By Jake Donovan
Thammanoon "Knockout CP Freshmart" Niyomtrong outpointed Carlos Buitrago for the second time in as many tries, this time around scoring a more dominant decision win in their strawweight title fight rematch Thursday afternoon in Bangkok, Thailand.
Scores were 117-111 (twice) and 119-109 in favor of Niyomtrong, who converts his World Boxing Association (WBA) interim title into the "regular" version.
The first fight saw competitive action early on give way to a dominant Niyomtrong stretch midway through before Buitrago offered a late rally that needed to happen just a couple of rounds sooner. A similar pattern played out in the rematch, only Niyomtrong was seized control earlier and didn't allow his familiar foe back into the late until it was far too out of reach.
Buitrago - now fighting on the road in each of his last five starts - began the fight hoping to pick up exactly where he left off when they last met in their Oct. '14 interim title fight. The diminutive slugger from Nicaragua came out swinging, attempting to catch Niyomtrong off guard. It worked to a degree, but also proving to be a poor pace strategy, particularly for a fight in an outdoor venue with temperatures reaching 90 degrees.
Niyomtrong shook off the opening surge, seizing control in round two and really never looking back. Buitrago was competitive in spots, at time effective with his body punches, but was severely outworked for the most part as he struggled to contend with Niyomtrong's effective stick-and-move strategy.
The difference in the first fight was the work put in by Niyomtrong in the middle rounds. In this particular case, it turned a close but clear fight through four rounds into a rout.
Buitrago's best moments came from singular punches, whereas Niyomtrong grew stronger and more dominant with each passing round. The visiting challenger was nearly doubled over from a body shot in round eight and completely out of sorts as the fight crept into the championship rounds.
As was the case 16 months ago, Niyomtrong showed signs of fatigue late in the fight. It was more understandable this time around, given his level of dominance as well as the brutal heat in which the boxers were forced to compete. Whether it was confidence of being way up on the scorecards or simply having nothing left, the unbeaten 25-year old took his chances and coasted down the stretch.
The tactic allowed Buitrago one last shot at a miraculous turnaround. He nearly did so the last time they met. with Niyomtrong badly shook late in the fight but able to prevail by a narrow margin. This time, the defending (and now upgraded) titlist merely lost rounds - even at that, only on two of the three scorecards - at a point where it didn't matter.
It gave Buitrago the satisfaction of not being virtually shut out on all three scorecards, but still results in his second loss to his Thai rival. The 24-year old brings a record of 28-2-1 (16KOs) back home to Nicaragua - where he hasn't fought since 2013, when he officially became a top contender in the strawweight division.
Niyomtrong, on the other hand, has enjoyed the luxury of having spent his entire - though young - career at home in Thailand. The latest win sees his record improve to 12-0 (6KOs), officially cashing in his interim title for the regular version of the WBA strawweight title.
The declaration was the latest in an effort by the sanctioning body to minimize the number of champions it has created over the years. As such. Niyomtrong's win puts him in line for a future showdown with Hekkie Budler, who first has to get past Byron Rojas in mid-March.
In the chief support, former strawweight titlist Oleydong Sithsamerchai cruised to a six-round decision over a grossly outgunned Boido Simanjuntak, a 31-year old from Indonesia who has now lost 18 in a row dating back to Dec. '12.
Sithsamerchai sees his record move to 59-1-1 (23KOs). His lone loss came to Kazuto Ioka, who became a world champion in just his 7th pro fight in knocking out the Thai southpaw in the 5th round of their Feb. '11 strawweight title fight. Sithsamercha has since claimed 24 consecutive wins against hopeless opposition while now campaigning as a super flyweight.
The show aired live on Channel 7 in Thailand, also legally streaming live on its website.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox