By Carlos Costa
Far from the deadly violence of the streets of the capital Bangkok, this silent, dazzling green town of Maha Sarakham in the northeastern Isan region of Thailand will be scenario of today’s WBA super bantamweight world title fight between 29-year-old world champion Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (40-1, 28KOs) of Thailand and Japanese challenger Shoji Kimura (23-3-2, 9KOs).
Both fighters tipped the official scale at exactly 122 lbs during the weight-in ceremony at the Taksila Hotel in downtown Maha Sarakham. Then, fighters posed for the cameras and rules of the combat were read by WBA officials judges Francisco Martinez of New Zealand, Wan-Soo Yuh of South Korea and Sergio Caiz from California, USA. The referee in charge of the action will be New Zealand’s Ferlin Marsh.
In attendance was boxing hall of famer Khaosai Galaxy (49-1, 43KOs), one of the greatest KO artist of all time, who kindly shared “I think Poonsawat will win by KO, i know he can punch very hard and is very strong”.
Meanwhile, Kenji Minami of Hanagata Boxing Gym from Yokohama commented, “our fighter (Kimura) is well prepared and well trained, we came to Thailand to win!”
The 32-years-old Kimura, who has been japan’s super bantamweight champion and current WBA’s #10, is managed by former flyweight world champion Susumu Hanagata, while champion Poonsawat is handled by the one of Thailand’s top boxing personalities, Niwat Laosuwanwat, president of Galaxy Boxing Promotions.
Niwat expects that his world champion protégé will emerge victorious tomorrow as he is in conversation with american promoters to bring Poonsawat to fight before American audiences, probably in Las Vegas, by the end of this year.
Thursday’s clash will be Poonsawt’s second defense of the crown he claimed by destroying then champion Irishman Bernard Dunne in three rounds last November 26 at the O2 Arena in Dublin. His first defense was a majority desicion victory over Satoshi Hosono last January in Tokyo. Poonsawat has faced world class fighters like Ricardo Cordoba of Panama and Wladimir Sidorenko from Ukraine (his only lost).
WBA’s super champion in this 122 lbs weight class is 33-years-old fighter Celestino Caballero (34-2, 23 KOs) from Panama. Caballero won his WBA’s black and gold belt by spectacular knock out over then world champion Somsak Sithchatchawal at Wat Ban Rai, Thailand in October of 2006.
The Poonsawat vs Kimura battle will be aired on open TV across Thailand on Channel 7, beginning the live telecast at 2:30pm (Thai time).