The Minimumweight division is without a clear #1 however Thailand's Wanheng Menayothin (43-0, 17) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] strengthened his claim to be the best in the division today as he over-came mandatory challenger Saul Juarez (23-5-1, 12) to retain the WBC title.
The bout was Wanheng's 5th defense of the title and was by far the toughest with the Mexican having the skills to ask questions of any one in the division. Those skills were on show particularly in the early rounds with very little to separate the men during the first 4 rounds. The first two were very quiet with a chess match mentality from both but the bout built to an exciting 4th round with the men engaging in a high skilled war that saw both men prove their offensive capabilities.
After 4 rounds the scorecards read 38-38, 38-38 and 39-38, with the WBC open scoring being in effect. The card were spot on with very, very little to split the men and no real argument if a round had been scored 10-10, like one was on one of the cards.
Wanheng managed to establish a lead in the middle sector of the fight as he neutralise much of Juarez's work with his defense and sharp counter skills. Juarez had his jab countered by straight right hands and much of his other work was blocked with Wanheng establishing himself as the boss in the ring. By round 8 there was no doubting the man in the lead, but the question was “how clearly was he winning?”
On the open scoring the judges had it 78-74, 78-75 and 77-75 for the Thai. Giving him the bout by 4, 3 and 2 points going into the final part of the bout.
Knowing he was behind Juarez tried to turn the bout around but Wanheng seemed to do enough in rounds 9 and 10 to move further ahead, putting himself out of reach of Juarez on the cards, barring a knockdown. With that lead stretched the Thai then cruised through the final 2 rounds, doing little more than he had to whilst Juarez looked to turn it on and take the fight to the champion, in what proved to be a futile effort.
With the result all but known going to the final bell Juarez seemed happy that he'd done enough against a genuine top contender, whilst Juarez seemed to know that defeat was heading his way, as was confirmed when the cards were read out loud confirming that Wanheng had indeed retained his title.
On paper the bout will be close, with cards ranging from 115-113 to 116-112, but in reality Wanheng eased off giving the final 2 rounds away and could have really made that wider if he'd wished. That has lead to criticism of the open scoring, which didn't really help this bout, but the right man won and it was a genuinely engaging bout for the most part, with rounds 4, 5 and 8 being particularly good rounds. The fight saw both show off good defense early on, it saw Wanheng show off his offensive capability through the middle and saw Juarez go all out late in the contest.
Sadly with the division lacking in terms of depth right now we're not expecting to see Wanheng in with anyone too tasty next time out, though we wouldn't be shocked to see him in the ring again before the year is over as he continues one of the sports active longest unbeaten runs.
World Title Results