The Middleweight division is in a period of relative flux with a number of champions who are likely to find themselves up against challengers who will fancy their chances over the coming year. The challengers, including the insanely exciting Hiroto Kyoguchi and the criminally under-rated Rey Loreto, are licking their lips however the champions are certainly looking out on the division on looking for easier contenders to face. That will be the case again this coming weekend when WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (46-0, 17) defends his title against Australian based Tanzanian born Omari Kimweri (16-3, 6).
The champion is closing in on the magic 50-0 but was fortunate earlier this year when he was taken to a very close decision by Melvin Jerusalem, who came into the bout as a hungry fight and showed his desire by pushing the Thai all the way. That bout is as close as we've seen Wanheng to picking up a loss, and it's the first time he has really shown signs of being an “old” fighter. In the past he has always looked like the type of fighter who can control the tempo of the bout with his educated pressure and combinations.
Although relatively unknown outside of Asia Wanheng is a genuine joy to watch at his best. He's an intelligent but aggressive fighter, who uses a tight guard to come forward and breaks his opponents down, with his pressure and under-rated power. His record may not show it, but Wanheng can punch, and has stopped 5of his last 9 whilst making 6 defenses of the world title and scoring notable wins over Go Odaira, Saul Juarez and Young Gil Bae. The win over Juarez, last year, showed how good Wanheng was, though did see him turn off late in the bout, but he's not looked the same since with the close win over Jerusalem and a couple of simple victories.
Born in Tanzania and now based in Australia Kimweri is a well travelled fighter and one who has actually faced some pretty interesting competition. In just his 4th bout he battled Angky Angkotta, in 2013 he lost a controversial decision to Shin Ono and last time out, more than a year ago, he took a controversial win over Randy Petalcorin. Aged 34 he's no spring chicken and he has been in some tough, and draining bouts, particularly the Petalcorin one.
Although not the most sensational of fighters Kimweri is a decent boxer-mover, he's game and has a real desire to win. He got off the floor numerous times against Petalcorin, a razor sharp puncher, and kept looking to win as he looked to always fight back. He was out matched but showed no quit and seemed to get some help from the judges to escape with a much debated win.
Although Wanheng didn't look his best last time out, it does look like this bout is one for him to shine in. Kimweri is similar, in some ways, to Go Odaira and will lack the power to get Wanheng's respect whilst the Thai will almost certainly walk through him, and eventually get a stoppage late in the bout.
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.