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.