By Jake Donovan
It's only fitting that Koki Eto picked up the biggest win of his career on the road, because he might have to fight outside of his native Japan if he wants to hold onto his newly acquired title.
A final round knockdown allowed Eto to edge out former 108 lb. titlist Kompayak Porpramook in their sensational 12 round flyweight brawl Thursday evening in Bangkok, Thailand.
The win netted Eto an interim flyweight title, but his status won't go recognized by the Japanese Boxing Commission (more on that later).
Eto wasted no time in imposing his will on the Thai veteran, pressing the action early on and appearing to pick up a first round knockdown. The sequence was ruled a slip, but motivated the 25-year old into believing he could just throw caution to the wind and overwhelm his opponent.
Porpramook was grateful. So, too, were the fans in attendance as well as those watching at home on Thailand Channel 7 or on their online stream.
The concept of giving fans their money's worth has never been lost of Porpramook, whose 108 lb. title reign began with a knockout of Adrian Hernandez in a Fight of the Year-level slugfest in Dec. 2011. The reign was short lived, conceding the crown to Hernandez in a one-sided rematch 10 months later on the road in Mexico.
Porpamook has since found success at flyweight, having won his last four contests. His most recent win was for an interim title, but it took him a couple of rounds against Eto to realize a stronger effort was required in order to retain it.
With his visiting opponent inviting him into a brawl, the smaller Porpramook was willing to oblige. Eto cast aside his considerable height and reach advantage for the sake of swinging for the fences, making it easier for the hometown fighter to work his way inside and impose his will.
There was enough give-and-take throughout the fight to keep the crowd on the edge of its seat the entire way. The fight was very much on the table heading into the deciding 12th and final round.
Eto was up on one card, but trailing by a point on the other two. A dramatic reversal of fortune came within the final minute of the bout, when Porpramook went down. This time, the sequence was ruled a knockdown, thus giving Eto a 10-8 round and ultimately the fight.
Scores were 114-113 (twice) and 116-111, all in favor of Eto, who was declared winner and new interim champion.
The interim label doesn't sit well with the Japanese Boxing Commission, which in theory makes the organization the only one with a conscience. Japan's boxing scene only recently begun recognizing the IBF and WBO as "legitimate" world titles, meaning that they will now sanction fights with such belts on the line.
Where the commission draws the line is recognizing interim champions.
Eto is now one of three fighters recognized by the WBA as a flyweight titlist. Juan Francisco Estrada is regarded as the super champion (and also a unified champ), having just defended his belts against previously unbeaten Milan Melindo last weekend in Macau. Juan Carlos Reveco is the 'regular' champ, having just fought and won last month in his native Argentina.
If Eto is to follow suit and parade as a champion, he will have to fight on the road in order to defend the trinket. Otherwise, his options will be to either vacate the belt or simply fight in non-title capacity at home in Japan - which, of course, would most likely result in his being stripped of the title anyway.
Alphabet madness aside, the win is still the biggest of Eto's career. The 25-year old improves to 14-2 (10KO), having now won three straight.
Porpramook falls to 50-5 (35KO). The loss is his first in his native Thailand since 2002, with other losses in between having taken place in Australia and Mexico.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.