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.
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.