"Boxing is dead", screams the horrified fan who believes the sport they follow is about to have the death knell rung up on it for the 10 count. "The fighters don't fight each other any more" screams another fan, whilst a third chimes in with "all they do is hold and run like a combined event involving wresting and track running".
If you use any forum, any social media or almost any place where boxing fans can join each other to share an opinion you would assume that the fight game is on it's last legs. You would, if you listened to those supposed fans, believe that by 2016 there will be no professional boxing, fan numbers will have bottomed out to the point where running shows is no longer profitable, where TV figures will have dissipated to the point of extinction and where a fight fan will only be tuning in to see either MMA or professional wrestling in the hopes of getting their kicks from a boxing substitute.
Those fans are misguided and often less fans of the sport and more interested in hypothetical matches rather than what fights we actually get. They are, in many ways, ignorant of the sport at large and sadly stuck within the confines of fights shown on HBO and Showtime. We know the biggest names in the sport fight on those networks, we know that those networks cover Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Gennady Golovkin, Saul Canelo Alvarez, Amir Khan and other big names. They cover the "big fights" and spend the lavish sums of money on advertising and purses so large that they sums dwarf what an average person can make in decade. We know they are the "big boys" of entertainment. But we also know that the big fights aren't often the best, we know that the fans complaining about the lack of great fights sadly aren't aware of them and most importantly they aren't being given a chance to see what they want to see because the networks are too busy pushing their agenda's for a quick buck rather than giving people what they want with a longer term pay-off.
And of course it's not just been those two bouts either. We've had things like the vicious war between Koki Eto and Ardin Diale, a bout so intense that the winner was rendered unconscious just moments after the fight from over-joyous celebration, the back-and-forth Minimumweight unification bout between Katsunari Takayama and Francisco Rodriguez Jr that could well have put the often over-looked Minimumweight division on to the radar of numerous fans it and the bloody and brave bout between Takuya Watanabe and Jaesung Lee that saw the winner look like he had come straight from a slasher film.
We know that not everyone will have seen these fights but at the end of the day no body gets the chance to watch every fight. However if you're one of the people who believes that boxing is dying we hope you will actually take a bit of time to see just how alive it really is beneath the surface. The sport isn't dying at all. It may not be on the verge of a true global golden age but it's still as strong as it usually is with great fights taking place almost weekly somewhere on the planet.
Also, before we finish, we would like to give a massive thank you to the channels showing some of these bouts, channels like Canal 4 Nicaragua, Channel 11 Thailand, Fuji TV, Channel 7 Thailand and BeIN Sports Espanol. We would also like to thank those fans who have recorded bouts from ringside and Channel Gushiken. These are all the people who are helping to show off the great fights that many seem to think have become an endangered species. HBO and Showtime may boast the biggest pockets buyt they certainly don't boast the best fights.
Over the last few years Thailand hasn't produced many world class fighters. They have, of course, had the odd star like Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Tepparith Kokietgym and most recently Amnat Ruenroeng but on the whole they haven't been producing top class fighters like they have done in the past. If I'm being honest I'm disappointed not only in the fact that they have just 1 world champion right now but also in the fact a number of their contenders, like Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat, Pungluang Sor Singyu and Denkaosan Kaovichit have all suffered stoppage losses in recent bouts.
Of course Thailand has a number of promising contenders, the ones that are, or have been, on the fringes of a world title fight for a while. Those guys, like Rusalee Samor for example or Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, aren't the focus of those piece, instead I want to bring to your attention some of Thailand's most promising youngsters and those who are just beginning to break onto the scene. For that reason I'm only going to mention guys with 10 or fewer fights, according to boxrec.com.
Nop Kratingdaenggym (10-0, 1)
It's not often that a complete non-puncher will get rave reviews but 22 year old Nop Kratingdaenggym is certainly a fighter who has had a growing reputation as one of the Super Bantamweight prospects with real potential courtesy of his excellent boxing ability.
It's that boxing ability that really makes Nop standout compared to many of his compatriots. He's not power hungry but instead he will fight off his jab, move intelligently, land crisp combinations and control the distance cleverly. At the moment he still lacks his man strength but already has 4 complete 12 rounders under his belt and is the proud owner of the PABA Super Bantamweight title.
At the moment Nop is a million miles from a world title bout but with Kratingdaeng backing him and his obvious talent I'd be very shocked if he doesn't become a genuine contender at 122lbs. He has the tools to be very good if given time to develop and I think he has something a little bit special about him. It's obvious though that his team know he needs development and that's why he's been matched with the likes of Hendrik Barongsay and Daniel Ferreras, tough opponents but not ones good enough to beat a real star prospect.
Footage of Nop isn't very widely available though we do have full footage of his bout with Jovill Marayan, although it is only a 6 rounder, and his bout with Skak Max, though see the note below about that.
*Note Nop's record on boxrec is, at the time of writing, 9-0 (1), I know that's wrong as it ignores his title winning contest against Skak Max.
Palangpol CP Freshmart (4-0, 4)
Whilst Nop Kratingdaenggym might be a relative "non puncher" the same cannot be said for the lead handed Light Flyweight Palangpol CP Freshmart who appears to lack some of boxing ability of Nop but makes up for the lack of skills with really vicious power. That power has seen him not only remain unbeaten but also score a number of interesting wins, already.
The most interesting of those wins have come over Jack Amisa (KO7) and Heri Amol (TKO8), neither opponent is typically faced in a fighters first few bouts suggesting that Palangpol is really expected to go a long way, likely due to his history in Muay Thai. Most recently he added a win over Joan Imperial, another foe that isn't usually faced this early in a fighters career.
There was talk, at one point, about Palangpol being moved towards an IBF world title fight. I think that talk is too early at the moment but it's likely that if he keeps stopping usually tough and durable opponents then he will have to be moved towards a title fight, just to get him in with someone capable of surviving against him.
Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi (4-0, 3)
Another fighter who appears to have have power is Super Flyweight hopeful Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi. Eaktawan has been matched relatively impressively for such a novice and has also been able to look impressive. In fact Eaktawan probably should have come to our attention more on his debut when he scored a stunning KO over Chamuakpetch Kor Kamolwat. In that bout he looked very much like a fighter with serious potential, nasty but natural power and pretty solid speed.
To date his biggest win as a professional has come over Jemmy Gobel though it's clear that he's going to be moved up in class significantly in his coming fights. Eaktawan may not have beaten the same level of competition that some other's have beaten but he looks like a fighter with the potential to go a very, very long way. In fact just watching suggests that we have a very promising fighter on our hands.
At Super Flyweight there is certainly some competition at the top but in the mid-to-lower levels there isn't many, if any, that will get Eaktawan's way and we imagine his team know it. However his team will also be aware that he has defensive issues that need working on before rushing him. He does eat a few shots to get his own off and in many ways he resembles the old style South Koreans who walk forward with the mentality of busting up their opponents before being broken themselves. If he can change that mentality slightly and tweak his boxing he really could be a star with his seek-and-destroy style.
Stamp Kiatniwat (9-0, 4)
For many the standout Thai prospect is Stamp Kiatniwat who we are very big fans of. The youngster is still a teenager though looks like one of the most promising and aggressively matched young fighters on the planet. Unlike many Thai fighters he doesn't bring a lot of pressure of power though like Nop he can box and can do so on the front foot or the back foot making him a versatile fighter despite his young age.
Whilst we're very impressed when we watch Stamp we need to say we were blown away by his most recent contest, a 12 round decision over former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng. For a teenager with just 8 previous fights to take on, and beat, a world champion shows what a promising youngster this kid is. And the fact he is still a kid means there is still a lot of physical development left to do which could easily mean that he ends up with more bang on his shots, a scary thought all things considered.
Although still a long way from a world title fight we would not be shocked to see Stamp's name coming into the world rankings in coming months, especially following the win over Kwanthai. Hopefully his team will hold him back just a little for now, though we can understand if his team do get a little over-excited considering how good he is. Whilst he is good now he is potentially great.
For those wanting to see more of Stamp we have footage of his opening round victory over John Bima and his 4th round TKO over Johan Wahyudi which both show there is more than just skills to the promising youngster.
Kongputorn CPFreshmart (3-0, 2)
One of the numerous Muay Thai fighters-turned-boxers is Kongputorn CPFreshmart who appears to have taken to boxing in a serious way having had 3 bouts in the last few months. In each of them he has looked like a man ready to make a real go of boxing and a man set to rise as quickly as he and his handlers deem fit. In fact the experience of Muay Thai is merely an addition to natural power and swift vicious combinations.
To date Kongputorn's boxing has come against very limited foes though the skills are very visible and it's obvious that his team know how good he is, even if he's not been allowed to show it against suitable opponents as of yet.
Currently the WBC Youth Flyweight champion, having beaten Xu Yuan Cai for the title in August, it seems likely Kongputorn will be rising through the WBC rankings over his next few fights. Of course with Flyweight being the deepest division in boxing right now we'd not be shocked to see Kongputorn held back from the elite for a year or two though if he keeps winning he'll be able to decide which of the champions he would like to target down the line. In my eyes that will be the smartest decision from him and his team whilst also getting him as much experience, in terms of rounds, as they can.
Note-As with Nop we know boxrec.com are missing a fight of Konputorn's. That fight is Konputorn's debut against Veeradej Manoprungroj. His only other fight to date saw him defeating Lomnauo Sakberlin in 4 rounds.
Thong Sithluangphophun (9-0, 6)
When we look at Japanese fighters we tend to not the number of rounds they fight on debut. Very, very few start in 8 rounders with Naoya Inoue being the most recent example. In Thailand we don't tend to do that too often but Thong Sithluangphophun did the same as the Japanese "Monster"and began his career in an 8 rounder, taking a decision over Chatpayak Sithkopon Nuengkawkawhok. Since then he has fought in several 6 rounders and a trio of 12 round title fights as he's gone from strength to strength and claimed the PABA Featherweight title.
As he's stepped up the rounds we seem to have seen Thong become more confident in his power and although he went the distance in 3 of his first 5 bouts he has actually stopped his last 4 opponents, including Tony Arema in the first defence of the PABA Featherweight belt and Jason Butar Butar. That's not to say they are huge wins but at the moment they are solid wins for a fighter just starting to make their name.
As with a number of fighters on here he's not anywhere near ready to be moved up to a word title fight though he's certainly showing signs of being able to hold his own against fringe world ranked contenders. We'd not have worries if Thong's team put him in with someone on the fringes though with Featherweight looking like a division heading towards a boom period it could be a while before we see just how good Thong really is.
At the moment footage of Thong is difficult to find unfortunately though we hope to have more in the future.
And one I don't think will make it...
Chalermpol Singwancha (9-0, 7)
For many the most notable fighter will be Welterweight hopeful Chalermpol Singwancha, real name Chaloemporn Sawatsuk. Personally I think he is too flawed to be considered a true prospect although his results suggest he could be promising.
On paper Chalermpol's win over Dan Nazareno Jr, back in April, should have put the boxing world on red alert. Nazareno may not be great but a fighter beating him as early in their career as Chalermpol did was highly impressive. Unfortunately though the Thai did look very tired at the end of the bout and showed that his power may not be as killer as it looked at the time, he entered 6-0 (6). Not only was he taken the distance by Nazareno but also by Amor Tino who also pushed Chalermpol very close.
From having seen him a few times he looks strong and powerful but against opponents who understand the ring he's shown that he is very limited and unlikely to exceed despite some notable expectation being on his shoulders.
Note-I have not included Knockout CP Freshmart (8-0, 5) due to the fact he is getting a WBA interim world title fight in his next fight. If we ignore his upcoming bout with Carlos Buitrago he would certainly have made this list with his skills that really impressed against Sandeep amongst others.
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