Earlier today we got the long awaited rematch between WBC Minimumweight champion Petchmanee CP Freshmart (38-1, 23), aka Panya Pradabsri, and former champion Wanheng Menayothin (55-2, 19) [วันเฮง มีนะโยธิน, with Panya seeking his second defense of the title and Wanheng looking to recapture the belt that he held from 2014 to 2020.
The two men, who first clashed in 2020, had been scheduled to fight in January before the bout got postponed and rescheduled to today. Despite the delay it was clear both men were hungry and, much like their first bout, they gave us something a little bit special.
In the first round the former champion forward with his footwork, though was lacking in terms of output whilst trying to close the range and force Panya to work hard to create space. It saw the defending champion take the round on work rate, but it was clear that Wanehng and his team had a game plan in mind. Although he lost the round, he did begin to come alive in the last 45 seconds of it, and worked the body smartly through out the round with single clean body jabs.
In round 2 Wanheng began to pick up the pace, have eased himself into the contest, and he began to close the distance more successfully, whilst having more of the action go his way. Panya still had plenty of moments himself, including a huge right hand part way through the round, but this was much better from Wanheng, who was making the fight his fight, and making Panya work hard. The close back and forth action of round 2 continued through the rest of the early going, and after 4 rounds the open scoring had the bout even at 38-38. It wasn't just even on the cards, but also in terms of action, with neither man managing to event dictate the tempo and action for long. Both had their moments, in every round and both managed to land some very eye catching shots in some thrilling exchanges.
As we went through the middle rounds of the bout the action continued to be hotly contested, with Panya's size, speed and youth playing a factor, just as much as Wanheng's experience, ring craft and known how. Sadly for Wanheng however it seemed that through the middles the judges weren't as impressed by his work as they were by Panya, who seemed to create space with more ease than he had earlier and also backed up Wanheng several times. Sadly for Wanehng it was during those middle rounds that he began to fall behind on the scorecards, with Panya leading 78-74, twice, and 77-75, after 8 rounds, when the open scoring kicked in for the second time.
Knowing he was down Wanhen tried to put his foot on the gas in the final third of the bout. He was more aggressive, worked really well on the inside and seemed to outwork Panya, who was regularly forced to give ground under the pressure of Wanheng. It was a great late surge by the veteran, who was showing in his mid 30's that he still has a great engine, and still fight hard in rounds 11 and 12.
Sadly though the great late surge from Wanheng was seemingly ignored by the judges, with all 3 judges scoring the bout 117-111 for Panya, a score that really didn't reflect the late charge by the veteran, or the very, very close and competitive nature of the bout.
Whilst Panya is now 2-0 against Wanheng, this rivalry still feels unfinished, with both of the wins for Panya being incredibly close, and the feeling was that Wanheng could easily have gotten the decision, in either bout. Whilst Panya might be the WBC champion for the next few years, it feels very much like he's not going to have the lengthy and impressive reign that Wanheng head. As for Wanheng, we'd love to see him get another world title fight before he hangs them up. On the back of this performance it's the least he deserves.
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.