For a second week in a row we're in Thailand for our Treasure Trove fight, and this time we're not looking at a Thai teenager shining but instead a surprise result in a brutal and hard hitting fight that was far more entertaining and exciting than it had any right to be. The only thing it has in common with last week's Treasure Trove bout is that the same promoter, TL Promotions, put both on.
For fans of boxing from Thailand this is one of those bouts that really is just a tough bout, with both guys taking clean shots in a thriller of a bout. A really tough entertaining scrap with brilliant 2-way action.
Tanes Ongjunta (4-0, 2) vs Adrian Lerasan (8-4, 1)
In 2019 former Thai amateur standout Tanes Ongjunta turned professional leaving behind a very solid amateur background that had seen him win a 2- silver medals at the South East Asian Games, in 2015 and 2017, and compete at various notable international tournaments. Although not an elite level name Ongjunta had beaten a number of solid fighters including Muhamad Ridhwan, Ian Clark Bautista and Jasurbek Latipov. He had made his professional debut at the age of 26 and expectations were high on the man from Bangkok.
To begin his professional career Ongjunta had fought in the TL Promotion tournament "The Fighter" and had impressed winning that in 2019. To begin 2020 he was looking to capture the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title. The man looking to stand in his way was Filipino youngster Adrian Lerasan.
The 21 year old Lerasan was an unknown and there was nothing on his record to suggest he was going to be any kind of a test for Ongjunta. He had made his debut back in 2016, aged 17 and after winning his first 6 bouts had lost 3 in a row. He had bounced back with a decent win over Jeny Boy Boca, but that looked like a blip when he was easily out pointed by Dave Apolinario just 3 months later. A low key win over Anthoy Galigao did little to help him establish momentum. Not only had he gone 2-4 in his previous 6 but Lerasan seemed to have no power, and hadn't scored a stoppage since his 4th bout, when he stopped the limited MJ Bo.
From the opening seconds it seemed that Ongjunta was the more skilled man, relying on his amateur schooling to get behind his excellent jab, control range and make Lerasan fall short. The Filipino was there to fight but within a minute he looked the lot less polished and had eaten a solid counter right hand and several jabs. The technical skills of the two men looked a world apart and whilst Ongjunta was well school Lerasan was wild, and trying to catch Ongjunta with heavy leather. Something his record suggested wasn't in his arsenal. Towards the end of the round however a firefight broke out as Ongjunta got over confident and Lerasan responded with a nice flurry of his own.
In round 2 we again saw the gulf in skills between the two men shining and Ongjunta just looked so much more polished, rounded and skilled than his Filipino foe. Ongjunta was landing solid jabs, good body shots and nice counters, even rocking Lerasan part way through the round. It seemed ominous for the Pinoy who was taking punishment, struggling to land, and was being backed up late in the round. Credit to the Filipino however for standing in their and taking the shots without folding.
Despite taking a shellacking late in round 2 we saw Lerasan come out with a point to prove in round 3. Sadly for him that saw him throwing himself off balance and taking more punishment in the opening minute of the round. It seemed like Ongjunta was going to take out his man, and was now landing to head and body with ease. It was starting to get painful for Lerasan who we knew was tough, but was taking huge shots, and legs buckled half way through round 3. Ongjunta was putting a beating on the young Pinoy, until the dying seconds of the round when, out of nowhere, Lerasan landed some huge shots, backing on Ongjunta who was seemingly saved by the bell. The instantly being injected with danger for the Thai, who had seemed in control until the final 30 seconds of round 3.
Lerasan knew he'd hurt Ongjunta. He knew he had had a window of opportunity taken away by the bell. Just knowing he could hurt his man was, however, a major break through. Ongjunta also knew he had been hurt, and in round 4 he still looked buzzed and bothered by the Filipino who was coming forward and putting the local under intense pressure. Ongjunta tried holding, spoiling, smothering and seeing out the storm. Lerasan however wouldn't stop coming forward, trying to turn this into a street fight and rocking Ongjunta again late in the round and forcing a big response from the Thai.
Heading into round 5 it seemed Ongjunta knew he needed more than just nice boxing skills. He knew he was in a fight, and he had to dig deep and try to fight fire with fire and get Lerasan's respect once again. That's exactly what he tried doing in round 5, and seemed to again hurt Lerasan who was backed up on to the ropes. Lerasan however recovered quickly and fired back late in the round. He was missing with most of his shots, but doing enough to force Ongjunta think twice about just wading in.
It seemed as if the momentum was back in favour of the Thai as we entered round 6, and Lerasan landed a great right hand early in the round as he looked to re-establish his rhythm again. Lerasan wasn't there to come up short though and fought back through the round, really coming on strong in the final 90 seconds of the round as the tempo, and shots seemed to begin to take their toll on the unbeaten Thai, who had never faced a test like this in his short professional career. That pressure from Lerasan eventually broke Ongjunta who was wobbled, and then rocked and then, finally, hit the canvas with just seconds of the round left.
Credit to Ongjunta, he beat the count, made his way to his corner and tried to get his head clear as we entered round 7. He looked much better at the start of the round, and had success early on in the round, landing numerous uppercuts on the inside. Lerasan however turned the tables after about a minute of the round and had Ongjunta all at see before the Thai managed to get back on the inside smothering Lerasan and unloading counters. The round swung one way, then the other, then back, and forth giving us sensational 2-way action until Ongjunta was dropped for the second time. With almost 40 seconds left when the bout resumed Lerasan went for the finish but Ongjunta saw out the storm and fired back. This was one of the very best rounds of 2020 and deserves to be enjoyed in full.
With the insane 2-way action of round 7 it was hard to know what we were set to get in round 8. Had the two men punched each other out? Was Ongjunta able to come back from two knockdowns to take control of the bout once again? Could the light punching Lerasan really stop Ongjunta?
Starting the round it was again the Thai on the front foot, looking to reestablish his control of the contest, and grind down the young Filipino. Several times in the opening minute Lerasan looked under pressure, but he fired back with around a 70 seconds and dumped Ongjunta on to the canvas. He was hurt but a proud fighter, getting back to his feet again and looking to continue the bout. The referee gave him the chance but it was futile and moments later Ongjunta was down for the fourth time. He got up again and then pummelled down to the canvas for the third time in round. That was it. The referee knew he couldn't let the local fighter take any more. He was spent.
Although this was a hidden gem, way back on March 1st, it is very much worth a watch. It is jaw dropping at times, intense at others, with sensational back and forth action, heart, determination and momentum shifts. This is up there with the very, very best fights we saw in the entire of 2020. This was just an unexpected treat as a fight fan and something all fans owe themselves the chance to watch. A brilliant fight.
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.