonnell (23-2-1, 10) in a battle for the vacant WBA Bantamweight title.
This bout is one that has been made due to the messed up political situation boxing currently has. At the moment we have a WBA Bantamweight "Super" champion in the form of the excellent Anselmo Moreno, the only man in the 118lb division that we think would have any chance of beating Shinsuke Yamanaka. We did, last year, have a WBA "regular" champion in the form of Koki Kameda who vacated the belt and moved to the Super Flyweight division to avoid a bout with the excellent Moreno.
Rather than just get fighters to face Moreno to become a champion the WBA have taken the dubious step of allowing fighters lower down the food chain to battle each other for the "regular" title and, as a result, we have this bout.
For Tabtimdaeng it's a real reward and a major opportunity though it's not one we particularly agree with him getting.
The Thai, who is a long reigning PABA Bantamweight champion, has done everything right in recent years. He has won, and defended, the regional PABA belt, he has "earned" a high WBA ranking thanks to playing the political games that are open to him as the PABA champion and he has run together an excellent winning streak of 18 fights.
Of course many of Tabtimdaeng's victories have come against limited and poor opponents. His 18 successive wins have come in less than 3.5 years as he has viewed activity, and getting paid, ahead of fighting tougher bouts with more risk of losing. In Thailand of course a fighter fights as their job and fighting regular mismatches allows a fighter to pick up a payment as well as staying in shape and effectively get paid to partake in an exhibition bout.
Incidentally the Thai system of fighting regular actually seems similar to the old British system of the now forgotten "Boxing Booths" which were a side show at fairs and were where a lot of British fighters from yesteryear, such as Jimmy Wilde, made their reputation and honed their skills.
One man who has never in a boxing booth is McDonnell who despite being from Britain would probably not know much, if anything about the boxing booths. Despite that he is a genuine world class talent with a fantastic engine, a great work rate, under-rated skills and exciting all action style. He's not quite Leo Santa Cruz but when he gets going there are a lot of similar traits between McDonnell and Santa Cruz who both throw a lot of shots, both bring a lot of pressure and both are fun to watch with intelligent body work despite both generally being tall at their respective weights.
McDonnell is unfortunately a man who has been on the bad of the political game, having won the IBF Bantamweight title with a great victory over big punching Mexican Julio Ceja before being stripped due to failing to meet a mandatory challenge that he wasn't aware of after a fall out with his then promoter. For him this opportunity is a chance to become a 2-time world and finally have a reign worth remember as opposed to the one that was heart breakingly short and unsatisfactory.
We are fans of McDonnell and it's hard not to be. He's on a 15 fight run himself and has notched up numerous notable wins including Ian Napa, Jerome Arnold, Stephan Jamoye, Stuart Hall, Julio Ceja and Bernard Inom, he's not unbeatable but he's a very good boxer.
Unfortunately for Tabtimdaeng the fact McDonnell is good means he's in for a very tough assignment. Tabtimdaeng is strong and aggressive, he's a front foot fighter but he's also not a very rounded one, in fact he's very basic, he comes forward pretty straight on, he doesn't mix up his work a lot and he doesn't have thunderous power. In fact Tabtimdaeng's 63% stoppage ratio is very over-inflated and we'd suggest that if he had fought McDonnell's opponents we'd probably be looking at him stopping less than 40%.
With Tabtimdaeng being an aggressively minded fighter and McDonnell having a high out put we imagine this bout will be fun to watch, not as exciting as the main event but still very fun. Sadly however we think Tabtimdaeng is going to walk into a lot of solid shots. McDonnell isn't a heavy puncher but he keeps firing and those shots each take an effect. We think the accumulation of McDonnell's work will eventually grind down the Thai ending his world title dreams though, hopefully, Tabtimdeang can put up a good effort that could see some fans extra following him after the bout.
(Image courtesy of Secondsout
Video below, from the face off, courtesy of iFL TV)