Every so often we enjoy fights that should get serous amounts of attention over the years, but for whatever reason, they seem to end up just being forgotten into the annals of time. The forgotten wars, the under-ground thrillers, the bouts that simply remain under the radar, despite how amazing they were. Today we roll the clock back to 1999 to bring you one such amazing fight from Thailand for the WBA Flyweight title.
Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym (16-0, 13) vs Leo Gamez (32-6-1, 24)
The 25 year old Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym, aka Sornpichai Pisanurachank, was an unbeaten Featherweight hopeful who had shown a lot of promise very early in his career. In just his 8th bout he travelled to Italy and beat the then 12-0 Luigi Castiglione, to claim the lightly regarded WBU title, just weeks later he beat former world title challenger Willy Salazar and began his climb towards a world title fight. That title fight came in 2009 when he clashed with veteran Leo Gamez. By this point the Thai had got a reputation for being exciting and dangerous, with 8 straight stoppages coming into this bout. Despite being dangerous this was still seen as a massive step up in class.
Leo Gamez was a veteran by this point. He had 39 fights to his name, was a 3-weight world champion and had fought all over the globe. He had not only fought at home, in Venezuela, but also had success in South Korea, Japan, Panama and Thailand prior to this fight. He was 36 years old at this point, but still a very capable fighter who had become the WBA Flyweight champion in March 1999 and had taken the WBA "interim" Supder Flyweight title in May, as he plotted his move further up the scales. Gamez was one of the few fighters from the time who had managed to move through the lower weights successfully. Sadly though there was, quite clearly, a feeling that he had cherry picked his way to some of the titles, beating the relatively limited Hugo Rafael Soto for the Flyweight title.
The bout was held in front of a massive outdoor crowd at the Mukdahan Grand Hotel Arena in blistering sun. The conditions looked less than ideal for a great fight, in fact they looked horrific for a fight. Despite that the men provided something special.
After a few moments of the two men feeling each other out, getting behind their jab and seeing what the other had to offer, the bout slowly moved through the gears. By the end of the first round it was clear the Thai challenger was going to be the one applying the pressure and Gamez was going to have to use his skills and speed to neutralise it.
In round 2 Gamez tried to turn the table, taking the fight to Sornpichai to begin with. The Thai wasn't going to stay away for long and began to come forward again before the round was over, and landed a beauty of a body shot that forced a response, with Gamez landing one of his own soon afterwards.
Sornpichai continued to press in round 3 but the wily veteran skills of Gamez saw him soaking it up, until eventually the pressure told and Gamez was sent to the canvas, for the first knockdown of the fight. From there the pace picked up up, the action intensified and Sornpichai hunted a finish. Gamez saw out the storm and as the fight went on he managed to find success of his own, and had Sornpichai looking ready to go at one point.
We won't ruin the bout any further, but this really is a lost classic. Not a Fight of the Year contender for 1999 but a damn good fight, and certainly among the better ones in Asia for the year. A real gem and a dramatic fight with one of the most eye catching finishes you'll see!
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