By Jake Donovan
Amnat Ruenroeng scored the fifth defense of his flyweight title, dominaing Japan's Myung Ho Lee over 12 rounds
Monday afternoon in Hua Hin, Thailand.
Scores were 117-109 (twice) and 118-108.
The bout was more entertaining than several recent offerings from Ruenroeng, though that's not to say the session came without its fair share of frustration. Still, Lee came to fight - as overmatched as he was - which forced a fast pace in the early rounds.
Ruenroeng managed to remain in control for the most part, but was met with heavy artillery in round two. He fended off the incoming, returning with power punches of his own in discovering that he could hurt his challenger virtually at will.
Lee was hurt in round four by a left hook and right hand, but Ruenroeng has never boasted the finishing skills or instinct to provide a sufficient follow-up attack. He continued to add to his lead, but at no point broke the challenger's spirit.
After an entertaining first half of the fight, the back six saw sloppy action as well as far more interaction from referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. than fans (and referees) would like to be the case.
With your standard Ruenroeng title fight comes frequent clinching and the occasional takedown. Plenty of both happened late in the fight, but Ramirez Sr. only disciplined Ruenroeng for holding, taking a point in round nine.
Lee proceeded to have a decent round 10 despite being blatantly tackled to the canvas. Ramirez stood over the fallen fighters as the sequence developed, but did nothing other than rule a slip as to inform the judges to not score it as a knockdown.
Ruenroeng had two more takedowns in round 11, both of which went undisciplined as did his continued clinching. When he wasn't holding or pushing his opponent to the canvas, the defending champion offered brilliant displays of boxing. Lateral movement and ring generalship have been the highlights of a title reign now going on two years.
A rare power surge came in the 12th and final round, though perhaps aided by a slick canvas. A right hand shot from Ruenroeng managed to force Lee to lose his footing and eventually hit the deck for the bout's lone official knockdown. Replays showed that Lee slipped on a wet spot on the mat prior to going down, but was ruled a knockdown as a boxing move (the right hand that landed) took place.
It mattered little in the grand scheme of things, as Ruenroeng had built a massive lead to that point. It was a brave offering from the visiting challenger, but a loss nevertheless as he falls to 19-5-1 (6KOs) after falling well short in his first attempt at a major title.
As for Ruenroeng, the unbeaten Thai - who turns 36 later this month - continues to plead his case as the best flyweight in the world not named Roman Gonzalez.
There's no shame in such a status, as Gonzalez is regarded by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. As the unbeaten World flyweight champion from Nicaragua is now a regular in the HBO rotation, he will need credible opponents in order to remain active on the American cable giant.
Ruenroeng could find himself in that mix, even if such a fight is better suited for Asia, as Gonzalez frequently fights in Japan. In the meantime, he continues to rack up wins and title defenses. The latest runs his record to 17-0 (5KOs), capping a three-win year that also including the dismantling (if not exposing) of two-time Olympic Gold medalist Shiming Zou.
On the uglier side of his career, the year that was for Ruenroeng also included a controversial 12-round win over John Riel Casimero this past June. The decision itself wasn't off-base, but the fact that it made it to the scorecards only spoke volumes of the horrible performance turned in by faded referee Larry Doggett. Ruenroeng was given a free pass for the most part after numerous fouls in an utterly unwatchable affair.
Those types of nights have been mixed in with the fun moments, but also makes him a network risk in terms of putting him on a major outlet such as HBO. Until a fight with Gonzalez materializes or is even aggressively discussed, he continues to make good money fighting at hom, where he remains most appreciated.
Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. has now won two straight after scoring a six-round decision win over Boy Tanto. It was easy work for the 22-year old Thai contender, who continues to be a tough out for anyone just below the world class level.
In Tanto (9-18, 1KO) he had a made to order opponent from Indonesia, essentially performing target practice in a fight that did little more than mark time. Sakkreerin Jr. improves to 29-4-1 (15KOs) in his second fight back after a spirited showing in a technical decision title fight loss to Katsunari Takayama this past April.
Mike Tawatchai continues to rebuild towards title contention, outpointing Indonesia's Galih Susanto in their 12 round super bantamweight bout.
It was a solid performance by Tawatchi, who is two fights removed from a disappointing showing versus Shingo Wake in a title elimination bout this past June, fighting for the second time since that loss.
There was never the threat of a loss versus Susanto (10-6-1, 1KO), who offered a decent account of himsef in his first career fight outside of Indonesia. However, he never managed to maintain momentum for very long. The threat of a knockout or an upset never emerged, as Tawatchai was able to pikc up his second straight win. The super bantamweight contender from Bangkok moves to 36-8-1 (21KOs).
Manus Boonjumnong managed his first career knockout win after stopping Indonesia's Jonatan Simamora in one round.
The bout was never competitive, with Simamora (23-27-5, 8KOs) throwing apologetic punches before covering up for dear life at the mere threat of return fire. It turned out to be easy work for Boonjumnong, who was grossly out of shape but just needed to land enough right hands to force his overmatched foe to surrender.
One last right hand shot prompted Simamora to hit the deck, taking the full ten count as Boonjumnong advances to 3-0 (1KO). His pro debut came in June, on the undercard of Ruenroeng's 12-round win over John Riel Casimero in his previous title defense.
The show airs live on Thairath TV in Thailand.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox