Over the last few days WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) [วันเฮง มีนะโยธิน] has received more attention internationally than he's likely ever had before. And that attention is likely to continue, in some form or another.
Today he spoke to the Thai media and also had pictures taken of him having a medical examination in Thailand due to several medical issues. The issues alluded to in his "I know my body" and his need to "heal" that was originally part of his retirement announcement.
It appears that his symptoms are affecting his nose, which had been reported on Monday and also revealed that their is some visual damage in his right eye.
The medical, which was described in the Thai press as a "thorough physical examination, taking 2 hours to complete" seemed to be more focused on explaining that he would be medically fit to box, rather than anything else. It confirmed a nasal injury, which is affecting his breathing, and blurriness in his right eye, though he he has now been given medication.
Comments in the Thai press, from promoter Piyarat Wachirarattanawong, have confirmed that Wanheng has been paid through the current global situation, including medical expenses.
With Wanheng turning 35 in October, an age that is ancient for a Minimumweight, and with injuries already affecting his general health, and with doubt on his future things don't seem like they are all good. Whilst there is obviously frustration with the fighter regarding the cancelled bout in the US, which was planned for April, it does feel more and more like a fighter and his team butting heads, when the fighter feels he's had enough. Something is never a good thing in this sport.
Yesterday on social media WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) [วันเฮง มีนะโยธิน] announced he was retiring from boxing, thanks those around him and said that no one knows how body better than he did, and that he was going to heal. A comment that seemed to suggest that time either wear and tear had gotten the better of him, or that he had been injured.
Less than a day later Wanheng has deleted that post from social media, the WBC Asian Boxing Council has stated that Wanheng hasn't retired and the brilliant Komthai have dug into the situation by speaking to Wanheng's management and the fighter himself, so credit to Komthai for the upcoming explanation as to what has happened. (Please note - Quotes are rough translations)
The fighter himself explained:
"Thank you to everyone who is worried that I posted yesterday that I stopped boxing yesterday without consulting the camp leader. I already talked to the doctor to diagnose the symptoms first that Will be ready to fight again? The doctor has checked and I will tell again ... "
Which seems very different to the man who knew his own body best and wanted time to heal, for what appears to have been an injury affecting his breathing with his personal manager telling Komthai:
"Wanheng also said that he practiced with a sore nose and had difficulty breathing, which I had to call to talk about the future. If quit, probably can't stop because it's already grown up. But if you continue to fight, you must treat your nose injury first. "
His trainer is quoted as saying:
"Perhaps because of the emotions it took During the crisis of the virus, covid Wanheng, was still practicing lightly. By jogging Come to practice at the camp (Menayothin) and go back with the family, With some children and wives. He is a fighter with discipline in practice. But when he can't fight The program to prevent America has to be postponed repeatedly and must control its weight. Saw the physical condition of suffering like that Therefore became discouraged Would like to stop punching up, being stubborn is possible. "
"In fact, Wan Heng made a contract to protect America in the fight. Opportunity to build a reputation Keep the world record. The kind that no one else can easily do. It's a shame. If really hanging out as news, I say that he has not consulted adults or anyone else. Just bored Because of the physical condition Wait for the doctor to check in detail again. He will be comfortable. Heng is an anxious person sometimes. Once said to me that Afraid that he might get some cancer.
Sometimes talking to Aunt Nu, close friend of elder Heng, the leader of the faculty Would like to give up boxing It was a feeling of weariness from practicing a lot. Lose a lot of weight for a long time And didn't get more punches Because actually A well-known international boxer that he is 40-42 years old who can still fight is an example, such as Pacquiao or Floyd. He can also boxing. Because of my own size, he has never consulted about this before."
He promoter also left comments with Komthai:
"I explained to Wanheng that I have sent an email inquiry to the United States many times, but Golden Boy Promotion, the organizer responded that The virus situation in America is still severe. The was unable to give an answer at this time that When will boxing be organized"
" I therefore figured out a solution If so, do you want this? I will hold a fight for at least 1 fight at home first, but how can we prevent it? When the government hasn't unlocked Foreign boxer. The committee of foreign judges cannot enter our country at this time. And if coming in, may have to be detained again Chaotic, of course. If CP will be the main sponsor Have to invest up to 4-5 million baht to invest, will he dare to invest? It is known that this hour No one would dare to do that for sure. "
"When it was so, can I still find a solution if I would like Heng to warm up first? But who will punch with ?? Since a foreign boxer might not be able to come And if warming up with a Thai boxer Boxing fans in the social world are probably bullying each other to say that the world record champion like Heng Hoping to create another record by punching with Muay Thai each other .. ?? I don't have to attack myself from boxing fans. "
The big boss of Petchyindee also gave comments:
"It is well known. And we have to accept that During this virus crisis All affect But Petch happy is continuously trying to help the boxers in the network. Boxers like Wan Heng and others. We pay monthly salaries Only we have never released news. That we have to cut out how much meat ourselves. When this critical situation is like I therefore explained to Wan Heng to understand.
Which he admitted that Caused by stress Therefore posted a personal feeling unexpectedly And must appeal to the government to have sympathy for the boxing industry If we receive the exact unlock, I still insist on planning to return Heng's day in September. Give it again Therefore ask Thai brothers and sisters to trust, because Wan Heng is the only champion to break the current world record. Which is difficult for anyone to easily do We are ready to continue to support him to build a reputation for the nation that the world must engrave and remember for a long time. "
So, it appears that Wanheng is frustrated, understandably, about not being able to fight during the current crisis, being injured and being unable to have his planned US debut. It seems likely now that his next bout will end up being at home in Thailand, and not the planned bout in the US, but he needs to wait until restrictions are lifted in Thai.
He's also injured, with what appears to be a nose injury, and will need to wait for that to recover before fighting anyway.
As a result of needing to stay at home the promoter will look to stage a show in Thailand when he can and ask sponsor CP, those of CP Freshmart fame in the west, to pay up ฿4,000,000 to ฿5,000,000 for the show. Typically that isn't a problem, but with CP, like every big business cutting back on spending that may end up being an issue in the short term.
Sadly it does seem like the fighter has had stakeholders essentially convince him to continue, rather than putting his health first. That alone is a rather big worry, though not a surprise in certain parts of the world.
Whether we see Wanheng in the ring again or not is still unclear. Sure they are planning a card with him in Thailand, and they are still wanting the US bout for him. Thai restrictions are planned to end on July 1st, with the first boxing show at the moment planned for July 1st. There is however a 14 day quarantine for international travellers, so boxing judges or foreign fighters who aren't already in Thailand would still need to sit through that.
A promoter is unlikely to want to pay for judges as well as foreign fighters to sit in quarantine so an international level show is not likely in Thailand for some time.
Although we have seen boxing return to the US cases in recent weeks have been increasing and although boxing has returned to the country we have yet to see a world title fight on US soil.
*฿4,000,000 to ฿5,000,000 is around £105,000 to £130,000
Around an hour ago WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) [วันเฮง มีนะโยธิน] took to social media to announce that he was walking away from boxing and would be retiring
The fighter's full statement can be seen below, though for those wanting a translation he essentially thanked his family, stated that he knows his own body, and would like to heal, whilst also thanking everyone who has supported him over his career.
The Thai, who debuted way back in 2007, is 34 years old currently, which is ancient for a Minimumweight however he had been planning to make his US debut before the current global crisis. It was expected that he would still fight in the US, but today's announcement clearly ends talk of that happening.
As a fighter Wanheng is one of the very few in the modern era to essentially fight in just a single weight class. He is a career Minimumweight, having won the WBC Youth title there back in 2007, before claiming the Interim international, and international silver titles on his way through the ranks. He would then go on to win the WBC world title at Minimumweight in 2014, stopping Oswaldo Novoa in 9 rounds to claim the WBC's top title.
As the world champion Wanheng made 12 defenses, beating the likes of Saul Juarez, Melvin Jerusalem, Tatsuya Fukuhara, Pedro Taduran and, most recently, Simpiwe Konkco.
In August 2018 Wanheng recorded his 51st win, beating Pedro Taduran with a 12 round decision, to move to 51-0, breaking Floyd Mayweather's record, and added 3 more wins, two of which came in world title defenses.
Despite numerous talks of Wanheng leaving his homeland for a bout, he ended up never leaving Thai soil for a bout, running up his staggering unbeaten record at home.
Whilst his record isn't littered with the biggest name opponents it's unlikely we'll see anyone world champion reaching 54-0 again. His perfect winning streak is the longest of any retired world champion, and is not something that we expect to see being seriously challenged, with very few fighters even fighting 50 times in this day and age.
Interestingly this decision from Wanheng leaves the WBC Minimumweight title vacant. Fighters like Melvin Jerusalem, Daniel Valladares, Ginjiro Shigeoka and Marco John Rementizo, who was supposed to face Wanheng this past April, will all be actively chasing the title when boxing resumes fully later this year.
[FOR AN UPDATE ON THIS STORY PLEASE SEE Wanheng Menayothin "cancels" retirement]
Yesterday it was reported in Thailand that two leading Thai promoters would be benefiting from the WBC's Covid-19 relief fund.
From what is being reported Petchyindee and Nakhon Luang will both receive funds to help them through the current situation and help develop new world champions in Thailand.
From what under-stand their will also be a push to help with the WBC Muay Thai, with with a presentation ceremony taking place later this month to help strengthen the relation between the WBC, and Thai combat sport.
The amounts for the two promoters haven't been disclosed in the Thai press but what does seem clear is that they are desperate for some funding given that Thailand hasn't been able to hold shows for months and several planned cards have had to be cancelled. Given that the Thai boxing scene really depends on sponsorship and TV exposure, both of those will have dried up with the lack of recent action.
Fingers crossed that boxing in Thailand will bounce back quickly in the near future, as there was big plans and big bouts pencilled in before the current global situation cancelled things like US debut of WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม], who was supposed to face Filipino foe Marco John Rementizo (12-3, 9) in April.
Earlier today news broke from Thailand regarding the potential next world title defense of WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม].
The long reigning, and very long term unbeaten world champion, will be defending his title on April 25th, in what will be his 13th defense of the title. His opponent for the bout has been revealed as being Filipino foe Marco John Rementizo (12-3, 9).
The most interesting part of the story isn't the who and when, but the where, with the news also reporting that this bout will be taking place in the US, making it the US debut of the unbeaten world champion. However no venue, or even state, has been reported in the Thai press.
The unbeaten champion, the longest reigning male world champion in the sport, has been the WBC king at 105lbs since November 2014, when he won the title from Oswaldo Novoa. Whilst his reign has been long it's also not been the best, with his most notable wins coming against the likes of Saul Juarez, Tatsuya Fukuhara and Simpiwe Konkco.
Sadly Rementizo is very much in line with Wanheng's typical young Filipino Challengers. The 20 year old Southpaw has lost in the opening round, being blown out by Samuel Salva and MJ Bo, and has alos lost a decision to Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, in what was actually a really well contested and close bout.
According to the news sources the bout is set to be announced in the new future.
(Image courtesy of Komthai)
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