Earlier today we saw WBC Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri (39-1, 23), aka Petchmanee Kokietgym, successfully defend his title, as he over-came Japanese veteran Norihito Tanaka (20-9, 10). Sadly for Panya however he did not look like a top fighter here, and instead looked somewhat fortunate that he had some very favourable judging working in his favour.
From the off Tanaka fought like a man determined to end Japan's horrible record in world title fights in Thailand, a record that now stands at 0-26-1. He pressed forward, he pushed the action and he set a very, very high work rate, making Tanaka back off, and fight on the back foot, with the champion regularly backing on to the ropes. To be fair Panya landed the best single shots, and showed glimpses of brilliance, landing clean, hurtful shots in spurts, here and there, but on the whole he looked like a man expecting an easy win and over-looking Tanaka. Tanaka on the other hand looked like someone who was hungry to rip the WBC title from the champion.
After 4 rounds the open scoring wasn't really showing a reflection of Tanaka's hard work, with all 3 judges having the bout 39-37 in favour of Panya when the open scoring kicked in for the first time. The scoring of the judges didn't really change through the middle rounds, despite Panya looking tired in the middle portion of the bout, as the judges struggled to give anything to the busier, more active, Tanaka. After 8 round, when we got the second round of open scoring, the scores were 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75, with only the third of those scored really reflecting the competitive nature of the bout.
Panya managed to look really good in round 9 and 10, as he looked to blunt the charge of Tanaka, but in the final 2 rounds Tanaka really dominated, especially in round 12 as Panya looked exhausted and couldn't avoid the headshots of the challenger. In fact Panya looked hurt a number of times in the final round, but saw out the storm, and lasted the round. As a result we went to the score-cards for a foregone conclusion, with Panya winning courtesy of scores of 119-109, a truly awful scorecard, 118-110, a very wide and unreflective score, and 116-112, which was in the realms of defendable. Just about.
With the win Panya retains his title, but paints a giant bullseye on his back, and the likes of Ginjiro Shigeoka will be licking their lips thinking of getting a chance at Panya who looked really poor here. Tanaka was harsh on himself after the bout, but in reality he did a great job at making Panya looked very, very, very beatable, and it would be a huge surprise to see Panya beating any legitimate top 10 contender on the of this performance.
Earlier today in Thailand fans saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] record his 9th defense, as he over-came Japanese veteran Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10) [田中教仁], with a clear decision.
Early on Tanaka employed a smart gameplan, making Knockout chase him and miss, lining up some solid looking counter right hands, some effective jabs and one or two very good looking uppercuts. Despite the success of the challenger he never made anything clear, and always seemed to be doing more to frustrate, rather than putting his foot down in any way.
Sadly for Tanaka the champion wasn't in the mood to play about, and went after him with more intensity in rounds 3, dropping the challenger at the end of the round. Tanaka wasn't hurt, but from then on it always seemed like Knockout not only had the answers for the challenger, but had too much of everything for him.
Rounds 4 and 5 were torrid affairs for Tanaka, who had to show his toughness to see out some rocky spells, before the bout started to peter out a bit, with Tanaka becoming more and more negative. Late in round 7 we saw a lot of negative movement from Tanaka who seemed to be looking to stay safe, rather than take risks.
The tactics of Knockout saw him pressing forward through out the bout, and in the middle rounds his body work really had taken much of the fight out of the challenger. Sadly though Knockout never found that extra gear to really go for the finish, something that has been missing from his game for quite a while. He was dominant through out, but never looked like a man who should carry the "Knockout" moniker.
After 12 rounds the scorecards weren't an issue, with the judges scoring the bout 120-107, twice, and 119-108.
For Tanaka this is likely to be his only world title bout, and his loss sees Japanese fighters falling to 0-25-1 in world title bouts in Thailand. As for Knockout it potentially moves him towards a big fight, but it's hard to imagine top names travelling to face him in the outdoor conditions of Thailand any time soon.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.