On Wednesday boxing fans got the chance to see an exhilarating IBF Minimumweight title bout between defending champion Katsunari Takayama (29-7-0-1, 11) and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-4-1, 15). The bout started slowly though quickly became a war with Fahlan countering off the ropes and Takayama bringing a lpot of relentless pressure. For those who haven't seen the bout it can be seen in full, or near full, below.
Whilst the bout was brilliant it has, according to our Thai friends, left a sour taste in their mouth regarding the ending which seemed confusing to fans, the fighters and the teams for both men.
The bout was stopped in round 9 due to serious swelling and cuts on the face of Takayama. At the time of the stoppage it seemed we had a giant upset on our hands with the result looking like a TKO win for Sakkreerin.
Looking at the reaction of both fighters, and their teams, it seemed they both thought the result was in favour of Takayama who had been on the receiving end of a lot of punches but had been brave through out. The reactions of both men suggested the title was set to change hands. Sakkreerin's celebrations were genuine and the look of pure dejection on Takayama's face was equally honest.
Then came the controversy.
What seemed like a TKO win (see 27:12 in the video) was followed by several moments of waiting. Takayama almost in tears, hitting the ropes and looking like a man who had just lost everything. Fahlan was hoisted on the shoulders of his team with jubilation running all over the faces of the Thai's. Whilst all that is going on the referee goes and collects the three scorecards (which can be seen around 27:50) however that looks like a formality. Next we seem to see Takayama looking a lot less depressed (27:57), even seeing a smile a few seconds later.
In less than a minute Takayama had gone from someone who had looked close to tears to then looking like someone who had been told a very interesting secret, something that no one else seemed to know. On the inverse of that we see Fahlan's expression change suddenly (around 28:16) it seems he's just found out that he's not won the bout by TKO, instead they were going to the cards. The sudden change in expression by both Fahlan and the Kiatkreerin team member who was embracing tells the story going on in their mind. A few seconds later (29:30) Fahlan's face seems to tell the whole story of his emotions "I've been screwed".
As the cards were read it was clear Takayama was going to retain his title, though interestingly the scores were hugely different despite all being to Takayama. The Japanese judge Takeshi Shimakawa, had it 90-81 to Takayama, the Thai judge, Cherdchaichanon Sricharat, had it 86-85 to Takayama whilst Korean judge Kyoung Ha Shin had it 87-84 to Takayama
Whilst the fighters embraced that seemed to show their respect for each other and it still looked as if neither truly agreed with the result.
What our Thai friends have told us is that they are proud of Fahlan's efforts and that there is hope that Fahlan could get a rematch due to the peculiar ending of the bout and confusion that it entailed. It seems that somebody was made aware that the cut was caused by a headbutt, but it wasn't made clear by the referee to either team nor the fans or even the Thai commentary, who seemed as shocked as everyone else.
Whilst it's perhaps unfair to blame the referee, Katsuhiko Nakamura, it does seem that he should have made the official ruling much clearer regarding how the cut was caused. Though of course you can all decide for yourselves if you watch the video below.
(Video courtesy of Kom Thairec on youtube, image above, of the scorecards courtesy of Thairec.com, a larger version can be seen by clicking on the image)
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