To kick off the month of May, WP Boxing are set to give us a treat, which will also be shown on DAZN for those outside of Thailand. The card is certainly not one which will turn heads or get much attention by default but the main event is something of a potential hidden gem, and could be one of the few fights that really helps kick start May, which promises so much later in the month.
The One to Watch?
Thananchai Charunphak (11-1, 9) Vs Adrian Lerasan (9-4, 2)
May 1st (Saturday) (Note - this bout has now been postponed to June 5th)
Here we have two men who aren't too well known, but should make for a really great match up. In one corner will be one of the top rising prospects in Thailand, and someone who regular viewers of the WP Boxing series should be familiar with. In the opposite corner is a hungry youngster looking to build on a career best win, which just so happened to be the last time he travelled over to Thailand and faced a highly regarded Thai hopeful!
We suspect those who have been following Thai boxing over the last two or three years will have some familiarity with Thananchai Charunphak. The talented and heavy handed youngster is one of the real emerging faces of Thailand and is quickly becoming one of the most promising prospects in the country. He's only 21 but already holds wins over Samartlek Kokietgym, Kompayak Porpramook and Pigmy Kokietgym and another win here would be a big over over a live, young, foe.
Whilst Thananchai is somewhat well known the same can't be said of Adrian Lerasan, who's biggest achievement so far is a shock win in 2020 over Tanes Ongjunta. Although not well known Lerasan has faced some solid names and has beaten the likes of MJ Bo, twice, and Jeny Boy Boca. He has also given Dave Apolinario a very solid test in 2019. Lerasan is less than polished, but is tough, he comes to win, and few can doubt his desire and his heart. At 22 years old he is still a young, ambitious fighter himself, despite having 4 losses to his name, and he will enter this bout showing no fear, at all, of Thananchai.
What to expect?
We expect this to be the hidden gem of a bout. Thananchai will look to dictate, take center ring and box. He is the more skilled and more polished fighter, but also the more deliberate fighter and it can sometimes be clear what he's doing and how he does things. Which could make this interesting as Lerasan is a bit unpredictable, a bit wild, and a bit crude. That crudeness could work in his favour here, and could end up catching Thananchai more often than the Thai would like.
Sadly we don't think Lerasan has the power to really bother Thananchai, but will certainly come to fight, have moments of real success and give Thananchai a lot to think about. We saw against Ongjunta that he's tough, gutsy, brave and doesn't come to roll over. Sadly however he is likely to be more of a "valiant loser" here than really come close to picking up the win.
The bad news?
The bout is unlike to get much attention given the other bouts taking place in early May, including Kazuto Takesako Vs Riku Kunimoto in Japan, Dereck Chisora Vs Joseph Parker in the UK and Erislandy Lara Vs Thomas Lamanna in the US. It's also not really one where we can see an upset as being likely, though we do imagine this will be a very, very fun fight to watch.
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.
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.