This past weekend we all turned out attention to the US for a fight between the #1 and #2 Light Welterweights. It was billed as a special fight, and although no one expected a war, everyone expected something memorable. What we got was a bout that resembled a sparring session with Terence Crawford simply being too good for Viktor Postol in every single way.
Today, just a few days later, we had a war as Pungluang Sor Singyu (52-4, 35) [ผึ้งหลวง ส.สิงห์อยู่] battled under-rated Filipino Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12), in what was a thrilling WBO Bantamweight title fight. The Thai champion was looking to make the second defense of his title, whilst the unheralded Filipino was looking to make the most of his opportunity.
The fight started relatively evenly, and through 4 rounds there was little to separate the fighters. A judge could have had it 40-36 one way, or the other and no complaints would have been had. The two men each had their moments, and each could have impressed the judges with their particular style. For Pungluang it was as the pressure fighter attacking the body whilst Tapales was showing the better pure boxing and seemed to be landing the flashier head shots.
In round 5 the bout took a major shift with Pungluang having a break through with his body attack, sending Tapales down twice, with Tapales taking much of the count to get up. It was guts and bravery in the extreme from the Filipino who ended the round being beaten up and was very lucky the referee didn't wave the bout off. He looked spent and with another referee that would have been it.
Amazingly Tapales came out for round 6 and ended up turning the bout around in his favour hurting the Thai with a left hand before dropping him with a right hook. Although Pungluang got up from the shot he seemed to be in survivor mode and didn't seem to recover as the bell went.
Notably Pungluang didn't ever seem to fully recover, either physically or mentally, and his pressure style, with the body shots,never returned after the knockdown with the Thai preferring to try and counter punch the Filipino who was growing in confidence after the knockdown. Round 7, 8 and 9, seemed to see a hungry looking Tapales back up Pungluang, who only had select moments of success whilst the Filipino had more sustained and more notable work. It was a strange twist but it seemed like the effort to finish Tapales off at the end of round 5, and the subsequent knockdown in round 6, had left Pungluang short on confidence,
In round 10 we saw more of the same, but by now the work of Tapales was taking a growing physical effect on the Thai who seemed to try everything he could to get the juices going again. Everything he tried however failed and although he had a little bit of success in the round it seemed that his time as champion was whittling away
With in seconds of the 11th round starting Tapales had his next break through, dropping Pungluang, who failed to beat the count. The crowd silent, whilst the realisation that Tapales had become the new champion saw the Filipino and his team celebrate.
For Pungluang this loss was a painful one. He had come incredibly close to winning in round 5, he could likely taste his celebration meal, but to see Tapales pull through the torrid round seemed to mentally break the Thai who never looked the same fighter. For Tapales the heart he showed and the aggression, as well as the way he had coped with being messed around in Thailand was incredible and his will to win will make him an incredibly hard fighter to dethrone.
When an orthodox fighter faces a southpaw we do often get headclashes, though not fights have them as regularly as the WBO Bantamweight title fight that we had earlier today between defending champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (52-3, 35) and Filipino challenger Jetro Pabustan (26-3-6, 7). The two men seemed to fight like their were magnets in each other's heads and clashes became a recurrent theme.
In the opening round there were several headclashes, they weren't major ones but they foretold the story that was to come through the following rounds. Unfortunately they were a by product of both men wanting to fight on the inside and both looking to land big shots whilst there. Although both were wanting to fight a similar fight the actual style suited the stronger and more powerful Pungluang, who was getting the better of the action. Pabustan seemed the better outside fighter but all too often gave away his reach to fight up close.
The inside action continued through the fight with round 2 seeing more headclashes, this time they did result in damage with Pabustan being cut from a clash and being bullied when the fight was being fought up close. The cut was inspected in the early stages of round 3 but the doctor ruled that the challenger was fine to continue. Although ruled fine Pabustan did seem to be uncomfortable and did begin to hold and make the action more desperate as Pungluang found a home for some massive right hands as Pabustan stood in the pocket too long.
Pabustan's discomfort was made even worse in round 4 as Pungluang turned up the heat and gave him a bit of a pounding with shots that landing with a sickening thud. Pabustan was beginning to look tired and defeated whilst Pungluang was looking like a man enjoying himself as he seemed to begin breaking down his over-matched challenger.
Amazingly Pabustan had his best round of the fight in round 5, as he mixed up the distance more, used his speed and reach and seemed to make a solid claim to win the round. He did put a lot of effort in to the round but seemed like a worth while tactic given that he needed some momentum after a very painful round 4.
The headclashes returned in style at the beginning of round 6 and saw Pungluang actually back up in agony. The headclash gave the two a few seconds before the action resumed and a seemingly angry Pungluang went after Pabustan with a renewed tenacity landing a number of hurtful right hands as he looked to punish the Filipino. The round was a clear Pungluang round and saw the Thai's smile return.
Sadly the headclashes simply seemed to never end and early in round 7 the doctor too Pabustan to the doctor again, this time to look at a cut around the side of his head. The doctor against allowed the fight to go on, but that did little to help Pabustan who was again on the end of some nasty right hands from the Thai who had got the venue rocking with the crowd well behind him. It seemed as if Pungluang was really breaking up the Filipino and on his way to a stoppage, however a headclash on the bell left Pabustan looking a bloodied mess.
Between rounds 7 and 8 the doctor took another look at Pabustan and called a halt, taking the bout to the scorecards which all favoured the champion by a score of 70-63.
For Pabustan a technical decision shouldn't be anything new, it's his 12th overall and his 4th in the last 7 bouts. His wild style leads to headclashes and has marred up more than just a couple of fights. For Pungluang this win sets up a mandatory title bout with another Filipino challenger, Marlon Tapales. That bout will take place later this and should be a much cleaner bout than this one, however, like Pabustan, Tapales is a southpaw.
(Image courtesy of thairec.com)
In boxing there are some great rivalries. One of the best in Asia is the Japan Vs Thailand rivalry which has provided numerous great fights over the years, including the recent Daigo Higa Vs Kongfah CP Freshmart fight for a WBC Youth title.
Despite the rivalry being a great one it has seen Thailand use home advantage to great effect, and that was seen again today as Pungluang Sor Singyu (51-3, 35) scored a surprise stoppage of Ryo Akaho (26-2-2, 18) and left Japanese still looking for their first world title victory in the land of smiles.
Prior to the bout the Thais played games, as they often do. The two men were in the ring for more than 20 minutes for the first punch was thrown. Whilst they were in the ring introductions were given to every one, from the judges and referees to the sponsors. Those introductions were then followed by national anthems as the Thai's stalled, and tried to break the concentration of the visitor before a punch was even thrown. It wasn't unexpected but it did look like it worked with Akaho looking frustrated as the camera zoomed in on him waiting for the fight to start.
As soon as the fight started it was clear that the build up had frustrated Akaho who began by throwing some ridiculous shots. Pungluang wasn't looking great himself but seemed to know that if he kept getting into Akaho's head this was going to be easy. As part of getting to Akaho the Thai held, hit behind the head and bent the rules, without breaking them. He took a warning from referee Robert Byrd inside the opening stanza but it was clear that Akaho wasn't enjoy it as he complained several times to the referee. Other than the dirty action the opening round was close, intense and it looked like both were going to go for an early finish.
In round 2 Pungluang seemed to jump start the round, immediately taking the fight to the visitor who was caught in his own corner. Akaho escapes the situation and manages to have some success of his own before being turned in a neutral corner by Pungluang. The movement of Pungluang, and the frustration of Akaho, saw the Japanese fighter sending himself into the turnbuckle head first. Instantly Pungluang smelled blood and unload with Akaho unable to respond, or defend himself. The assault was vicious and quickly sent Akaho down, where he remain until the bout was stopped.
Whilst Pungluang did appear to land a shot to the back of Akaho's head, it did look like an innocuous blow with the other shots in the sequence being the ones that ended the bout. Those were landed whilst Akaho seemed to be trying to grab the ropes to steady himself, and as a result he left himself open to some clean bombs which landed hard.
For Akaho this is a second disappointment at the world level after a previous loss, at Super Flyweight, to Yota Sato. Amazingly the loss has seen Japanese fighters fall to 0-3 in Bantamweight title bouts outside of Japan this year, with losses also coming for Tomoki Kameda and Ryosuke Iwasa. As for Pungluang it's a career defining victory and sees him becoming a 2-time world champion. The interesting question now is what Pungluang does in his first defense as he will now become a marked man for fighters like Ryo Matsumoto, Zhanat Zhakiyanov and Shohei Omori, all of whom may have the backing to get the Thai outside of his homeland.
It's not often that we get all Asian world title fights in the US but that's exactly what we had on Saturday night/Sunday morning as Japan's Tomoki Kameda (30-0, 19) successfully defended the WBO Bantamweight title against former champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (46-3, 21) of Thailand. The fight, a mandatory defence for Kameda, saw both men making their US debut and both doing things to impress the US audience though it was clear that it was Tomoki that left the lasting impression.
Kameda genuine impressed from the opening round, a round that saw him boxing and moving, picking his spots and making the most of his exceptional hand speed. It was his handspeed combined with his jab that kept Pungluang at bay for the round. A round that really was one sided, as shown by the punch stats, despite Pungluang never being in trouble.
The second round was another where Kameda's speed seemed to be what won him the round. It was clear her wasn't sitting on his shots but he was easily landing more notable shots and the high number of shots with Pungluang often walking into punches as if to suggest they effective punches, for Pungluang however his own offence was lacking.
The Thai managed to finally get some notable success in round 3 as he started to land numerous body shots on to the Japanese fighter who appeared to be slowing for much of the round, in fact in the first 90 seconds it was hard to see many shots of note from the champion, though he did fire back well late in the round. Despite the late rally by the champion it was a Pungluang round with little to no argument. Likewise the 4th was also a Pungluang round after he wobbled Tomoki in the opening seconds with a huge right that saw Tomoki forced on to the retreat.
The small wobble for Kameda in round 4 seemed to waken him up and in round 5 he he got back to doing what he did so well early on, picking his spots and fighting at range, using his speed and making sure Pungluang couldn't have much in terms of sustained success. The action was slower though it was controlled, completely, by Tomoki who used the final minute to secure the round with numerous flashy combinations that were eye catching but likely not that effective.
In round 6 we had round that saw both men having some notable success. For Pungluang it was the body shots, which he had seemed committed to through out the bout, for Tomoki it was the flash combinations that all came from his sharp jab. It was clear that when Tomoki wanted to look sensational he did but it also seemed like Pungluang was having success with his grinding body shots that were likely to pay dividends later in the fight.
Surprisingly in round 7 we saw the tables turn as Tomoki held his feet and the two went to work up close. It was great back and forth early in the round with both men landing their own eye catching combination, this time however Tomoki's was effective cutting Pungluang around the eye. According to the Showtime commentary this was the first time Pungluang had been cut in 49 fights, we admit we find that hard to believe but he did look bothered by the blood in the seconds that followed. The cut was just the first of two major issues for Pungluang and the second was even more serious as Tomoki, now being cheered on by the fans, went to the body of Pungluang and connected with a perfect body shot that sent the Thai down in agony.
From the second Pungluang went down it was clear this fight was over, he was not getting up. Thankfully the referee realised that quickly and waved the bout off as Tomoki scored one of the best body shot KO's anyone will see this year.
Currently unable to fight in Japan we'd be shocked if Tomoki doesn't return to the US for his next defence, likely against interim champion Alejandro Hernandez. Hopefully that will help him spread the Kameda name stateside and open up opportunities for both Koki and Daiki to fight on either US shows, like the one Tomoki fought on, or on shows in places like Macau and Singapore under the Top Rank banner. For now however the future will be put on the back burner because this win is a moment to savour for the infamous Kameda family.
(Image courtesy of OneSongchai, the promoted of Pungluang)
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.