The Minimumweight division over the last 20 months has been frustratingly quiet, with very, very little happening since the start of the Covid19 pandemic. It's been the among the most frustrating divisions in the sport with champions being pretty inactive and challengers also lacking in terms of activity, forcing the division to almost stand still at times.
We get the the WBC title and the IBF title have changed hands since the start of 2020 but since the start of 2020 we have only seen two IBF title fights a single WBC, WBA "super", WBO and WBA "Regular" title fight. That's at world level. We have also seen a lack of bouts at regional level, and even on the Japanese domestic scene.
Thankfully it seems like this could be set to change through what's left of 2021 and the division might finally begin to come alive once again.
Kicking off the potential revival of the Minimumweight division we'll see world title action this coming Tuesday as WBA "super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) defends his title against fellow Thai Pongsaklek Sithdabnij (23-6-1, 13). This is a rare "Bloodline Battle", a world title bout between two Thais, and sadly it looks like a massive down grade from the last one, which incidentally saw Panya Pradabsri dethrone Wanheng Menayothin for the WBC title. Unlike that bout however, there will be significantly less international interest here, and very, very few will give the under-dog any kind of a chance. At all.
The unbeaten 31 year old champion, also known as Thammanoon Niyomtrong, has held some version of the WBA Minimumweight title since beating Carlos Buitrago in October 2014, for the "interim" title. Back that he was an exciting unbeaten hopeful stepping up his competition quickly, and looked like a breath of fresh air, with a unique fighting name. Since then he has claimed the WBA "regular" and "super" titles and become one of the few foundations for which the division has been built around, along with Wanheng. Sadly though he's also proven to be a very frustrating fighter to follow and someone who is lacking that extra gear, or may more exactly lacking the willingness to move into that top gear. In many ways he's of the same mentality, although different style, to Dmitry Bivol. It's clear he's talented but as long as he's winning he doesn't care about the style in which he wins.
Knockout is a talented fighter, he's a clean puncher, he's got solid defense, a good ring IQ and he knows his way around the ring. There is no denying his talent. This guy can box. Sadly though he's not very exciting. He lacks power, he lacks tenacity and work rate, and seems to also struggle with stamina. He keeps a predictable pace through much of the bout, coming alive early on, and controlling behind his under-rated foot and clean counter puncher. Earlier in his career he was much more exciting, but seems to have willingly tuned that down to fight safely, and to just defend his title, without creating any fuss or drama. In fact the most drama his recent bouts have had came from when ArAr Andales took the fight to him and we went to the scorecards early due to a cut. That fight aside there been no drama in a Knockout bout for years.
Again that's not to say the champion can't fight, he can. He's beaten Byron Rojas twice, Carlos Buitrago twice, Rey Loreto, Toto Landero and Xiong Zhao Zhong. He's just not exciting.
Pongsaklek Sithdabnij, also known as Siridech Deebook, is a 29 year old fighter who really isn't too well known. In fact fans who don't follow boxing outside of Asia will almost certainly know nothing about him, other than that he has taken the fighting name of a former Flyweight great, And there's good reason for that. There's not too much to talk about when it comes to Pongsaklek, despite managing to turn his career around, massively, he's not really proven himself as being ready for a world title fight. In fact he's almost certainly getting this fight due to Covid19 restrictions regarding travel in and out of Thailand.
The challenger debuted in 2009 and began his career with 3 straight losses, and was 0-3-1 after 4 bouts. Following that stumble he managed to find his groove in 2015, including a major upset over the then 22-0 Kongfah Nakornluang, winning 11 in a row to get his career going. Since then things haven't been plain sailing however and he's gone 12-3, losing to Yudel Reyes, Kompayak Porpramook and Marco John Rementizo. Not exactly Murderers' Row. He has also struggled in other bouts, narrowly over-coming Kompayak in a rematch, limping past Romshane Sarguilla, and edging a bout with Seksan Khumdee. Again not exactly the competition of an upcoming world title challenger.
In the ring Pongsaklek is the type of fighter who looks like he's always doubting himself. He's not quick, sharp, powerful or particularly polished. He's young and hungry but lacks the tools to really dominate fights. Against Kompayak for example, he was lucky the former world champion was heading towards his 40's. He doesn't throw a lot unless he absolutely needs to, he doesn't look confident and he certainly doesn't have fight changing power. Notably he has fought at Flyweight in the past, and is going to be big at Minimumweight, but he's not shown himself to be someone who uses his size well. When he does get more aggressive, and to his credit he can dig deep and up his work rate, he looks very sloppy and doesn't have that clean, crisp quality to his punches that we want to see at world level. He's just, sadly, very average in pretty much every way.
Given what we've seen from both men we expect Knockout to start well, take control early and then simply out box Pongsaklek, who will look to move through the gears, but will be sloppy in his offense, will be left chasing Knockout a lot, and will be countered, tied up and hitting the air a lot in the second half of the bout.
Although this is a world title bout at 105lbs between two Thai's we're not expecting a great fight. We are expecting a bit of a sloppy, dull, clear decision for the champion, who needs a run out after more than a year of inactivity.
Prediction - UD12 Knockout CP Freshmart
(Note this preview was written for the bout's originally scheduled May date, and has had minor edits for the new October date, sadly however the reality is that the Minimumweight division has continued to be very, very quiet since May).
World Title Previews
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