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The Day a Cherry Pick Went All Wrong for a Celebrated Champion

Ted Sares

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Thai Champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam

With a record of 91-5-2, it will be difficult to keep Thai flyweight Pongsaklek Wonjongkam out of the Boxing Hall of Fame when his time finally comes. During his outstanding career, he was in more championship fights than Carter has pills.

Wonjongkam retired in 2013 but then came back in 2018, thus unwisely extending the call from the Hall. It now appears the 41-year-old, currently serving as a trainer and teaching boxing/Muay Thai classes, is permanently retired.

“His accomplishments surpass many of those already inducted into Canastota’s hall and his popularity in his native country exceeds the local appreciation most hall of famers get. Some people get into the IBHOF on fame, some get in on meaningful accomplishments, and the inductees that people never argue about get in on both. If you’re a boxing fan from Thailand you know where Wonjongkam stands….”, wrote Ryan Bivins in BadLeftHook.

This two-time former lineal flyweight champion won 55 consecutive bouts between 1996 and 2007, the longest continuous win streak in boxing at the time. This was just one of his many accomplishments; another occurred when he defeated South Africa’s Monelisi Mhikiza Myekeni in November 2007 by unanimous decision. In so doing, Wonjongkam, a southpaw, set the flyweight division record for consecutive title defenses at seventeen.

Wonjongkam was 25-3-2 in his 30 WBC title fights. Among his opponents were such high profile fighters as Malcolm Tunacao, Hussein Hussein, Koki Kameda, Edgar Sosa, Daisuke Naito who he fought three times, and the aforementioned Myekeni. Many of his opponents were former, current, or future world champions.  An inordinate number were Japanese which is unusual for Thai fighters.

In short, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam is recognized by knowledgeable boxing fans as one of the greatest flyweights in history.

Enter Sonny Boy Jaro

Sonny Boy Villaluz Jaro (45-15-5) is still fighting but the 37-year-old Filipino is on the downward side of his prime. He fought last month, losing by KO to fast rising Thai Nawaphon Por Chokchai. Among his 15 losses, nine came by way of stoppage while 32 of his 45 wins came the same way confirming his reputation as an exciting fighter.

In back to back fights in 2010 and 2011, Sonny Boy was stopped by Oscar Ibarra in Chihuahua, Mexico, and outpointed by neophyte Hirofumi Mukai in Osaka, Japan. He won his next four by TKO against fighters with losing records including the well-traveled Rey Megrino of the Philippines (Rey is now 24-20-4). These wins set up a WBC world flyweight title fight with Wonjongkam who was 83-2-2 at the time. They met on March 2, 2012 on a rainy day in Chonburi, Thailand.

Few gave the Pinoy (33-10-5 coming in) much of a chance — he had failed in two prior title fights — but as things turned out, this fight, which would be named Upset of the Year by The Ring magazine, gave new meaning to the phrase “Shock and Awe.”

Jaro was relentless throughout as he attacked both the body and head while the Thai champion launched periodic mini rallies on the slippery canvas giving his fans false hope, but in the fourth and fifth rounds, he could not hold off the Filipino and absorbed serious punishment. In the sixth Jaro was penalized a point for a low blow. Bowing and contrite, he then responded with two brutal knockdowns throwing some 20 unanswered blows before the second knockdown put the champion down and out. Referee Yuji Fukuchi awkwardly waved his hands to stop the fight. It appeared he could not believe believe that Jaro had just KOed the great Thai champion. He had been knocked down five times before the fight was stopped and while the first round knockdown did little damage, the four that followed were malevolent.

Becoming the lineal flyweight champion, Jaro laid claim to be “The Man Who Beat The Man.”

Later

Jaro’s reign would end when he lost his title to Toshiyuki Igarashi just four months later, while Wonjongkam went on to win eight of his last nine with the loss—an upset TKO– being to the aforementioned Rey Megrino in November 2012.

Jaro’s title reign was brief, but the affable Filipino had his day in the sun, shocking the boxing world with an upset that was one for the books against a legendary opponent who waits to be assuredly nominated and then most likely inducted into the IBHOF.

Ted Sares is a member of Ring 8, a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Grand Master class.

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Daniel-Jacobs-Edges-Past-Gabe-Rosado-on-a-Matchroom-card-in-Florida

Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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Pradabsri-Upsets-Menayothin-Ends-the-Longest-Unbeaten-Streak-of-Modern-Times

During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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