The last couple of years have not been good ones for the Minimumweight division, with very few of the top fighters actually fighting, and very, very few world title bouts taking place at 105lbs. One of the few notable results from the division since the start of the pandemic was the surprising win by Panya Pradabsri (36-1, 23) over Wanheng Menayothin in 2020, for the WBC Minimumweight title. The bout saw Panya claim the title, dethroning the then 54-0 Wanehng, and end a long reign by Wanheng, who went in as the favourite and seemed destined to retire with one of the most stunning looking records in the sports history.
Since winning the title, in November 2020, Panya hasn't had the chance to defend the belt. Sadly for most of the last 2 years, travelling into Thailand has been incredibly difficult, and as a result no title contenders have been willing or able to travel over. Sadly those issues are still there, however Panya will be defending his title this coming Tuesday. Unfortunately it's not against a top opponent, or as many hoped a rematch with Wanheng, but instead it'll be in a bout with the relatively unknown Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (9-2, 5), who is also a Thai.
The talented Panya showed what he could do in his title win last year. In that bout he looked very accomplished, and although we though he was lucky against Wanheng it was clear that he was very competitive, and wasn't out of place at world level. He was quick, he skilled, he picked his shots well, and he could both fight, box, and brawl when he needed to. He also showed a really experienced head, starting fast, taking an early lead, and protecting it through the bout. It didn't make for the most fun to watch performance, in what was a genuinely good bout, but it was calculated, it intelligent from Panya.
Whilst that was the first time many had seen Panya it is worth noting that's not his usual type of fight. He can certainly box, but he often seems happier to fight, and he's a big, strong, powerful fighter at 105lbs. He's got very heavy hands and throws some brutal body shots, both up close and at range. He likes beating up opponents who aren't fit to face him, and that's what we expect to see from him here. We expect him to make his first defense in style, and beat up a challenger, rather than control him, and the tempo of the bout, like he did against Wanheng.
Whilst Panya announced himself in 2020 with his win over Wanheng, Danai Ngiabphukhiaw was just ticking over and being busy, picking up 5 wins in 2020, and 2 mote this year. The 21 year old can't be criticised for his activity, and has fought 11 times since March 2019. Looking at the numbers on his record, it is worth noting that he has lost twice, though both of those losses came in his first 4 bouts, and he has gone 7-0 since then. Sadly however his wins have come against very, very low level opponents, and the most notable fighter he's faced is Thananchai Charunphak, who stopped Danai in 4 rounds. His 9 wins have come against dreadful opposition, and strangely the combined records of his wins has been 44-44.
Danai Ngiabphukhiaw, dubbed "Laser Man", is a promising youngster, but he is very much a young man learning his trade against limited fighters. Watching him we see a fighter who has got some nice skills, but they are unpolished, and he makes a lot of mistakes. His defense is poor, his offense is predictable, he lacks power, he gets caught coming in, and his footwork is predictable. He seems to want to fight as a counter puncher, but against his opponents so far he has struggled to draw leads, and looks like a novice. He is from a stream team of fighters, so will be progressing behind the scenes, but is a long, long way from being ready for a world title fight.
It's fair to say we are not expecting anything other than a win for Panya, and a relatively easy one. In fact we expect him to stop his challenger within 4 or 5 rounds, which shaking some ring rust and tuning up for bigger and better fights down the line. We like busy champions, and this is better than him sitting on the side lines, but it's a poor fight against a very, very inexperienced and limited challenger.
We expect Panya will take a few rounds to see if Danai is hiding something, before moving into third gear and taking out his challenger, likely with a body shot.
Prediction - TKO4 Panya
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.