Thailand has many big fights fought outdoors in sweltering daytime heat with humid and sticky hot air, a crowd baying for blood and generally the nastiest conditions in boxing. It's something that the Thai's use to give their fighters home advantage and whilst it seems "unfair" in some ways it is why their promoters pay big money to get fights at home and why so many Thai's do so well when fighting in their homeland.
Whilst the conditions are nasty to say the least that's not the only reason they win fights, but it does help as evidenced again earlier today when unbeaten Thai Wanheng Menayothin (36-0, 12) claimed the WBC Minimumweight title and stopped Mexican visitor Oswaldo Novoa (14-5-1, 9), who refused to come out for round 10.
The fight started at a great pace, as do most top level Minimumweight contests. Wanheng tried to impose his pressure whilst Novoa fought back with bursts of attack that seemed to catch the eye but not quite do enough to win the rounds. It was clear that we were in for a good one as soon as the first round had ended and things seemed to just get better with the second being fought at an even better pace than the first with some great action on the inside as the distance was quickly cut between the two men.
When we had the first batch of open scoring the cards read 40-36, twice, and 39-37 with all 3 cards favouring the Thai. The two shut outs seemed slightly harsh on the Mexican though they seemed to act as as fire in his belly as he put his foot on the gas in the middle rounds and fought back excellently as he found a new gear. They saw the defending champion claw back some rounds and by the end of the 8th round, a round in which both men were rocked, the fight was very nicely poised with cards that read 76-76, 77-75 and a frankly ridiculous 79-73. Ignoring the one poor card it seemed that the fight was all to play for going into the final few rounds.
Unfortunately for Novoa it seemed the effort he had put into the middle section of fight was beginning to tell on his as he began to slow through round 9 and Wanheng stepped it up again. Suddenly what was looking like a really competitive fight began looking less and less competitive with the Mexican clearly wilting in front of our eyes. He still looked like he had some fight in him but wasn't the fighter he had been in the middle section of the fight and he seemed to know it as he remained in his corner at the end of round and refused to come out for the tenth.
The result was somewhat anti-climatic given some of the exciting action we had seen earlier in the contest however we suspect that had the bout continued then Novoa would have been stopped in the championship rounds had he continued to feel the pace of the fight.
For Novoa this ends a relatively short reign that began in China when he stopped Xiong Zhao Zhong earlier this year whilst for Wanheng this win gives real substance to his record which was looking rather thin prior to this win. Hopefully we'll get a strong reign from Menayothin though we wouldn't be surprised to see him becoming the target of fighters like Kosei Tanaka who we suspect be in the hunt of a world title in 2015.
(Image courtesy of our great friends at Thairec.com)