By Joe Koizumi
WBA super-bantam champ Poonsawat Kratingdaeng-gym (40-1, 28 KOs), 122, Thailand, continually showed his persistent attack in the close range, displayed his abundant stamina and pounded out a majority but well-received decision over previously unbeaten Satoshi “Bazooka” Hosono (16-1, 12 KOs), 122, over twelve see-saw rounds on Monday in Tokyo, Japan.
The official tallies were as follows: Tom Miller (US) 115-113, Michael Lee (Korea) 117-113, both for the champ, and Raul Caiz Sr. (US) 114-114. The referee was Rafael Ramos (US).
It looked like a couple of tiny bulls kept swapping punches from the outset to the end. But it was the more aggressive and energetic champ that dominated a bit more rounds by slight margins in a close affair. Poonsawat, three years his senior at 29, showed his experience and ring-craft in connecting with short left hooks and right uppercuts to the face with better precision than Hosono.
As well reputed, the Thailander was a good fighter. He fought like Timothy Bradley—quick, sharp, busy and clever, if not so hard-hitting. Hosono, a legitimate featherweight who moved down to the 122-pound category, had been expected to utilize his physical power against the shorter 5’4” champ, but Poonsawat so positively mixed it up that Hosono was often overpowered in the close quarter.
Hosono, ex-OPBF fearher champ, made a good start as he connected with solid uppercuts to the willing mixer in the opening session. But Poonsawat, the two-class WBA ruler, displayed incessant combinations to have Hosono occasionally on the defensive in the close quarter. Regardless of a clear or slight margin, the champ was in command in the second through eighth sessions. He also revealed his iron chin, as he withstood Hosono’s vaunted left hook and retaliated with busier combos in round four.
Hosono showed his best in the ninth, when he displayed his boxing ability in jabbing, moving and scoring with good left-right combinations to win a point. It was only in a single round that Hosono showed such a good form, as he returned to his usual bull-fight style to battle toe-to-toe and yield to the champ’s aggressiveness.
Hosono’s right-hand pain from the eighth on, as it was disclosed after the bout, might account for his disappointed lack of action in later rounds. Poonsawat, despite his shorter height and reach, kept throwing better and busier jabs to have Hosono bleeding slightly from the nostrils. Poonsawat was in command almost throughout the contest except in rounds one, nine and twelve.
In the final session Hosono desperately attacked the fading champ and might manage to win a point, which, however, wasn’t enough to overcome his deficits on points in earlier rounds.
Of course, this is a second-guessing, but Hosono should have boxed more against the shorter fighting machine with tight defense. It might be Hosono’s strategic mistake that he had firmly believed he would be able to overpower the physically smaller champ, who turned to be much more aggressive and energetic than expected. Hosono, a good boxer-puncher as well as a KO artist, might be too confident in overwhelming the champ, who actually overwhelmed Hosono with busier and more accurate combinations to the face and the midsection.
A TV commentator was WBC bantam champ Hozumi Hasegawa, to whom the winner and still champ Poonsawat said from the ring, “If you move up to my class, I’m willing to fight you.” It will be a very interesting matchmaking, if materialized.
Poonsawat unified the WBA 122-pound belts by annihilating Bernard Dunne in only three rounds in Ireland last September, and impressively scored his first defense since. He may come back to Japan soon, and will be a threat to any 122-pounders here, even including Hasegawa.
Japan’s Koji Kawamura (18-2-1, 6 KOs), 130, acquired the vacant OPBF 130-pound belt as he outslugged OPBF top ranked Korean champ Sungtae Kim (only 5-8-1, 2 KOs), 130, and finally brought him to a standstill with wicked body shots to prompt referee Silvestre Abainza’s intervention at 2:04 of the ninth session. This elimination bout took place because of former champ Takashi Uchiyama’s relinquishment.