By Carlos Costa
Thailand's WBC minimumweight world champion Wanheng Menayothin (49-0, 17 KO's), the man pursuing Floyd Mayweather's undefeated 50-0 record, is set to make his 9th world title defense this coming May 2 when he battles mandatory challenger Leroy "El Sensacional" Estrada (16-2, 6 KO's) of Panama.
The Menayothin vs Estrada fight will take place at a venue in front of the City Hall in Khorat, Nakhon Ratchasima, 250 Km northeast of Thailand's capital, Bangkok.
The 32 year-old Menayothin (whose legal name is Chayaphol Moonsri),captured his WBC world title by stopping then champion Mexican Oswaldo "El Gallito" Novoa (14-8-3, 9 KO's) in Chonburi, Thailand, in November of 2014.
In his last fight, Menayothin, a college graduate with a BA degree from Thailand's Bangkokthonburi University - defended his green and gold belt by outpointing Japanese Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-6-6, 7 KO's) last November in Nakhon Ratchasima; and his new target is Estrada.
The Panamanian challenger, meanwhile, won the right to face Menayothin by outpointing Mexican Saúl Juárez (24-8-1, 13 KO's) in a 12-rounder WBC 105 eliminator in May of last year in Panama.
Estrada, 23, who turned pro at age 16, is scheduled to arrive in the Kingdom of Thailand in a Lufthansa flight in the afternoon of April 25, together with his team led by his manager Melchor Herrera Espinoza. It will be the southpaw's first venture outside of his native Panama.
In his homeland, Estrada trains at a boxing gym in Anton as well as at the Pedro "Roquero" Alcazar Gym in Curundú under the guidance of his experienced head coach Celso Chávez, 58, and assistant coaches Enrique "Papi" Torres, 47, and Vladimir "Cuchito" Branda.
Head coach Celso Chávez is one of Panama's top coaches who has been a winner of the "Trainer of the Year" award by the Panama Boxing Commission.
On the other hand, Menayothin as usual prepares for his fights with his head coach Supap Boonrawd, 54, having at his disposal the facilities of Diamond Boxing Gym.
A former Muay Thai combatant who began fighting training at the tender age of 12, Wangheng Menayothin is today one of Thailand's three world champions together with WBA 105 world champ Thammanoon Niyomtronand (17-0, 7 KO's), and Chocolatito's conqueror WBC 115 king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40 KO's).
World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman fully supports Menayothin in his quest to match Mayweather's record.
"Unfortunately, the smaller weights have a very limited market. He is a national idol in Thailand and also in Asia, but on May 2 he can do something historic. The 50-0 record is something that comes from Rocky Marciano [who retired at 49-0] and an icon of this concept was created," Sulaiman said.
The Menayothin vs Estrada WBC Minimumweight World Title fight on May 2 is a production of Diamond Boxing of veteran Thai boxing promoter Mr. Virat Vachirarattanawong.
The author Carlos Costa is a Cebu-based boxing reporter and photographer. Carlos will attend the Menayothin-Estrada fight May 2 in Thailand. He can be reached at [email protected] and cellphone number +639184538152.