In the 00's Thailand had a number of very notable fighters, though perhaps the most over-looked of those was Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (48-2, 33), who fought from 2001 to 2012, when he career was ended following irregularities regarding a blood test. Originally it was reported that he had tested positive for HIV, though though it was later found that he was suffering from thalassemia, a blood disorder. That blood issue cost him a planned fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux, in what would have been a great fight.
Whilst we did miss out on Poonsawat Vs Rigondeaux, we did still get a very solid career from the Thai. With that in mind lets take a look at the 5 most significant wins for... Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.
Ricardo Cordoba (August 31st 2005)
After winning his first 22 bouts Poonsawat had his first real step up, taking on the then 25-0 Ricardo Cordoba for the "interim" WBA Bantamweight title. Up to this point Poonsawat had had things pretty much all his own way, against lower level regional opponents and had really never been tested. He had never had to prove himself, he had never been forced to dig deep and had never really had to show what he could do. Against Cordoba we saw Poonsawat being tested, being pushed all the way in a thrilling 12 round that saw both men answering questions that they had never previously been asked. The bout not only showed that Poonsawat could fighter at a higher level, but could take just a good as he could give in what was a brilliant performance.
Leo Gamez (December 22nd 2005)
Having won the "interim" WBA Bantamweight title against Cordoba it was then a case of seeing how Poonsawat would fight with a title around his waist. His first defense came just 4 months later when he took on multi-weight world champion Leo Gamez. Whilst Gamez was never really regarded as a divisional #1 he had managed to win world titles from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight, the first fighter in history to achieve that feet. He was looking to add some form of a Bantamweight title to his collection. Cordoba would easily outbox the Venezuelan veteran, taking a wide decision over Gamez in what was a solid performance. This would turn out to be Gamez's final career bout, and the first time Poonsawat would defeat a former world champion.
Somsak Sitchatchawal (March 31st 2008)
Having lost the "interim" WBA Bantamweight title in 2006 to Volodymyr Sydorenko, in a competitive fight in Germany, Poonsawat would then move up in weight, to Super Bantamweight. After a string of lower level bouts to help accommodate to the new weight, Poonsawat would then take on former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Somsak Sithchatchawal in a world title eliminator. The bout, like the Cordoba one, was a brilliant war between two men who each stepped up to the occasion. Somsak put on a fantastic showing but was broken down by the clean, hard punches of Poonsawat. In round 11 Poonsawat dropped Somsak and the referee waved off the bout with Somsak on the canvas. This set up Poonsawat for a world title fight at Super Bantamweight, giving him a chance to become a real world champion.
Bernard Dunne (September 6th 2009)
In his 40th professional bout Poonsawat travelled to Dublin, Ireland, to take on WBA Super Bantamweight champion Bernard Dunne, looking to turn the "interim" WBA Super Bantamweight title into the real thing. The then 29 year old Dunne was 28-1 (15) at this point, and had impressed just 6 months earlier in an amazing win over Ricardo Cordoba for the world title. Dunne was a huge star in Ireland at the time, the O2 in Dublin was expected to become his home for the years to come and he was going to be the face of Irish boxing. Poonsawat had other things in mind and went on to stop Dunne in the third round to claim the title in what was his first win on international soil. The win not only showed what Poonsawat could do to a wider audience, but also saw him, finally, winning a proper world title, to go with the two "interim" titles he had won. This loss would, sadly for Dunne, send him into retirement, and we wouldn't see him fight again after this bout. It was not only a significant bout for Poonsawat, but it also, sadly, ended the revival of boxing in Ireland.
Satoshi Hosono (January 11th 2010)
Having won the WBA Super Bantamweight title on the road, in Ireland, Poonsawat got his passport out again for his first defense as he travelled to Tokyo and took on Satoshi Hosono. The then 16-0 Hosono was seen as a future champion from Japan and was dropping down in weight to take on Poonsawat here in what proved to be another brilliant bout. The fight was competitive through out, violently exciting and saw both men landing some massive shots through out. Despite Hosono proving himself to be a tough and heavy handed fighter he was unable to match the skills and variation of Poonsawat, who took the majority decision to retain his title. This would be Poonsawat's first defense, and sadly he would only make one more before losing the belt when he returned to Japan and came up short against Ryol Li Lee.
We return this week with another "Fight we wish we had" and the great thing about this series is that we can think of some really intriguing match ups that, for whatever reason, never seemed to get much demand. That's a shame as there really is so many amazing match ups that we could have had. Today we have one such bout, and it's a bout that really is a mouth watering match up at Super Bantamweight.
Toshiaki Nishioka Vs Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
Around 2010, we'll be more specific in a few moments, the Super Bantamweight scene was one that had a lot of very good Asian fighters in it. These included the then WBC champion Toshiaki Nishioka, the then WBA champion Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, as well as the likes of Ryol Li Lee, Masaki Serie, Somsak Sithchatchawal and Rey Bautista. Whilst some of the top Asian's did clash we didn't see much conversation regarding a unification bout between the two top Asian fighters of the era.
As mentioned this bout would be perfect around 2010. Nishioka had won the interim WBC title in 2008, and was quickly upgraded to the regular champion by the start of 2009 whilst Poonsawat won the WBA title in September 2009. Poonsawat's reign did end in 2010, when he was upset by Ryol Li Lee, but even after he lost the belt this would still have been an attractive bout until 2011, when Nishioka focused on fighting the American stage.
Toshiaki Nishioka was an excellent Japanese boxer-puncher. He was a sharp punching, technically sound southpaw who had first tried to make a mark at Bantamweight, but come up short in 4 world title bouts at the weight, all against Veeraphol Sahaprom with whom he had 2 draws and two losses against. In 2004 he moved up in weight, and proved himself before winning the WBC Super Bantamweight title. Unlike most Japanese fighters he actively chased big fights around the globe and scored a huge win against Jhonny Gonzalez in Mexico in 2009 and then went in to beat Rafael Marquez in 2011. That should have been the end but instead he returned for a one off bout in 2012 against Nonito Donaire.
Poonsawat on the other hand was a heavier handed boxer-puncher, and unlike Nishioka, who was about speed and drawing mistakes to strike on, was more of an aggressive fighter. He would bring pressure on a regular basis and had solid power in his hands, as we saw in his brilliant win over Bernard Dunne. One area where he succseeded, where Nishioka failed, was at Bantamweight. Poonsawat had won the WBA "interim" title at Bantamweight, with a hard fought win over Ricardo Cordoba, and had defended it against Leo Gamez before moving up in weight following a loss in Germany to Volodymyr Sydorenko. One area where Poonsawat and Nishioka were similar was their willingness to travel. Poonsawat had won his WBA Super Bantamweight title in Ireland and travelled to Japan for his first defense, against Satoshi Hosono.
How would we see it playing out?
We'll be honest, we love both these guys and find both to be compelling fighters. We love their styles, despite the fact the two men were very different. With that said we could see either man winning, because of the way they matched up.
Nishioka would bee the favourite, in our eyes, but only just. We suspect his speed, movement and southpaw stance would be real problems for Poonsawat. The movement of Ryol Li Lee showed that good footwork and movement was something that could bother Poonsawat, and Nishioka knew his way around the ring. He was smart and could counter well.
On the other hand Poonsawat could amp up the pressure, he was physically very strong, and when he hurt opponents he let shots go. He could change the tempo of the bout at will and had the sort of power that could cause real issues, despite not being a 1-punch KO artist.
We would expect Nishioka's foot work and defensively smart boxing brain to be the difference between the two men in a very close bout. We would expect that to neutralise the aggression of Poonsawat at times, but it wouldn't be easy, it wouldn't be straight forward and Poonsawat would certainly have his share of moments.
We'd suspect this would be a very exciting, hotly contested bout, a very close one on the cards, with Nishioka taking the early lead before Poonsawat began to claw it back. After 12 rounds we'd expect Nishioka to take a close decision and further enhance his reputation as one of the best Super Bantamweight's of his time.
Would history of been changed?
Had the bout taken place when both men were champions we would have seen a unified champion and that would have been great. The reality is that had we seen these two clash we wouldn't have seen Poonsawat facing off with Ryol Li Lee, so the reigns of Lee, Shimoda and Rico Ramos would likely have been scratched from the record books.
What would be more likely is that the unified champion would have been offered a big money fight. This would likely have seen the winner following something similar to what we saw Nishioka do, a bout with Rafael Marquez, Nonito Donaire or eve Guillermo Rigondeaux, who Poonsawat had signed to fight several years later.
It's rare to see unification bouts and this one would have been genuinely fantastic. A real shame it didn't get much demand, and didn't end up happening when it would have been a brilliant highlight for Asian boxing, and the Super Bantamweight division.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces