by James Goyder
Unbeaten Thai welterweight Teerachai Kratingdaenggym retained his PABA 147 lbs title in Bangkok this afternoon but he had to survive a sixth round knockdown to get past determined Uzbek challenger Behzod Nabiev.
For the first two rounds Teerachai controlled the action firing away with jabs which consistently connected with the face of Nabiev. The Uzbek fighter responded by changing his strategy and started to press forwards and close the range which neutralized the straight punches of the champion and made for some closer rounds.
Teerachai was clearly much less comfortable working on the inside than he had been staying behind the jab but still held his own in rounds which contained more clinching than clean punches, until he was floored with a wild left hook in the sixth which left him flat on his back on the floor.
The punch appeared to take Teerachai by surprise as the fighters were moving away from each other when it landed. Initially it looked like he could be out cold but he got to his feet and seemed to have have regained his senses sufficiently once the fight restarted to stay out of trouble until the end of the round.
It could have been a turning point in the fight but Nabiev was unable to consolidate on his good work in the sixth as Teerachai picked him apart with the jab and started to find a home for the straight right follow up. Another wild left hook from the Uzbek landed clean in the seventh but this time the champion wore it well.
Rounds eight and nine followed the same pattern with Nabiev holding his own whenever he managed to close Teerachai down and go to work on the inside but finding himself constantly on the receiving end of jabs and crosses when the Thai fighter was able to maintain the range.
In round ten Nabiev was wobbled for the first time in the fight when a one-two combination from Teerachai sent him stumbling back but he never looked like going down and again succeeded in neutralizing the Thai fighters straight punches by pressing forwards and instigating close range exchanges.
In the 11th Nabiev went looking for another knockdown with more wild hooks but this time Teerachai saw them coming and countered with a solid straight right hand. The Uzbek probably knew he was behind and started charging forwards in the final round, more often than not ending up in his opponent's arms.
Nabiev was gesticulating to the referee and roaring with frustration, perhaps feeling that Teerachai was being allowed to get away with grabbing him too frequently, but he let his emotions get the better of him by blatantly throwing a punch on the break, leading to a point deduction which effectively ended what little chance he might have had of winning a decision.
The judges scored the fight 116-112, 115-110 and 116-112 to Teerachai who retains his PABA 147 bs title and moves up to 20-0 while Nabiev drops to 21-5-1 after suffering his third straight loss. The Thai fighter, who was knocked down for the first time in his boxing career, has plenty to work on if he wants to go from being a regional champion to challenging for an actual world title but his perfect professional record remains intact.