When we discuss the greatest combat sport practitioners of all time one Thai who deserves a mention is the legendary Samart Payakaroon (21-2, 12). His boxing career was his secondary in ring career, after having been one of the great Muay Thai fighters of all time. His success in Muay Thai saw him being described by some as the greatest ever Muay Thai fighter, and even those who don’t rate him at #1 all have him in the chasing pack. He was a multi-time Lumpinee Stadium champion and a true legend in Muay Thai.
He was also a very impressive boxer, though his career only lasted 23 bouts in total, spanning from 1982 to 1994. It was also a career that had several breaks in it as other activities, including singing and acting, which saw him avoid in-ring competition. Despite having a stop-start professional boxing career he fit a lot into to his 23 fights, beat several notable names, won a world title and further enhanced his reputation as a combat sport king. His boxing success didn’t match up to his Muay Thai success, but he was still a top fighter in the 1980’s. With that in mind we want to bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Samart Payakaroon!
1 - Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh (August 24th 1982)
Following his very, very successful Muay Thai career Samart kicked off his professional boxing and made his debut in the second half of 1984. His opponent for his debut was fellow Thai Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, himself a former WBC Light Flyweight champion. For a fighter to debut against a former world champion is impressive, but Samart did exactly that, and did so in a 10 rounder, something that is almost unheard in recent years.
The bout saw the 19 year old Samart take a 10 round decision win over the then 23 Netrnoi, who had attempted to reclaim the WBC Light Flyweight title less than a year earlier, when he lost in 10 rounds to the brilliant Hilario Zapata. The win was a real statement from Samart, who announced himself to the professional boxing ranks and answered a number of questions immediately, such as proving his stamina and how he would deal with a fellow southpaw. This was also the first time Netrnoi had lost to a Thai in since his 10th professional bout, when he stopped at Flyweight by Fahsithong Fairtex. Sadly this would also be Netrnoi’s final bout, with the youngster passing away less than 4 months later following a motorcycle accident.
2 - Neptali Alamag (July 31st 1984)
Sadly after making a very impressive debut Samart vanished from boxing for over a year before returning in 1984. After returning to the ring he scored two low key wins before taking on the highly experienced Neptali Alamag, from the Philippines. Although not a big name Alamag was a well regarded regional level fighter. He had been a professional since 1974 had well over 50 bouts to his name, had never been stopped before and was the OPBF Bantamweight champion. He was a solid fighter, by any standards, never mind for a man competing in just his 4th professional bout.
Despite the fact Alamag was a solid fighter he was no match for Samart who ended up stopping him in 7 rounds in a very impressive early career result. This wasn’t just impressive by virtue of stopping a tough guy, but Samart had stopped a reigning OPBF champion and essentially began the end for Alamag who was stopped again in his following fight and would never win again before retiring a few years later. This was a statement on the regional scene and proof that Samart was a heavy handed beast of a hopeful and someone who could be moved much, much quicker than an average hopeful.
3 - Lupe Pintor (January 18th 1986)
After moving to 11-0 (6) Samart got his first world title fight, taking on Mexican legend Lupe Pintor for the WBC Super Bantamweight title. The 30 year old Pintor had been stripped on the scales, but the title was still up for grabs for the 23 year old Samart, who was looking to win a title in just his 12th professional bout. On paper a massive step up, and Samart’s most notable bout, by far, up to this point.
Despite the step up the Thai dominated. He won the first 4 rounds with no issues before stopping Pintor in round 5 with a straight left hand. The loss for Pintor seemed to be the end for the Mexican great, and he wouldn’t fight again for almost 8 years before mounting a very poor comeback to the sport when he was well past his best. As for Samart this was his career defining moment up to this point, and a huge win for his career. Not only was a world title win, but it had come within a few years of his debut, and saw him become the latest man to prove that top Muay Thai’s could also be top boxers.
4 - Juan Meza (December 10th 1986)
Sadly Samart’s reign was a short lived one and he was a title holder for just 16 months, and made only a single defense of the title. That came in 1986 when he took on former champion Juan Meza, himself a huge punching Mexican fighter who had established himself as one of the best fighters to watch in the lower weights. Meza’s 1984 bout with Jaime Garza had seen him win the title in one of the greatest 1 round shoot outs ever, though he had only managed a single defense before losing the belt himself, to aforementioned Lupe Pintor.
Samart managed to really impress against Meza, winning pretty much everything through the first 11 rounds before giving us a highlight reel finish to the bout in the dying seconds of round 12. The Thai great dropped his hands, went to the ropes and evaded a huge barrage from Meza, who threw the kitchen sink at Samart. Samart avoided pretty much everything thrown his way, before landing a left hand of his own and stopping Meza. The ending to this fight has been seen time and time again and has seen Samart being dubbed the “Thai Matrix” in some modern day videos of the bout. Whilst it was significant as his first, and only, defense, the bout was even more significant in the longer term, with the finish often being the first thing of Samart’s that modern day fans saw. This win, and especially the finish, helped introduce Samart to a much wider audience than any of his other results.
5 - Tiger Ari (January 23rd 1994)
Sadly for Samart his career failed to really kick on after his first defense. He lost the title 5 months later to Australian legend Jeff Fenech in 1987, and after that fought just twice over the following year. In 1988 he seemed to be done with boxing and would go on to do various activities outside of the ring before returning to boxing in 1993. In his third bout after returning to the sport he took on Tiger Ari, a Filipino best known for his time fighting in Japan. Although no world beater Ari was a very good regional level fighter, having held the OPBF Super Featherweight title from 1992 to 1993. He was tough, experienced, tricky and certainly not an easy man to beat. In fact coming into this bout he was sporting a 33-4-1 (11) record and was 13-1 in his last 14 bouts.
Aged 31 Samart was not the fight he had once been, but he did enough to take a 10 round decision over the 26 year old Ari. Sadly for Samart this was essentially the start of the end for him and he would fight just 3 more times, notably losing the final one of those bouts to WBA Featherweight champion Eloy Rojas, before retiring from in ring competition. Although it was his final big win, it was also one that aged well, with Ari later going on to reclaim the OPBF title, and proving he was still a lively and solid fighter into the early 2000’s, well after Samart beat him.
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