By Jake Donovan
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam made the fourth successful defense of his second tour as lineal flyweight champion in unspectacular fashion, as a clash of heads barely 45 seconds into his bout with Hirofumi Mukai of Japan resulted in a technical draw on Friday afternoon (local time) in Bangkok, Thailand.
Preceded by nearly 30 minutes of speeches, in ring advertisements and national anthems performed for Thailand and Japan, the title fight already carried a second-nature feel to it. The action itself validated that belief, as the southpaws were barely getting warmed up when an accidental headbutt left a cut along Mukai’s eyebrow.
The butt came about when Wonjongkam was leaning in to throw a left hand while Mukai was crouching down in a defensive posture. Time was immediately called as blood began to stream into his eye. The ringside physicians gave the Japanese novice a long hard look before declaring that the cut was too severe to allow the bout to continue.
Both fighters were gracious at the end of the aborted affair, though obviously disappointed that they didn’t get to share more than 45 seconds of ring space together.
The instance marks the second straight fight for Wonjongkam to be impacted by a headbutt. The 34-year old Thai legend was docked a point for leading with his head in an October title defense against Edgar Sosa.
His record now stands at 83-3-2 (44KO) after a defense that comes 17 years – nearly to the day - after his pro debut. The future Hall of Famer is now unbeaten in 20 straight fights, dating back to his original title fight loss to Daisuke Naito more than four years ago.
Mukai’s record now moves to 5-1-1 (0KO), having now gone two straight fights without a win in his young two-year pro career.
Wonjongkam’s first title run began in 2001, with a 1st round knockout of Malcolm Tunacao. Seventeen consecutive successful defenses would follow, which remains a divisional record unlikely to ever be broken. Included among the lot was the quickest knockout in flyweight title fight history when he blitzed Daisuke Naito of Japan in just 34 seconds.
The defense against Naito was the first of four fights they would share together. Wonjongkam scored a technical decision win in 2004, but Naito would enjoy the last laugh with an upset decision win over his old rival in 2007, putting an end to Wonjongkam’s title reign and 11-year, 56 fight win streak.
A draw in their fourth fight eight months later marked just the second time Wonjongkam failed to come out victorious in a title fight. A fifth fight was discussed but would never reach that point as Naito lost his crown to wildly popular countryman Koki Kameda in 2009, fighting just once more before announcing his retirement last year.
Revenge for Wonjongkam would have to come in beating the man who beat the man against whom he fell, scoring a majority decision over Kameda last March. An eye-popping nine wins have followed in that 21-month span, including four title defenses.
The brief evening with Mukai marks his quickest exit in a title fight since his aforementioned knockout over Naito.
On the eve of his 21st birthday, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthap (19-2, 10KO) treated himself to an early present in the form of his 13th straight win with a six-round unanimous decision over pro debuting Silapathep Lookmahathat.
The show aired live on Thailand Channel 7.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]