by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Randy “Razor” Petalcorin, looking sharp all night long, scored a unanimous twelve round decision over tough and rugged Thai challenger Samartlek Chaiyonggym who lived up to his promise to be aggressive and engaged Petalcorin in several terrific exchanges before a huge crowd at the Mandaluyong City Gym Saturday.
The 20 year old southpaw Petalcorin showed dazzling hand-speed and rapid-fire combinations but despite being dropped three times in the fight, Samartlek refused to quit and came charging back every time he was down on the canvas.
After a fairly even opening round when Petalcorin sized up his opponent, he opened up and caught him with a left uppercut in round two that snapped the Thai’s head back before dropping him in the third round with a series of left uppercuts and a cracking right hook.
A low blow by the challenger in the sixth round forced referee Ferdinand Estrella to give Petalcorin time to recover before the champion nailed Samartlek with a beautiful right counter in round seven.
Another perfectly-timed left uppercut dropped Samartlek who was almost sent crashing through the ropes in the eighth round but while the Thai was down a second time Estrella correctly ruled it a slip.
Petalcorin let his hands go in round nine and this time dropped Samartlek with a vicious right hook but each time he went down, the challenger got up quickly and grunted while going after the champion and trying to make a fight of it throwing some solid right hands and on one occasion stunned the champion.
After an even tenth round, Samartlek caught Petalcorin with a low blow for the second time in the fight in the eleventh round and as both fighters visibly tired in the debilitating heat and humidity Petalcorin found one last surge of energy to wind up with a blazing five punch combination in the dying seconds of the last round.
There was no doubt about the decision but the Thai challenger who was the first genuine boxer after a long line of tuk-tuk drivers masquerading as boxers, received a well-deserved round of applause from fights fans at the same venue where reigning pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao first made a name for himself in the mid 1990s.
All three judges had Petalcorin a comfortable winner with Ver Abainza scoring it 119-106, Gil Co 118-107 and Thai judge Chalerm Prayadsab turning in a 116-109 scorecard.
In a post fight interview with BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard, Petalcorin said the Thai was “very tough and resilient and although I got a little tired towards the end I recovered quickly.”
Petalcorin said that every time he dropped the Thai “he seemed to get back stronger. I don’t know what he ate.”
American trainer Rich Staheli who also trained Pacquiao when he won his first world title said “The Thai is definitely tough. Every time he got up after a knockdown he said ‘now you woke me up, its time to fight. He did some of his best work after he got knocked down.”
Staheli said “we knew it was going to be tough and we thought it would probably go twelve rounds. But you cant go in there every time you knock him down and start throwing a 150 punches because you may not have anything left and Randy did tire a little bit in the last couple of rounds.”
The trainer said "With the heat, the lights and the crowd it was a grueling fight but I thought if Randy went to the body a little bit more he might have softened him up and got him out of there.”
Staheli said the fight was “a good test for Randy and the Thai came to fight which made it crowd- pleasing.” He said “you like to get the knockout but the knockout for me would have been nice in the twelfth round.”
The trainer said Petalcorin in his view “ needs a couple of more fights and needs to continue to progress. He is only 20 years old.”
An enthusiastic and overjoyed Petalcorin said he is ready to fight for the WBA world title if given the chance but his manager, well-known Australian promoter and popular TV boxing show host Peter Maniatis who handles the youngster along with JC Mananquil said he is “looking at another title defense for Petalcorin and then we can look for a world title shot against Alberto Rossel who is 34 years old.”
Maniatis said “it was a fantastic performance by Randy Petalcorin. He had the Thai down early and I thought the fight wouldn’t go too long but credit to the Thai he was tough because Randy hit him not only with strong shots to the head but body shots as well. Tonight I thought we saw a new star in Philippine boxing. He went in and let those punches go, five, six-punch combinations. He’s got the goods. Petalcorin got twelve first class rounds under his belt and he’ll be better for his next fight. ”
Maniatis is planning “another title defense and then we can look for a world title shot. He mentioned Alberto Rossel (28-3, 13 KO’s) the WBA Interim champion who won the title with a twelve round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Jose Alfredo Rodriguez (28-0, 17 KO’s) last April 14 in Peru.
Maniatis said “Rossel is tough but he’s 34 years old and I think Randy can beat him.”