Panya Pradabsri Surprises Wanheng Menayothin To Capture WBC Title
In what has to be considered a major upset, Panya Pradabsri (35-1, 22 KOs) defeated long-reigning and previously unbeaten Wanheng Menayothin (54-1, 18 KOs) by unanimous decision to win the WBC World Minimumweight title.
From the opening bell, this bout was fought at a very brisk pace. Pradabsri was landing with his fair share of punches, particularly with the right hand up top. However, the defending champion adjusted in rounds three and four as he used his jab and footwork to find a home for some big shots.
When Menayothin was on the outside, he used his skills to make the challenger miss, then landed with counters. When fighting on the front foot, the 35-year-old used his hand speed to his advantage on the inside.
FIGHTING FROM BEHIND
The WBC has a rule where open scoring can be used with the option of announcing the judge’s scorecards after every four rounds. That scoring system was used for this bout. After four rounds, it was the challenger who was ahead by two points on two of the judge’s scorecards. The third judge had the fight even.
Now knowing he was behind, Menayothin upped the aggression in the middle rounds. He was dominant in rounds six and seven as he unleashed a bombardment of punches to the head and body.
When the scores were announced after round eight, the challenger was this time leading on all three scorecards. You could sense at this point that something was brewing.
Menayothin was fighting with desperation at this point. He was getting the better of the action in the championship rounds, consistently finding a home for his power-shots. But to Pradabsri’s credit, he took them well and fought back each time he got hit.
WAS THIS THE CORRECT DECISION?
Despite the fight going the challenger’s way on the scorecards, watching the fight live, this reporter believes that Menayothin deserved the verdict. After a highly competitive and close first four rounds, the now former champ seemed to dominate the second half of the fight and did enough to earn the win.
This has been a nightmarish year for Menayothin. On June 21 he announced his retirement from the sport, only to have a change of heart a day later. Rumors persisted the decision from Menayothin to carry on was due to pressure from his manager and promoters.
Now with this surprising loss, could we see the long-time champ call it a day and retire for good? Only time will tell if this is indeed his last curtain call.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.