By James Goyder
Reigning WBC 105 lbs champion Wanheng Meenayothin met undefeated Filipino challenger Melvin Jerusalem in Phitsanulok this afternoon (local time) and the fight could not have been any closer with a controversial point deduction ultimately handing victory to the Thai.
It was a close fight but the outcome ultimately hung on the moment in round eight when referee Celestino Ruiz elected to deduct a point from Jerusalem for a low blow. The punch was clearly well below the waistline and he had issued the Filipino a similar warning much earlier in the fight but it still seemed a little harsh.
Moments later the WBC's open scoring system revealed cards which read 77-74 (x 2) and 78-74 in favour of the Thai who cruised through the final four rounds knowing that the fight was as good as won.
It was an anticlimactic end to a bout which had begun in much more entertaining fashion.
In the opening round Jerusalem landed a left hand which was at least partially blocked by the champion's glove but still sent him stumbling backwards. The second stanza saw more good work coming from the 22 year old who was also warned for a low blow.
Unfortunately for the Filipino he lost momentum in the third and fourth rounds with Wanheng able to make the fight much more attritional. Clinching and holding began to feature more prominently than it had during the first six minutes with Jerusalem struggling to find enough space to put together his combinations.
Going into the fifth the judges all had the fight even and Jerusalem scored with some jabs early on but Wanheng was able to get more work done on the inside. The sixth saw the champion on the front foot but the challenger was able to keep him at bay with bursts of punches, although he did eat a hard right hook right on the bell.
The seventh was less eventful although Wanheng was moving forwards more but the real drama would come in the following round. Wanheng landed a one two at the start of the eighth which snapped Jerusalem's head back and the Filipino answered with a left hook downstairs.
Given that the sole warning he had received for low blows came much earlier in the fight it was a surprise when the referee issued the point deduction although replays showed the foul was a blatant one. Jerusalem started to lead with the right hand in the ninth but seemed to lack the stamina to really take the fight to Wanheng.
In the eleventh Jerusalem landed a series of straight right hands to the body but Wanheng answered with a right hook in the final few seconds. The 11th saw a lot of infighting with the Filipino appearing to slightly get the better of it, landing some hard body shots and a solid left upstairs.
In the final round Wanheng appeared more tentative and was content to paw with the jab while the challenger looked to unload with power shots which were mostly blocked. Jerusalem finished the fight with a wild combination but the punches fell well short and it was the Thai corner which celebrated the sound of the bell.
The scorecards read 114-113 (x 2) and 115 -113 in favour of the Thai who improves to 45-0 and successfully defends hisWBC 105 lbs belt for the sixth time. Jerusalem drops to 11-1 after suffering the first defeat of his career.
Article originally appeared on The Fight Nation.