Earlier today attention turned to Ukraine to watch WBA Flyweight champion Artem Dalakian (17-0, 12) record his first defense, as he scored an 8th round TKO win over mandatory challenger Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (50-4, 35), in what was a very one sided bout.
The opening round saw the Ukrainian looking much bigger than the challenger, thoiugh he didn't rely in his physicality, instead choosing to box and move. The Thai looked to cut the distance when he could, but he was always too slow and Dalakian caught him on the way in and got out before Yodmongkol had a chance to return fire.
In the first few rounds Dalakian looked more and more in control, with Yodmongkol bringing the pressure but really not doing so in an effective manner. Instead he was essentially trudging towards the champion and being tagged up close. It was progressively more and more one sided, though Dalakian really didn't look like he was looking to finish it too early. Instead the champion wanted to put on a show for the fans, showing his skills, as well as his power and aggression.
The aggression cranked up significantly in round, when the champion dropped the Thai with a brutal uppercut in the opening seconds. The champion really went hunting a finish there and then and unloaded through out the round with a massive and prolonged assault. It was a testament to Yodmongkol's toughness that he saw out the round, but it was thoroughly one sided.
It seemed as if the champion had perhaps punched himself out as he seemed to take round 6 off, and even then the Thai couldn't cut the distance to have any real success of his own. Instead Dalakian took the round off, and still won it, thanks in part to a late flurry. The following round saw Dalakian again showing signs of taking his foot off the gas, but once again the Thai couldn't do anything of any note to make the Azeri-born-Ukrainian pay. Instead the champion unloaded on the bell, likely trying to steal the round, yet managed to drop the Thai for the second time.
Going in to round 8 it seemed like the challenger was there on borrowed time, and it looked like Dalakian had fully recovered from his huge effort in round 5. One again the Thai was dropped, and although he showed a lot of courage to get back to his feet, the referee really could have stopped the bout there and then. Instead the fight was allowed to go on, and a Dalakian follow up forced the referee to stop the bout and save the Thai.
For Dalakian the bout was a perfect home coming defense, and a great way to legitimise his reign whilst Yodmongkol's status as a top contender is clearly over. How he got a mandatory title shot is a bit of a mystery and given his performance here, it's hard to imagine him getting another shot at a world title any time soon.
The Flyweight division is by far the best in boxing right now. The champions are pound-for-pound fighters, the contenders are recognised top class fighters and better yet the best are fighting the best. Time and time again this year the division has given us highlight after highlight. From Koki Eto's brawl with Ardin Diale to the amazing WBC title fight between Roman Gonzalez and Akira Yaegashi we really have been so lucky with the Flyweight division this year.
The final big Flyweight bout of the year came in Thailand this Friday as the WBA regular and interim titles were unified. Going into the bout Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19) was the “regular” champion whilst Thailand's Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-3, 20) was the interim champion. On paper it was a very good match up, stylistically you had a boxer against a pressure fighter and the bout was, unofficially, a bout to decide who was to defend the title against Kazuto Ioka next year.
The opening round showed a difference in speed with Reveco looking a step faster than the Thai. Yodmongkol tried to neutralise the speed with timing and came forward behind a hgh guard looking to land counter punches though all too often he was tagged and unable to respond before Reveco was out of range. All the major punches in the opening round were from the Argentinian.
In the second round we saw a surprise as a counter right hand from Yodmongkol dropped Reveco in the first minute. From then on things were pretty for the rest of the round leaving us with a clear 10-8 in favour of the Thai fighter. Sadly for Yodmongkol that would be his highlight of the fight and it effectively gave away his entire gameplan which appeared to be based on landing counter right hands whilst applying constant, but not intense, pressure.
In round 3 it seemed Reveco was still feeling the effects of the knockdown early though by the end of the round it seemed Reveco had neutralised Yoxmongkol's gameplan and realised that if he didn't over-commit he wasn't going to give Yodmongkol any chance. Sadly for Yodmongkol his gameplan had allowed Reveco to work his way back into the bout. That success of Reveco grew in round 4 as he began to pick up the pace and seemed to realise that Yodmongkol, whilst tough, was a bit limited and that the Thai's pressure could be used against himself. The 4th not only saw Reveco taking control but also proving he could land what he wanted.
In round 5 we saw Reveco taking away the knockdown of Yodmongkol as he scored his own. Unlike the earlier down however this one saw a man hurt and Yodmongkol never got the chance to recover. As soon as he was up Yodmongkol was up he walked over to Reveco who unloaded on him, backing him to the ropes and unloading, shot after shot after shot, the shots just kept coming until the referee eventually waved off the bout saving Yodmongkol who was standing but eating shots and unable to return fire.
For Reveco this should set him up for Ioka in Spring. For Yodmongkol this was disappointing and is likely to see him fade into obscurity, a shame considering how good he looked when he beat Koki Eto, however it is karmic in some ways considering he did rob Takuya Kogawa earlier this year.
(Image courtesy of Thairec.com)
One of the things that is, unfortunately, universal in boxing are bad decisions. We often see these in high profile fights in the UK, US and Germany who all have a reputation for such things. Sadly however they do happen around the world and today we saw the latest addition to the ever growing list of questionable decisions as Japan's Takuya Kogawa (22-4, 13), pictures, was controversially denied the WBA interim Flyweight title.
Kogawa travelled to Thailand, a country that has been less than friendly to championship level Japanese fighters in the past, and gave his all in a thoroughly compelling contest with Thailand's very own Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-2, 20). It was an effort that should have seen Kogawa claim the belt but some how the judges denied him.
The Japanese challenger started fast. He used his natural hand speed and movement to simply out work Yodmongkol who plodded along with his guard up and. Whilst much of Kogawa's work was blocked enough had gotten through for him to win the round with out much debate. The same also applied in round 2, even though Yodmongkol did manage to find himself landing more than he had in the opening round.
Following the great start of the champion things had began to get interesting and Kogawa was being caught more frequently with some classy punches from Yodmongkol. Whilst the champion was beginning to land the better punches it again seemed to be the work rate of Kogawa that left the lasting impression and not the occasional, albeit heavier, shots of the Thai. It seemed that every time Yodmongkol would land something Kogawa would fire back in a short little flurry of punches that continued to catch the eye.
Through the middle rounds the fight began to change slightly. For the first 4 rounds it was all about Kogawa's high out put against Yodmongkol's heavier though less frequent shots. Kogawa was boxing on the move, creating space with his feet and firing off combinations whilst Yodmongkol applied constant though somewhat ineffective pressure. In round 5 though that pressure began to get him closer to the challenger and the crowd began to encourage their man.
Although behind at the mid way point Yodmongkol seemed a lot fresher than the challenger and in round 7 he began to force his fight on Kogawa. This saw the two men enjoying several exchanges as the fight began to represent more of a toe-to-toe battle than anything else. It was clear that this was what Yodmongkol was going to prefer and what was going to really help him if he was to turn the fight around. Surprisingly however Kogawa's hand speed kept him very much in these exchanges and on numerous occasions he was the one forcing Yodmongkol on to the back foot.
It was clear the pace had increased in round 7 and that Yodmongkol knew he his title was slipping away if things had remained as they were in the first 6 rounds. The Thai continued to up the pace in round 8 and it finally seemed that he was beginning to get the upper hand in the exchanges with the commentators becoming hugely excited at one point with Kogawa forced to take shots. Amazingly though Kogawa recovered and seemed to be on the front foot by the end of the round.
Round 7 and 8 had been great though things were just getting better and in round 9 the pace increased again. This round saw Yodmongkol landing 3 flush shots one after the other and it seemed Kogawa was in trouble for a moment though the Japanese fighter recovered swiftly and fired back in an attempt to say “I've still got more fight in me”. It was a brave effort from Kogawa though one that was probably futile in attempting to win the round even though he did more than just see it out.
Kogawa's work rate was always going to catch up with him eventually and that seemed to happen in round 10 as Yodmongkol came on really strong and Kogawa began to look weary. The sharp combinations from earlier in the fight were starting to look ragged, the footwork was becoming sloppy and the shots that Yodmongkol was landing seemed to hurt Kogawa for the first time. It was a clear Yodmongkol round and it seemed like the beginning of the end for Kogawa who looked like he was on his last legs.
The success of the champion in round 10 was repeated again in round 11 as the Thai continued to come on strong. It was obvious by now that Yodmongkol thought his title was slipping away and that he might even need a stoppage to retain the title. A Japanese fighter's spirit however is hard to break and the round finished with both guys trading shots to the bell as Kogawa summoned up some energy from somewhere.
We have no idea how Kogawa had the gas to finish round 11 so well but he found extra reserves in an amazing round 12. From the opening bell to the final bell Kogawa threw relentlessly his combinations just rained down on Yodmongkol who seemed to have his guard pinned up as a result of the relentless, albeit inaccurate, maelstrom of punches coming from the challenger. For the previous 2 rounds Kogawa had looked spent, like he was running on fumes but in round 12 he looked like the energizer bunny. Yodmongkol did attempt to fire back occasionally and landed some solid shots of his own though they were infrequent and seemed to cause Kogawa to bite down on his gum shield and just unload more shots. It was crazy from the Japanese fighter who was showing his will to win was still there as he went all in.
By the time the final bell came Kogawa must have thrown well in excess of 100 punches in the final round.
Sadly when you fight on foreign soil against the champion you sometimes need a KO for the draw and that seemed to be the case here with Yodmongkol receiving a majority decision win with scores of 114-114, 115-114, 116-113. For purposes of interest, we had it 116-112 Kogawa.
The Japanese fighter had every right to be aggrieved though he seemed too exhausted to even think about complaining. He had put everything in to the fight only to have the judges deny him of a belt he had rightfully deserved. As for Yodmongkol he showed his class and seemed to look like a man who was relieved more than happy. There was little celebration from the champion who went through the formalities and probably thanked his lucky stars for a very debatable and controversial decision.
We know we thought Yodmongkol would retain and we knew the fight would be exciting but we didn't think that Yodmongkol would be so lucky or that the fight would be THIS good. If you missed it, you missed a thriller.
(Picture courtesy of Miyata Gym)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.