June 2, 2018


Unbeaten Japanese middleweight champ Kazuto Takesako, 160.75, struggled to extend his unblemished mark to 9-0, 9 KOs as he was befuddled with the durability and determination of unknown Thai opponent Chaiwat Mueanphong (4-2, 2 KOs), 160.5, but dropped him three times and finally halted him at 2:44 of the seventh round in a scheduled ten on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. Takesako had produced a great sensation by dethroning Hikaru Nishida with a 92-second demolition in the opening session this March. It might be understandable that he could find none to challenge him in quest of the national 160-pound throne since all were scared of the newly-crowned hard-punching champ.

People might have expected the stout-built champ's easy quick triumph over the 32-year-old southpaw Thailander with only five international style fights though he was introduced as former Muay-thai titlist. Chaiwatfs toughness and pride, however, were beyond description, as he stood up from bad knockdowns in the second and third, and displayed good retaliations against the prefight favorite. Chaiwat, taller and better muscled, sometimes connected with southpaw lefts to the midsection of Takesako, 26, who had previously lost to current WBA champ Ryota Murata when they were amateurs.

Despite sweeping all rounds with his aggressiveness, the audience supposed that Takesakofs KO streak would stop in this bout due to Chaiwatfs fighting spirit. But the battle abruptly came to an end when Takesako decked him for the third time?with a vicious left to the belly?with the ref Katsuragi calling a halt to save the nose-bleeding loser.

Lately we haven't recently seen good and tough Thai boxers over welterweight category though there are considerably many in lower divisions. We remember such greats as Somdej Yontrakit (Orient welter and middle champ in 1950fs; a legendary hard-punching Popeye-like southpaw), Apidej Sithiran (Orient welter titlist in 1960fs who dethroned Kazuyoshi Kubokura but lost to future world 154-pound ruler Ki-Soo Kim) and Keowan Yontrakit (Orient super-welter titleholder in 1960fs who captured the regional belt by finishing Korean Sae-Chul Kang in 1960fs). Lately, however, it is very rare to see such a tough battler as Chaiwat with good height and physique.

This reporter wonders why there are currently few campaigners over the welter division although we see excellent 105, 108 or 112-pounders. Then I called Mr. Ryuichi Kotani, a Japanee long-time correspondent residing in Thailand, and asked him this question. He replied, gIn the Muay-thai world here there have come good youngsters in heavier categories over the 147-pound division, and some of them may turn to the international style fight.h If so, we may witness a second Somdej in the near future.

In Japan we have WBA middleweight champ Ryota Murata, and in Mexico we respect WBA super-middle titlist Gilberto Zurdo Ramirez. Therefore, we may expect a possibility of a heavier Thailanderfs invasion in the over-welter categories in the future.


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