By Jake Donovan
The improbable title run of Oswaldo Novoa will now come with a career-high payday. All he has to do is once again travel overseas to his opponent's backyard.
Novoa's forthcoming title defense versus unbeaten Wanheng Menayothin is confirmed to land in Thailand thanks to a generous winning purse bid. Famed Thai promoter Virat Vachirarattanawong submitted a whopping $173,000 to land the strawweight title fight, which will take place on a yet-to-be-confirmed September date in Thailand.
Traditionally the winning purse bid results in a 75/25 split in favor of the champion. Novoa could stand to make as much as 80% - or more than $138,000 - with the extra 5% the result of having to travel to the challenger's home country.
The bout marks the second defense of the belt Novoa (14-4-1, 9KOs) scored in a massive upset earlier this year, dethroning Xiong Zhao Zhong in a 5th round stoppage this past March in China. The feat ended the reign of China's first-ever major champion, coming against a fighter who suffered all four of his losses in a five-fight stretch in having limped out to a 7-4-1 start to his career.
Novoa has won seven straight, the latest taking place in a homecoming this past June when he scored an 8th round stoppage of Alcides Martinez in Mexico. The win over Zhao Zhong marked the current titlist's first trip outside of his home country, though he now travels to Asia for the second time in six months.
Menayothin (35-0, 11KOs) has spent his entire career in Thailand, though for good reason judging by his promoter's purse bid. The unbeaten mandatory challenger has kept busy while awaiting his title fight opportunity, scoring three wins in 2014, though all coming against non-descript opposition.
The bout will most likely air on Thailand Channel 7, on which Menayothin has often appeared. No word yet on whether or not the fight will be picked up by Mexican television, though such arrangements would most likely have to come via delayed offering given the time difference.
The news is the latest in an uplifting trend for boxing's oft-forgotten division. This weekend boasts just the 5th unification bout in the history of the strawweight division, when Katsunari Takayama returns to Mexico - where his title reign first began last October - to defend against fellow titlist Francisco Rodriguez Jr.
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.