To us one of the most interesting things in boxing is watching a prospect develop, mature and, eventually, win world titles. Their story, from novice professional to top of the mountain, is one of the best and is something we truly love. With that in mind the early tests for a fighter are really important to us. For today's Treasure Trove we're going to look at one such bout for a Thai prospect, as he went in with a former world champion. The bout provided not just a real test for a great prospect, but also had some great action, and was certainly not and easy win for a touted youngster.
This Treasure Trove wasn't so much a thrilling fight, though it's certainly not a bad one, but is instead a brilliant performance by a man who came of age in a major step up.
Thananchai Charunphak (7-1, 5) vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-8, 41)
Of the two fighters it's probably fair to say that 19 year old Thananchai Charunphak is the less well known. He was a former Thai youth amateur who turned professional in 2017. Although he won his debut he did suffer an early career set back, to fellow talented youngster Phongsaphon Panyakum. Less than a month after his loss Thananchai was back in the ring, picking up his second win, and by the end of 2018 he was 6-1, with a very notable win over Samartlek Kokietgym. He was beginning to look like one of the hottest prospects in Thailand, and on to watch. He was only a teenager, but a damn good one.
Kompayak Porpramook on the other hand was a true veteran. The 37 year old was a former WBC Light Flyweight champion who had had 68 professional bouts. Win or lose few had an easy time with Porpramook who was a physically scary fighter, always pressing forward and always able to take a lot of punishment without backing down from a fighter. Sadly for Kompayak his hard career had began catching up with him in recent years, and he had lost 3 of his previous 4. Despite those loss he was regarded not as a journeyman but as a gatekeeper, and few were able to stop him. In fact his last stoppage loss had come all the way back in 2012, when he was stopped in 6 rounds by Adrian Hernandez.
Coming in we had talented, but some what untested, youngster against dogged veteran, who was looking to prove he was more than just a stepping stone.
From the opening moments Kompayak was pressing forward, cautious pressuring behind his guard. Thananchai, to his credit, looked to keep things long and at range, using his speed and movement to try and neutralise the pressure of the veteran. Kompayak however was never a fighter who was easily dissuaded from coming forward and by the end of the opening round he was forcing Thananchai to work hard to stay off the ropes. Kompayak wasn't having massive amounts of success with his own output but was starting press more and more intently as the round came to an end.
In round 2 we began to see Kompayak letting his hands go, following his pressure with work rate as he slowly looked to turn the fight into his type of fight. Sadly for Kompayak this began to force Thananchai to move up a gear, and he began to let combinations go, and show a more spiteful side as he hammered Kompayak with some heavy blows. The plan from Kompayak likely expected this though, and he managed get through with a few of his own solid shots whilst putting the teenager under intense pressure.
Part way through round 3 the heavy, clean, hurtful shots of Thananchai had left Kompayak with nasty swelling around his left eye. It was clear the shots that Thananchai was landing were taking a toll, but they weren't dissuading Kompayak, who continued marching forward in round 4, desperate to drag Thananchai into his fight, and make it a high intensity war on the inside. In round 4 we finally saw glimpses of a war forming, as Thananchai was occasionally caught and was forced to respond, but they were only glimpses as the youngster continued to shine, showing off his movement and ring craft.
As the rounds went on Kompayak continued to march forward, round after round the veteran came forward, his right eye swelling in round as Thananchai used his face for target practice. It was clear that Kompayak was being beaten up, but Thananchai remained composed, stuck to his gameplan and picked his moments, looking less like a teenage prospect and more like an experienced professional picking away at a hungry and determined foe.
Sadly for Kompayak the consistent, heavy shots he was taking continued to take a toll on his face, which had become more and more of a mess. In round 9 it simply became too much, forcing the doctor to wave off the bout.
Whilst this was certainly not an exciting or action packed back and forth, it's rare that we see a teenager completely undress a former world champion like Thananchai did here. It was among the very best performances from a teenager in 2020. It was the sort of break out performance that helps a prospect gets noticed, and was one of the best performance by any Thai in the first half of the year. A really brilliant performance.
We continue the 2020 love in with Thailand this week as we return to the Workpoint Studio for this week's One to Watch, and it's a really intriguing one, matching a once beaten prospect against a former world champion, who always brings the head. The prospect is looking to notch a third notable win in 16 months whilst the former world champion is someone who always makes for fun and entertaining bouts, win or lose.
The One to Watch?
Phongsaphon Panyakum (10-1, 5) vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-10, 41)
December 5th (Saturday)
We love seeing prospects step up and here we have a 20 year old hopeful stepping up to face someone who has previously held a world title. The youngster appears to be on his way through the ranks, has an exciting style and despite being flawed is very much a man who seems to know his strengths, and fights to them. The veteran, is one of the most aggressive, exciting fighters in Thailand, who always comes to win and despite having 10 losses never enters the ring for just a pay day. He always comes to fight. Given the styles of the two men this should be something of a thrilling war
Once beaten 20 year old Phongsaphon Panyakum isn't a name we expect many fans to be aware of. That's despite the fact he debuted in June 2017, against Kai Ishizawa, won a Work Point tournament, and holds two wins over former world title challengers. If you've seen him you'll know that he's a big, strong, aggressive, exciting, and relatively open fighter. He comes forward, he lets shots go and even his supposedly easy bouts end up being fun and exciting.
Despite being fun Phongsaphon is very much a work in prospect. He depends, a lot, on his size, toughness, strength and physical power. That power has seen him stopped 3 of his last 4, but his open defense and aggressive tactics have seen him eat a fair bit of leather from poor opposition. We suspect that, at least partly, is due to his belief in his chin, and his confidence, but he may well need to tidy up here against his most testing opponent to date.
Aged 38 Kompayak is a veteran of the ring and has one of the most crowd pleasing styles out there, based around all out pressure and aggression. During his long career he has faced Hussein Hussein, Adrian Hernandez, Jonathan Taconing, Koki Eto, Jing Xiang and Wenfeng Ge. In recent years he has been picking up a lot of losses, losing 5 of his last 6, but he has never been an easy man to beat and he always comes forward and comes in great shape with a lot of hunger and desire. Technically he's not the quickest, sharpest and more skilled, but he is among the most aggressive and exciting.
Given his aggression and style he has taken punishment through his career, though has surprisingly only been stopped 4 times during his long, 20 year, career. He's not just a come forward pressure fighter, but he's also a really tough guy and as a result he will ask serious questions of younger, less experienced opponents.
What to expect?
At his very best Kompayak was undeniable world class. His world title win over Adrian Hernandez was an amazing war that saw Kompayak show determination, power, work-rate, toughness and real will to win. Sadly however that was more than 9 years ago, and he has been in some real wars since then. There's still a lot of heart here, but at 38 he's not the same fighter he once was.
Saying that however Phongsaphon is taking a step up here, and will find an opponent in front of him who will be looking to march him down, break him up and press, press, press. The youngster will be given a real mental test here and it's going to be very interesting to see how he responds to the pressure that gets sent his way. Without a doubt Phongsaphon will be the bigger, faster, stronger man, but can he cope with the pressure and does he have the power to get Kopmpayak's respect?
We suspect the youngster will win here. We feel his natural size and youth will be the difference. But oh boy will he need to work for this win. It will not be easy. It'll be a fun tear up, with Kompayak pressing and Phongsaphon forced to respond with the two trading blows continually through the bout. This is certainly one to watch for those who like fun brawls!
The bad news?
It's worth noting that originally Phongsaphon was supposed to face Sarawut Thawornkham (21-3, 16), though he was injured in November and had to be replaced by Kompayak. This is a shame in some ways, as Sarawut would have been a more interesting test, however Kompayak is no push over and will be there to win.
For those tuning in, this bout will be shown for free, as part of WP Boxing, and we suspect it will be something very intriguing and pretty exciting, for as long as it lasts!
The fights continue to come over the next few weeks, and whilst many of the bigger ones are getting the full preview treatment there are a few others which are worthy of some attention. This weeks "One to Watch" looks at one such bout, as a once beaten Chinese fighter looks to bounce back from defeat and faces off with a former world champion.
The one to Watch?
Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) v Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41)
This is a must win between two men who know one more loss right now will be the end of their hopes of landing a big fight. With both being in their 30's the fight really is a must win. It'll be great to see what one fighter does following his first loss, and seeing what the other guy has left in his tank. Given the styles of the two men this should also be a very entertaining fight and another Chinese bout worth tuning in to.
The once beaten Wenfeng Ge is a 32 year old who was, earlier this year, on the verge of a world title fight. Wins over Amnat Ruenroeng and Ivan Soriano seemed to have put Ge on the route to the top and his team came into the year looking to continue that impressive form against Giemel Magramo. Sadly for Ge he was unable to out box or impose himself against Magramo and in the end the Filipino beat up Ge over 10 rounds before a cut gave the referee a chance to stop Ge. In fairness the bout should probably have been stopped a bit earlier, but Ge's toughness refused to yield and he ended up taking a battering.
Thai veteran Kompayak Porpramook, also known as Suriyan Satorn, has been around since 2000 and at 37 is certainly an experienced warrior. He announced himself as a world class fighter in 2011, with a win over Adrian Hernandez in a sensational FOTY for the WBC Light Flyweight title, but that is the better part of a decade ago. His reign as a world champion was a short one, losing in his second defense, and would later have a reign as the WBA "interim" Flyweight champion, before losing that belt in a FOTY contender to Koki Eto. He's not the quickest, but he's rugged, throws a lot and is always there to fight. The ideal gatekeeper.
What to expect?
We expect to see a thriller here, with Kompayak trying to pressure and push Ge whilst Ge looks to box. If Kompayak can get the fight up close and personal, roughing up Ge, he has a great chance to take advantage of the cracks in Ge's confidence and remind him of the loss last time out. On the other hand if Ge can use his feet, create some space, and land at range, he could end up using Kompayak as a big of a punch bag. Our guess is that we'll see something in between those scenarios. We suspect that Kompayak will be getting close enough to force a fight in the middle rounds, but Ge taking the early rounds and the later ones, in a very close and exciting bout.
The bad news?
Both are old and they could age over night with their age catching up with them. Kompayak has been in a lot of wars and it would be no surprise to those wars showing here in what is his 69th professional bout. This could end up being less entertaining than expected, though we'd be surprised if it ended up being "dull".
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.