Wanheng Menayothin kicks off his year as he battles fellow unbeaten Jeffrey Galero, but what's our take?
Unbeaten records really can mean anything. They can mean a fighter is brilliant, they can mean a fighter is untested, they can mean a fighter is lucky, or they can mean that a fighter has yet to step up. Sometimes those that are yet to step are capable of stepping up, other times however a fighter cannot make that step successfully and when the try they fall short.
To kick off February we will find out what an unbeaten record means for two fighters. They are WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (36-0, 12) and Filipino challenger Jeffrey Galero (11-0, 5), who meet on February 5th
For Galero this is that step up, in a major way, whilst for Menayothin it's an opportunity to defend his title, a title he won when he stepped up and broke down Oswaldo Novoa late last year. Strangely however we've got to admit we don't really know how good either man is. Menayothin is certainly the more proven but still isn't a man we've seen truly pushed, though he did need to dig a bit to beat Novoa.
The 29 year old champion took 36 fights for us to really get to know him. It's unfair to say he hadn't beaten anyone in his first 35 bouts, but his best wins were over Ardin Diale, Florante Condes and Yuma Iwahashi. All 3 were decent wins but Condes really was the stand among them and that was, by far, the toughest bout for Wanheng in his first 35 contests.
In the ring the Thai champion is an interesting fighter to watch. He's aggressive but very intelligent and although he applies almost constant pressure it's very educated pressure. He fights well behind a high guard, knows when to let his shots go, and can move in and out of range with out taking much in return.
Although Wanheng is a smart fighter fighter he does have his flaws. His feet aren't the quickest, he looks uncomfortable on the backfoot and his hands aren't the heaviest or fastest. So far however he's managed to cover those flaws with intelligence and by fighting to his strengths. He has also been helped by generally fighting in small rings in Thailand where his pressure really is telling and he has been able to make fighters break, either mentally of physically.
Whilst we're unsure about how good Wanheng really is, we are lucky enough to have plenty of footage of him. The same cannot be said for Galero of which footage is minimal, to say the least. Sadly the lack of footage of Galero means we're unsure about how he fights. Thankfully we're not totally in the dark about him though and we do know that he's a southpaw and that his competition has, on the whole, been very poor.
In his first 10 bouts Galero's opponents had a combined record of 26-41-8. Of those 26 combined wins 9 had come by stoppage whilst 22, of the 41 losses, had come by stoppage. Basically Galero was fighting light hitting losers who weren't really expected to ask questions of him.
Thankfully in Galero's last bout we did see the Filipino being given questions as he took on the criminally under-rated Donny Mabao. The Mabao fight ended in a close decision win for Galero though saw real questions being asked of the unbeaten man who may well have found his level with that win. In all honesty that win over Mabao probably told us all we needed to know about Galero, he's not world class.
Going into this bout we suspect that we'll see Wanheng take a few rounds to work out what Galero has to offer, something especially important given that footage of Galero is as scarce as it is. After a few rounds rounds however Wanheng will begin to move through the gears and grind his first challenger who we suspect will be stopped in the middle rounds.
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