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