We really don't get many all-Thai closet classics, mostly because Thai fighters, at least top ones, don't face each other. Thai's tend to make for good fights with Japanese, Mexican and Filipino foes, but rarely fellow Thai's. Today however we bring you one of the best all-Thai world title fight in recent years in our latest Closet Classic, and it really is a sensational fight.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (76-3-1, 39) vs Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (14-3-1, 4)
In March 2010 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam became a 2-time WBC Flyweight world champion, thanks to an upset win in Japan over Koki Kameda. In July he had blown away Rey Megrino in a none-title bout, in what as Pongsaklek's 80th professional bout, before having his first defense of his second reign. By now he was 33, he had been a professional since 1994 and was a fighter with hundreds of rounds behind him. He wasn't close to his prime, but the win over Kameda showed there was a lot of life in the legs of the legendary southpaw.
Suriyan on the other hand was a relative unknown. He was 21 at the time of this bout and although he was on a 6 fight winning streak none of those wins had come against anyone of any note and he had done absolutely nothing to get a world title fight, but stepped up to the plate and proved in the bout that he was world class. As we all know Suriyan would later go on to become a world champion at Super Flyweight and a stand out contender at Bantamweight, giving the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka absolute fits later in his career. This was, in many ways, his chance to make a name for himself, and that's exactly what he did.
To begin with Pongsaklek took center ring, looking to use his experience against the younger, less knowledgeable fighter. Despite being on the outside Suriyan used his speed, his movement and his energy to box excellently. The champion continued to press in the early stages, but struggled to land clean as Suriyan moved excellently, slipped, slid and and looked incredibly mature for a fighter taking such a huge step up in class.
As the bout went on Pongsaklek managed to find his range and get some success, building some momentum against his fleet footed and sharp punching foe. The success was there for the champion, but it was relatively limited as Suriyan continued to show case skills that weren't expected from him. As we went into the middle both men began to let their hands go more, standing in center ring. This wasn't a war, yet, but was incredible, high tempo, smart boxing from both. Both looked to gain the advantage, both looked for openings, and both tried to make things happen by finding their distance. It was Pongsaklek who began to land the more eye catching blows, particularly good short shots when Suriyan came inside and good body shots.
Although much of the contest had been boxing, the later rounds took a turn, with Suriyan applying more pressure and round 10 was just a high skilled, inside war, with brutal shots from both.This was what we had built to, and this was a perfect way for both men to show who was the better man. Seriously the bout turned from great boxing to a great war and this was an instant closet classic!
Treat yourself to a rare, thrilling all Thai war here!
Thai legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (91-5-2, 47) dominated the WBC Flyweight picture through the 00's, and had this list been for that decade he would have been in the running for one of the top places. Sadly in the 00's the Thai great was a faded force, though still managed to roll back the clock for some great performances. He may have ended up going on too long, but he certainly did more to enhance his standing in his 30's than to damage it.
During the decade Wonjongkam fought 20 times and went 17-2-1 (9), a less than perfect record but a record that included notable wins over Koki Kameda, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Takuya Kogawa and Edgar Sosa.
Wonjongkam's last fight came in 2018, suggesting he fought through much of he decade, but in reality he only fought until the summer of 2013 before making a short comeback in 2018, with a single professional bout and an exhibition in Japan. Notably though his big wins for the decade all came in the first 19 months of it, which is impressive in it's self, but shows just how long in the tooth he was and sadly he didn't have longevity through the decade.
Whilst the lack of longevity is an issue for Wonjongkam's standing in the Fighter of the Decade it's not the biggest issue. That is his losses, which essentially came to journeymen, in the form of Sonny Boy Jaro and Rey Megrino. The loss to Megrino was particularly notable, given Wonjongkam took him out in a round in 2010 but just over 2 years later he was stopped in 3 rounds in a rematch with the Filipino.
The Thai icon needs huge credit for beating the then 22-0 Koki Kameda in Japan, less than 4 months in to the decade and for beating Suriyan, who would later go on to win a world title at Super Flyweight and be a very capable Bantamweight. But those wins can't push him up this list too far.
As with several others who missed out on the top 10 his best work came in the 00's and during his first reign as the WBC Flyweight champion. That first reign saw him holding the title from 2001, when he blasted out Malcolm Tunacao, to 2007, when he lost in his third bout to Daisuke Naito. During that reign he had scored wins over Luis Alberto Lazarte, Daisuke Naito, Gilberto Keb Baas and Tomonobu Shimizu. His second reign was good, but short and not quite good enough to earn him a top 10 position.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features