By Jake Donovan
Oswaldo Novoa and Wanheng Menayothin both made weight for their scheduled strawweight title fight Thursday afternoon in Bangkok, Thailand. However, there remains a question of whether or not they will fight—at least in the ring.
The two camps—though not necessarily the fighters themselves—are bickering over what brand of gloves will be permitted to wear. Both fighters are partial to the brands made in their respective home countries—Novoa is riding with Mexico-based Cleto Reyes, while Menayothin proudly represents Thailand’s Twins Boxing Gloves.
Representatives from Novoa’s camp insist that the fight will go on, though resolution has yet to be reached. There exists a touchy situation from a financial perspective; Twins Boxing Gloves is a major sponsor for Menayothin’s fights—including Thursday’s showdown, which marks the unbeaten strawweight’s first bid at a major title.
Novoa (14-4-1, 9KOs) will make the second defense of his strawweight title. The bout marks just the second time in his career Novoa will fight outside of his native Mexico. The resurgent journeyman became an unlikely success story, boldly marching to China where he unseated Xiong Zhao Zhong this past February.
The title-lifting effort came three days after his 32nd birthday, with the 5th round knockout win serving as by far the defining moment of an otherwise ordinary career.
Novoa’s most recent ring appearance came in June, forcing Alcides Martinez to retire on his stool after eight rounds in a triumphant homecoming. Overall, Novoa—who fights under the Canelo Promotions banner—has won seven straight, including five in a row by knockout.
Menayothin (35-0, 11KOs) is a considerable favorite to win the title, enough to where his promoter put up a $173,000 winning purse bid to sway Novoa to travel halfway around the world. The 29-year old has been fighting scheduled 10-and-12round bouts since his third pro fight, also coming with a background in Muay Thai boxing.
While the muscular challenger looks the part, Menayothin’s résumé lacks a mind-blowing win that definitively suggests the substance matches the hype. It’s hardly an indictment, however; Menayothin previously pursued showdowns with Zhao Zhong and Denver Cuello, though forced to engage in a series of stay-busy fights before landing the showdown with Novoa.
The bout will air live on Thailand Channel 7—assuming all lingering issues are resolved by Thursday.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox