For this week's one to watch we're going to go over and focus on Thailand for a compelling match up that, in all honest, we didn't think we wanted, until we saw the two men in the ring essentially announcing the bout live on Work Point TV. From the moment they did that we have been massively excited about the contest and the compelling mash of styles.
The One to Watch?
Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6)
November 7th (Saturday)
It's rare, at least in Thailand, to get two pretty well known domestic fighters in the ring against each other. Typically Thai shows are "big name against unknown" or "rising prospect against faded fighter" here however we have two past their best former world champions facing off in what looks like a match watering, well matched and truly intriguing match up. This isn't one we expect will be a war, but we are anticipating a very, very interesting contest.
Of the two men we would assume that the 40 year old Amnat Ruenroeng is the more well known fighter. The former IBF Flyweight champion is a truly compelling character who was once in prison due to drug offenses, before turning his life around, having success in amateurs and then in the professional ranks. At the age of 34 he won the IBF Flyweight title and defended it against some top fighters, such as Kazuto Ioka, McWilliams Arroyo, Zou Shiming and John Riel Casimer, before losing the belt in 2016. It was assumed that would be the end of him, but he later went to the Olympics, fought Tenshin Nasukawa in kick boxing, and has a boxing resurgence in 2019.
Now aged 40 it's fair to ask what Amnat has in the tank, though he showed he was very much a tricky master last time out, giving Srisaket Sor Rungvisai a real test in August and the awkward, frustrating Thai is certainly not shot, but is shop worn.
Despite being less well known Pungluang Sor Singyu is a 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion who has been a professional since 2001, and is still only 31. Some how. He first won the WBO Bantamweight title in 2012, beating the popular AJ Banal, but lost the belt just 5 months later, to Paulus Ambunda. He worked his way into a second world title shot, and was giving Tomoki Kameda fights before being taken out by the brilliant Japanese fighter. when Kameda vacated the title Pungluang had his second reign, beating Ryo Akaho before losing the bout in a great bout against Marlon Tapales.
In recent years Pungluang has toiled a little bit, going 2-4 following the loss to Tapales, but scored a notable upset earlier this year, against Campee Phayom, and that has opened the door for a fight like this, for him.
What to expect?
One thing we expect with Amnat bouts is that they can get ugly, and Pungluang isn't against making fights ugly himself, when he needs to. So there is a risk that this could end up being a mess. Thankfully however we expect that risk will be somewhat low, with the weight, Featherweight, being one that would favour Pungluang in an up close wrestling match.
Instead we expect to see Amnat trying to play the role of move-boxer, getting on the outside, jabbing, slipping, tiping Punluang. The younger man will be coming forward, looking to throw his own heavy, straight shots, trying to get inside and work away with hooks. Interestingly Amnat is probably the naturally longer, taller man, and he'll try to use that to his advantage early on. As the bout goes on however we expect his legs to slow, and for Pungluang to try and ground down the veteran.
In regards to outcome this is a very, very hard one toi predict, and we wouldn't be surprised by a close decision either way.
The bad news?
For once there isn't really any bad news. The bout is an interesting one, it'll be available for free on WP Boxing's YouTube and Facebook pages and, better yet, it won't clash with Dynamic Glove, as the Japanese show will be shown on Tape Delay and not live!
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.