By Jake Donovan
Wanheng Menayothin made the fourth successful defense of his strawweight title, stopping Japan's Go Odaira in five rounds Thursday afternoon in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
The unbeaten defending champ scored two knockdowns, dropping Odaira in round three and again in closing the show two rounds later.
When he was on his feet, Odaira actually offered a respectable account of himself, similar to the fight he put up against countryman Katsunari Takayama before suffering a knockout loss in their Dec. '14 title fight.
Menayothin was patient and methodical in his attack. Odaira took advantage of those little moments, shooting right jabs and straight lefts in attempt to catch a moving target. The shots did little to hinder the local favorite, but were enough to remind fans that the challenger came to fight and not just to lie down.
He eventually wouldn't have a choice on the latter, however.
The first of two knockdowns came late in round three. Menayothin went on the attack, scoring with head shots before a right hand forced his opponent to the canvas. Odaira bounced back up, perhaps out of necessity as referee Raymond Chang offered a rapid fire eight count before allowing action to continue.
Odaira made it to the bell and managed to slow the pace in round four. Menayothin was comfortable with just offering lateral movement, as he was still well in control of the fight.
The end came in round five when the champ went on the attack. A right uppercut and left hook had Odaira reeling, as he was finished off by a series of chopping right hands, the last of which sent him crashing to the canvas. No count was issued as the referee immediately halted the contest.
Menayothin improves to 41-0 (16KOs), while Odaira falls to 12-5-3 (1KO) after his second failed title bid.
The bout marked the fourth defense of the belt he won in Nov. '14 with a knockout win over Oswaldo Novoa. While a rematch is not in demand, it could very well be what comes next.
Novoa is in line for a March 19 rematch with Saul 'Baby' Juarez in Mexico. The bout is a sanctioned eliminator, something the two already tried to establish before a clash of heads left Novoa with a cut over his right eye less than a minute into the second round of their eliminator last December.
The winner of the upcoming sequel will become the mandatory challenger for Menayothin, although the bout boxing fans - at least those (of us) who care about the strawweight division - crave is a showdown with South Africa's Hekkie Budler.
Both have a case for claiming to be the best strawweight in their world, yet their careers continue to run parallel. Absent a head-on collision, all they can do is plead their case in separate title defenses, hence Menayothin's latest offering.
The bout aired live on Channel 7 in Thailand, also streaming live and legal on the network's website.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox