By Kittipong Thongsombat
Thailand's Stamp Kiatniwat will enter the ring as the underdog when he takes on WBA flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka of Japan on New Year's Eve.
The 18-year-old Thai challenger left for Osaka, Japan yesterday in the hope of snatching the 112-pound belt from Ioka in the mandatory fight.
Stamp's manager Taweesin Laosuwanwat said his boxer, who is the interim champion at 112-pounds, was four pounds over the limit but would not have any problems in shedding the excess weight in time for the bout.
The biggest concern for Taweesin is Stamp's lack of experience.
"I admit that at the age of 18, Stamp is less experienced than Ioka," he said. "And I am sure that Ioka's punches are more powerful as well."
Asked about Stamp's chances of taking home the belt, Taweesin said: "It will be 60-40 in favour of the Japanese."
Stamp, who has trained for three months for the fight, successfully defended his interim WBA flyweight title with a majority decision over Gregorio Lebron of the Dominican Republic in Bangkok in February.
The 27-year-old Ioka will be a much tougher opponent for the teenage Thai. The Japanese's only loss in his professional career was against Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng in May 2014.
Ioka won the title from Juan Carlos Revoco of Argentina in April last year and has successfully defended it three times so far. In his third title defence in July, he stopped Keyvin Lara of Nicaragua in the 11th round in Japan.
Ioka won three world titles before moving up to the flyweight class. He took the WBC minimumweight belt in November 2011, claimed the WBA minimumweight title in June 2012 and six months later, landed the WBA light-flyweight crown.
Stamp is the second fighter from Galaxy Boxing Camp to vie for a world title in recent months. In October, Nop Kratingdaenggym was stopped by WBA super-bantamweight champion Nehomar Cermeno in China.
Meanwhile, unbeaten Wanheng Menayothin is set to defend his WBC minimumweight title for the sixth time in Phitsanulok on Jan 25.
His opponent is expected to be ninth-ranked contender Melvin Jerusalem of the Philippines.
The 25-year-old from Maha Sarakham successfully defended his title for the fifth time in August when he took a unanimous win over Mexico's Saul Juarez in a mandatory fight in Chon Buri.