By Joe Koizumi
WBC super-flyweight champ Yota Sato (26-2-1, 12 KOs), a flamboyant Japanese, will make his third defense of his belt against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (17-3-1, 16 KOs) in the challenger’s home turf, Thailand, on May 3. It was announced by Kyoei Promotions handling the Japanese speedster, who is under the option agreement of ex-champ Suriyan Sor Rungvisai that Sato had dethroned here in March of the previous year.
For Japanese boxers, Thailand is the most unfortunate place because of high temperature and uncomfortable humidity. In seventeen previous world title goes with Japanese contestants involved there, the record is 0-16-1. This isn’t a rugby score. No Japanese haven’t won with world belts on the line in Thailand.
Even Hall of Famer Fighting Harda, in 1963, failed to defend his world flyweight throne, losing to former titlist Pone Kingpetch by a fifteen-round controversial verdict in Bangkok. “Razor puncher” Hiroyuki Ebihara was also unsuccessful to keep his newly acquired flyweight belt as he lost to the same Kingpetch (who he had polished off via first-round knockout) in Bangkok in 1964. At that time, it was very customary that a newly crowned champion should meet an ex-champ in a return bout of his first defense. For forty-nine years since, no world champions from Japan haven’t gone and fought in Thailand to risk his belts at stake.
Sato undauntedly showed his confidence, saying, “I’ll be the first man to defend the world belt there. I wish to make history in Thailand. I don’t care about any expected disturbance or hostile atmosphere, and will successfully defend my belt.” The 29-year-old Sato is well-known by his strong heart, and we wish his good luck there.