By James Goyder
Two of Thailand’s top light flyweights went head to head in Bangkok on Saturday in a fight that produced non stop fireworks. Kompayak Por Pramuk and Pongsaklek Sithdabnij went toe to toe for the entire 12 rounds with the former coming out on top courtesy of a split decision.
Pongsaklek is ten years the junior of Kompayak and is an extremely active fighter who also happened to have Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and his award winning training in the corner. By contrast his opponent hadn’t boxed in over a year and had his wife holding mitts in the warm up.
The fight got off to a fast start when Pongsaklek neglected the traditional glove touch in favour of a combination of punches. Kompayak was unfazed and looked to slow his opponent down with jabs to the body and head.
At the start of the second round Kompayak landed a hard right hand from close quarters. Pongsaklek was able to use his footwork to stay away from further trouble but eventually the veteran trapped him against the ropes which sparked a furious exchange of hooks and uppercuts.
The action continued until the end of the round and Kompayak made a fast start to the third, connecting with a hard left hook. Once again he trapped Pongsaklek against the ropes where they both threw heavy leather before exchanging upper cuts in the middle of the ring.
The start of the fourth saw Kompayak starting to jab more while Pongsaklek scored with hooks to the body followed by a couple of left uppercuts upstairs which found their mark. The former world champion connected with a hard right towards the end of the round but was tagged with a left right on the bell.
At the end of the fourth Kompayak was ahead 39-37 on one of the cards while the other two had both winning two rounds each. But the momentum in the fifth round was all with Pongsaklek as his opponent resorted to hugging and holding in an attempt to buy time.
In the sixth Pongsaklek continued to be the aggressor and with Kompayak trapped against the ropes he started to bang away to the body. This time the 35 year old decided to fight fire with fire and the two men traded punches at close quarters once again.
The momentum was with Pongsaklek throughout the seventh and eighth rounds but whenever Kompayak decided to fight back he was able to connect cleanly. By this stage the younger man was starting to pull away on the scorecards and all three judges had him up by two rounds.
Kompayak presumably went into the ninth knowing he couldn’t afford to lose any more rounds and the tide started to turn in his favour. Pongaklek was still on the front foot but couldn’t come forwards without walking into a jab or straight right hand.
Kompayak’s accuracy was the story of the tenth too which set up the fight for a grandslam finish, with the bout potentially dead even on the scorecards going into the championship rounds. Pongsaklek was the aggressor again in the 11th as he kept walking his opponent down.
With Kompayak briefly trapped against the ropes came the moment that would settle the entire fight. A perfectly timed right hand from the veteran dropped the younger man hard, he was given a count and looked hurt but his legs were strong enough to see out the round.
It left Pongsalek knowing he would likely need at least a knockdown to win the fight and he came out swinging at the start of the 12th. Kompayak began to bob and weave but when an opening presented itself he scored with another right hand and then followed up with some offence of his own.
The fight finished in a frenzy of wrestling and punching as Pongsaklek looked to launch one last desperate attack. For once the open scoring actually added to the suspense because fans knew that the fight was so close on the cards that the 11th rounds knockdown would likely prove crucial.
That proved to be the case with Kompayak prevailing by split decision. The scorecards read 115-114, 115-113 and 113-114 with two of the three judges seeing the fight in favour of the former champion who improves to 59-5 with this win.
Pongsaklek drops to 15-5-1 but he looks set to get another chance to fight Kompayak with a rematch already in the works. Kompayak wins the WBC Asia 108lbs title and this was also a victory for Nakorn Luang Promotions who decided to throw two top Thai boxers in together and were rewarded with a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender.
Also on the card undefeated Thai welterweight Nick Frese (8-0) won a hard fought decision over Japanese journeyman Daichi Yoshikawa (8-6)