Whilst we get a lot of great all-Japanese wars we don't tend to see the same in other countries, and fantastic all-Korea, all-Filipino and all-Thai bouts are surprisingly rather rare. This is, genuinely quite disappointing, but easily explained, with top talent in those countries rarely facing off. It's not unheard of, but it is rare. Today we look at one of those rarities are we bring you an amazing all-Thai bout from 2008, pitting two world class Thai's against each other in a world title eliminator, that delivered in amazing fashion.
Somsak Sithchatchawal (56-2-1, 43) vs Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (32-1, 22)
We suspect many fans who follow the lower weights will be familiar with both Samsak Sithchatchawak and Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, as they were really notable during their careers. Somsak is best known for his incredible, 2006 bout with Mayhar Monshipour, which saw him win the WBA Super Bantamweight title, whilst Poonsawat was the guy who had to cancel a bout with Guillermo Rigondeaux due to an irregularity in his blood test. In 2008 the two men clashed.
Before we talk about the clash lets talk about the fighters in a little more detail.
Somsak, as mentioned, fought in "that bout" with Monshipour. Sadly his reign with the WBA Super Bantamweight title was short lived and he was stopped by Celestino Caballero in his first defense. Despite the short reign he had rebuilt his reputation with 10 straight wins to climb towards another world title fight. By 2008 he was highly ranked again and had earned his place in a world title eliminator. In the opposite corner would been Poonsawat. In the ring Somsak was a tough, talented, skilled southpaw, who proved he could battle off the ropes against Monshipour and was able ti box in the middle of the ring. He wasn't a pure brawl, but could brawl when he needed to. Whilst he had under-rated skills his big strength was his power, and at Supe Bantamweight he hit hard enough to get get opponents respect, and worked at a high enough pace to grind opponents down.
Somsak was the only one of these tow to be proven world class. Poonsawat had been the WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion in 2005 and 2006, he won that title with a brilliant win against Ricardo Cordoba and defended it once, against Leo Gamez, before losing to Volodymyr Sydorenko in a bout for the main title. He was an aggressive but technically sound fighter and despite not being a pure KO puncher was a fighter with very solid power . Whilst many will remember him for the fact the Rigondeaux fell apart, he had actually been a very solid fighter before that incident. In fact before the issues with the Rigondeaux bout, in 2012, he had actually gone all the way to winning a Super Bantamweight title and would have been one of the best opponents on Rigondeaux's record had they fought.
From the opening bell it was Poonsawat coming forward, pressing and attacking. Somsak was looking to soak up the pressure, as he had against Monshipour. Despite being the aggressor Poonsawat was smart with his aggression. He was looking to apply a lot of pressure with is footwork, and fire off combinations with both hands when Somsak was there to hit. He wasn't recklessly coming in, but was fighting smart.
The pressure from Poonsawat ramped up in round 2 as we began to get more of a war. Somsak again soaked it up, but took more punishment than he had in the opening round as Poonsawat's clean power shots rocked him and drew screams from the fans. Somsak responded by firing back and we were already getting something very special. Somsak's shots back at Poonsawat weren't always the best but he was looking to counter his countryman. In just 2 rounds we were already getting a bout that was stating to resemble Somsak's bout with Monshipour.
The pace did drop slightly to begin round 3, but it didn't slow for long and the action grew in intensity as the round went on.
We'll leave this here, so as to not spoil what happens, but the bout is well and truly worth a watch. Round by round the two men were knocking lumps out of each other in a truly spectacular all-Thai bout. This was very much fit to be a world title eliminator. It was intense, exciting, power shots being thrown regularly from both and was a perfect clash of styles. It may not have been as good as Somsak's war with Monshipour, but it's still a brilliant bout on it's own merit.
One of the great things about boxing today is the ease of access to international content, with streams and feeds, both legal and illegal, available from all around the globe. Whilst we, as fans, have become more critical about match making we have to see the access to global fights as being something to celebrate from this current era of boxing. Watching fights from around hasn't always been easy and today's Closet Classic looks at a bout that few would have seen live, but has since become a must watch bout for all fans of the sport. It's become one of the great examples of styles making fights and also helped us all learn the two of the tricky to spell names of recent years.
Somsak Sithchatchawal (45-1-1-1, 35) Vs Mahyar Monshipour (28-2-2, 19)
In 2006 streaming of boxing from around the globe was just starting to take off, at least for the hardcore and nerdy. It wasn't as easily accessible as it is now, and when Thailand's Somsak Sithchatchawal travelled to France to face French based Iranian warrior Mahyar Monshipour few outside of France would likely have seen it live. Despite that world of mouth saw the contest being widely regarded as the Fight of the Year, and having several Round of the Year contenders. It was a special, special bout.
Entering the contest Monshipour was the WBA Super Bantamweight champion. He had won the belt in 2003, stopping fellow Frenchman Salim Medjkoune in the 12th round and reeled off 5 defenses, all by stoppage. The champion was unbeaten since 1998 and had reeled off 20 straight wins, with 15 of those coming inside the distance. He had earned the "Little Tyson" moniker and stopped the likes of Yoddamrong Sithyodthong and Shigeru Nakazato during his title reign whilst becoming a star in France.
Somsak on the other hand was a total unknown outside of Thailand, with only 3 of his 48 bouts taking place outside of his homeland, with the most notable of those being a win in South Africa against Luyanda Mini back in 1998. Coming into the bout the single most notable result on Somsak's record was his loss, back in 1998 to Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, and there was little to suggest he was going to put up much of a fight against the destructive champion.
With Canal + Sport showing the bout in France and a packed Palais des Sport Marcel Cerdan in Levallois-Perret hosting the bout it seemed almost certain the local favourite was going to continue his fantastic run. Afterall he was the champion and the Thai chap was an unknown challenger. It seemed everyone expected this to be another straight forward assignment for Monshipour. They were in for a rude awakening however with the local hero being wobbled, and dropped in the first round. From there on we ended with a very, very special fight with an insane work rate from both men. It was champion pressing the fight, applying his intense pressure and the Thai being forced to fight with his back on the ropes. Despite being on the back foot Somsak was regularly landing clean counter shots and riding a lot of what was thrown his way.
Although the fighters were little guys, competing at 122lbs, the work rate was simply out of this world with none stop punching from the two guys. As early as round 3 it seemed that pace would catch up to one of the men, or the other, especially given that there was a lot of body shots being landed by both. The question wasn't so much a case of whether the bout would go 12 but who would wilt first from the war that was taking place.
We won't ruin anything else from this amazing fight, but it is well worthy of your time if you've never seen it before. If you have seen it, then you'll know it's worth a rewatch any time. Either way we're so lucky now that a match up like this is widely available and can be watched back with ease and that live streaming has taken off to the point where a bout like this can be watched so much easier than it could at the start of the millennium.
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