Wanheng Meenayothin put in a disciplined and at times slightly defensive performance to defeat Saul Juarez in Chonburi this afternoon. The Thai was able to comfortably outpoint the Mexican challenger despite a relatively modest punch output.
The first three rounds were uneventful with Wanheng seizing the centre of the ring but throwing very few punches. Juarez was able to score with some left hooks to the body but the champion picked up the pace in the fourth, walking his opponent down and landing a couple of left hooks and a solid straight right.
The Mexican would have been disappointed to discover that none one of the judges had him ahead after the first four rounds with two scorecards reading 38-38 and the other 39-38 in Wanheng's favour. There was more good action in the fifth with Juarez eating a series of hard right hands.
In the sixth stanza a left hook from Wanheng was answered by a left to the body from Juarez with the action slowing towards the end of the round. The Thai started to use more straight punches in the seventh and snapped his opponents head back with a series of jabs before landing a solid right cross.
Wanheng was pumping out the jab at the start of the eighth as Juarez answered with a left hand to the boy. Another solid right hand from the champion found its mark as he backed his opponent into the corner but was unable to capitalize by landing any solid shots.
Juarez was constantly looking for chinks in the champion's armour but struggled to pierce Wanheng's defences with the Thai keeping a high guard and rarely committing to more than two punches at a time. After eight rounds the judges all voted in favour of the hometown fighter with margins of 78-75, 78-74 and 77-75.
Having been reassured by the open scoring Wanheng came out more defensively in the ninth with Juarez looking to land one-two combinations. Despite his economical output the Thai still landed the most eye catching shots of the round, snapping his opponent's head back with a couple of stiff jabs.
Juarez knew he probably needed a stoppage going into the tenth and stepped up the pace but again struggled to breach Wanheng's defences and was briefly wobbled by an overhand right from very short range. The last two rounds were comparatively uneventful as the Mexican didn't look capable of doing the sort of damage needed to turn the fight around
It was a slightly conservative performance from Wanheng who seemed very content to win by decision and never really went looking for the knockout. The scorecards read 115-113, 116-112 and 116-113 in the Thai's favour but, largely thanks to the open scoring, this didn't feel like a particularly close fight.
The win takes Meenayothin to 43-0 and was the fifth successful defence of the WBC 105 lbs belt he won in 2014. Juarez drops to 23-5-1 after losing for the first time since 2014, when he suffered a much more controversial decision defeat at the hands of Milan Melindo.
Earlier in the afternoon Singsayan CP Freshmart (3-0) beat Jin Danchung (0-1) after ten rounds to win the vacant WBC Youth 115 lbs title. The scorecards read 99-91, 96-94, 96-94 in favour of the Thai fighter who was pushed all the way by his unheralded Chinese opponent.
This article originally appeared on The Fight Nation.