After a trio of title fights, including the very controversial contest between Simpiwe Vetyeka and Nonito Donaire, in Macau we then saw Thailand's Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat (52-3, 34) attempt to claim the vacant WBA Bantamweight title as he travelled to the UK to fight Britain's very own Jamie McDonnell (24-2-1, 11).
The first round saw McDonnell boxing well with his jab and movement keeping the Thai at bay. From then on though life got difficult for the very talented Englishman who was put under intense pressure round after round by a man determined to make life difficult.
Tabtimdaeng, although not the smoothest boxer in the world, brought waves of pressure, cutting the ring off, getting inside and trying to break down McDonnell with pressure and work rate. It made things really interesting to watch and forced McDonnell to use his feet, use his pure boxing and hand speed to avoid a flat out tear up. It was still entertaining but wasn't a war.
The key problem for Tabtimdaeng wasn't the size in the end but the difference in skills and McDonnell was too defensively sound for Tabtimdaeng's wide swipes and too sharp offensively to miss the Thai. So accurate were some of McDonnell's shots that they made him look world class but for many of the rounds they had little lasting effect on the Thai who was, genuinely, tough as they come and just kept coming forward no matter how many shots he had to take to try and close the distance.
Unfortunately for Tabtimdaeng the more effort he put in the more tired he was becoming and by rounds 8 he was noticeably slowing. The slowing Tabtimdaeng got the easier it was for McDonnell to land his classy bursts both upstairs and downstairs. The Thai was still applying pressure but was have less and less success whilst he slowly becoming a human punch bag. It seemed unlikely McDonnell could hurt him but it also seemed like he was too far behind on the cards to even comprehend beating the Englishman.
The ending came suddenly in round 10 as McDonnell landed a pin point left hook on the chin of the Thai went down hard. The guts and bravery of Tabtimdaeng saw him rising to his feet but he had no idea where he was. It was a shock to see him down, especially considering how tough he had looked in the the first 9 rounds but it was just as shocking to see him rising to his feet. Unfortunately for the Thai was in no fit state to continue and the referee, Terry O'Connor, made the correct decision to stop the contest with the Thai wobbling around the ring.
Although he lost Tabtimdaeng did put up a very, very good effort and we'd love to see him put into the OPBF mix with the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Ryo Akaho and Hiroki Shiino, all of whom would make for exciting bouts with the Thai.
As for the winner it's hard to see McDonnell fighting with any of the top Asian's. We'd love to see him fight WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka or WBO champion Tomoki Kameda but it seems much more likely that he'll fight either European or American opponents in his coming defences.