The bout in question saw the previously unbeaten Thai Nawaphon Por Chokchai (36-1, 28) [นวพล นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น] face off against excellent Mexican Mexican Juan Hernandez Navarrete (34-2, 25).
On paper the bout looked excellent two veterans up against each other to crown a champion. The reality however was that the bout pitted a world class fighter against a regional can crusher, and it was clear that the two fighters were in totally levels from the opening moments. Straight from the off Hernandez looked crisp, sharp and like a man who belonged at world level, something his recent run of results with wins over Jesus Silvestre, Omar Nino Romero and Ramon Garcia Hirales all suggested. Nawaphon on the other hand looked slow, sluggish, like a man walking through treacle in comparison to the Mexican.
The opening round was a clear one for the visitor, who was too accurate, too busy, too quick and too smart and it was clear that Nawaphon had to up the tempo, which he did in round 2. The second was a much better round for the Thai, who closed the distance with more success, and landed some decent blows of his own. It was a good comeback round, but seemed to show that Nawaphon had to work much harder for his moments than the relaxed Mexican, who never looked in any trouble even when the Thai was having his best moments.
In round 3 Nawaphon tried to amp up his pressure further but Hernandez was wise to it, and moved around the ring with real grace, tagging the Thai and getting away, whilst Nawaphon struggled to let his hands go when he managed to close the distance. A hard 1-2 from Hernandez stunned the Thai and a follow up sent him down. Nawaphon, to his credit, got to his feet but had no answer as Hernandez began to unload, looking for a finish. Nawaphon tried to cover up but shots got through and eventually the referee stepped in to save Nawaphon, just as Nawaphon seemed to begin firing back.
Although some may dispute the stoppage it did look like a decent one with Nawahpon having began to fall apart and prior to the stoppage he had looked lost with no answers to Hernandez's movement, speed or skills.
The result was a frustrating one for the Nakornluang stable who had paid big money to host the fight in Thailand and had also seen Pongsaklek Sithdabnij suffering a loss to another Mexican fighter on the under-card.
The new champion is said to be a target for Daigo Higa, with Higa's team expected to make an offer to lure the new champion to Japan later in the year. Although Higa is much less experienced than Nawaphon it's fair to say he's already a much more proven fighter and a much more worth while title contender than the Thai was here.