By Jake Donovan
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym has spent of his 50-fight career in his native Thailand. Most of the biggest moments through 11-plus years as a pro, however, have taken place on the road.
The former two-division titlist fights for the first time in the United States when he faces unbeaten Guillermo Rigondeaux this Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The bout serves as the co-feature to the 122 lb. championship between Nonito Donaire and Jorge Arce, with both fights airing live on HBO.
At stake in the co-feature is the very alphabet belt once worn by Kratingdaenggym, which in a sense brings things full circle in his clash with Rigondeaux (11-0, 8KO).
“Poonsawat is no stranger to me as an Irish man,” states Gary Hyde, lead manager for Rigondeaux and who hails from Ireland. “He came to Ireland in 2009 and knocked out Bernard Dunne.”
Kratingdaenggym (48-2, 33KO) didn’t win a single round on any of the three judges’ scorecards through two rounds, but refused to cave. The visiting Thai rallied hard in the third, busting open Dunne’s nose and dropping him three times in forcing a stoppage late in the round.
The bout was the lone attempted title defense for Dunne. His title win came six months prior against Ricardo Cordoba, a fighter familiar with both sides of Saturday’s co-feature.
Rigondeaux won the interim version of the belt he presently owns in a closely contested points win over Cordoba in Nov. ’10. More than five years prior, Kratingdaenggym won an equally narrow decision over the Panamanian to begin an interim bantamweigh title reign that ended 11 months later in his first road trip when he dropped a decision to Wladimir Sidirenko in Germany.
Overall, Kratingdaenggym is 2-2 on the road. His previous trips outside of Thailand both came in Japan, defending his 122 lb. belt with a majority decision over previously unbeaten Satoshi Hosono in Jan. ’10, two fights and nine months before losing to Ryol Li Lee.
Seven straight wins have since followed for the 32-year old, who hopes to make a lasting impression in his stateside debut.
“This is my first time in the United States,” Kratingdaenggym stated through a translator during Wednesday’s press conference in Houston. “It’s a very good opportunity and I will do my best to bring the championship back to Thailand.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox