What a brilliant outdoors Muay Thai festival in Phattalung. With an estimated 5-7 million baht gate, and tickets only priced at 300 baht, you can do the mathematics yourself as to how many people crammed onto a fenced off school football field to watch two Lumpinee elites put in work, and a tasty selection of other top talent.
A host of talented Nak Muays in the preliminaries and on the main card alike, a thrilling war which Singpatong’s Penthai was unlucky to lose, and a great main event in which the loser looked better than the winner; the super-fight with WPMF world title at stake as a delicious side dish; Sportswriters Fighter of the Year Penek versus former fellow Lumpinee Stadium champion Sagetdao.
Penek was named Sportswriters of Thailand Fighter of the Year 2012 after claiming yet more titles with his toppling of super-bantamweight and p4p king Sam-A, to capture Thailand & Lumpinee Stadium featherweight gold. Sagetdao of course beat Saenchai twice in 2011, won the Lumpinee Stadium lightweight title, and also toppled the-then incumbent of the Fighter of the Year award in Nong-O. With a featherweight king taking on a lightweight elite, the stage couldn’t have been set more perfectly for a super-featherweight title fight!
The main event itself was a barnburner. Penek came out strong and outstruck the larger man, bouncing on his toes and simply oozing confidence in front of his hometown fans. For the first two – crucially, non-scoring – rounds, he looked to be sharper, faster, more dexterous in attack and more elusive defensively.
Then in the third, he got dumped. Having finally tasted several of Sagetdao’s patented left body kicks, Penek was unable to deal with the size and strength in the clinch, and after prolonged periods of outstriking Sagetdao, his opponent managed to tie him up and put him on his back. In the fourth, despite landing more kicks and even an elbow that cut the Phetpayathai man, Penek got thrown again, and outclinched. At the end of the round, with the big-money betting stemming from the impartial richer folk, the betting swung against Penek, and the Singpatong man was offered 100,000 baht on the spot if he managed to win the fight.
The fifth, and final round. Despite outstriking his foe once more, Penek sat back and lackadaisically allowed the time to pass, thinking that the judges nod would have gone to his superior striking rather than the somewhat ungainly throw and dump manner of victory via size with which his opponent employed to ultimately prevail over the unfortunate Penek.
In the humble opinion of this writer, Penek is a superior Muay Thai fighter than Sagetdao, and was simply beaten (if you can call it that) by the superior size and strength that allowed for a handful of eye catching throws and dumps between rounds 3-5, and the expected manhandling from the clinch of a natural 135lbs fighter against the featherweigh (126lbs) king.
Here is the fight video from tonight, in full – exclusive to Fight Sport Asia:
Penek’s team-mate Penthai put in a tremendous performance against Palongphon, of Watcharchai Gym who were celebrating their recent WBC title triumph. The younger Penthai and his experienced foe slugged it out for four solid rounds, trading punch for kick, knee for elbow, tamala for teep, in a wildly contested technical brawl in which neither man forsake technique or precision but still attacked with unbridled aggression. It was classic.
In a pattern to be repeated later in Penek/Sagetdao, Penthai cut his eventual victor in round four with an elbow, which looked to have been the turning point and put him well and truly in the ascendancy. However, a nice sweep unbalanced Penthai and a quick punch and kick sent him to the floor. Though he wasn’t rocked, it sent the pendulum swinging back the other way, and the old thing never returned for the Sitnumnoi man.
Both men came out aggressively in the final round, which led myself and others to believe that the result was up in the air. But in the second half of the round, Palongphon showed he was willing to sit back, cover up and just throw body kicks to his onrushing opponent, and he duly saw out until the bell that signalled a call on the judges, who unanimously awarded him the decision.
Former Penek opponent (in Phuket’s Bangla Boxing Stadium) Sitisak managed to utterly outclinch and dominate his opponent Petchmongkol. The fight was called to a halt in the third, as the veteran managed to force a stoppage simply due to outworking him.
The event as a whole was tremendous – a main card that delivered, and preliminaries that most certainly did. It makes one sad that… all those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain. Good names were brought in, and the main event was about as elite as it gets in Muay Thai without the word “Saenchai” on the card.
And speaking of which… I think it is no understatement to say that the round-robin trio of common opponents; Saenchai, and tonight’s main eventers Sagetdao and Penek, between the weight of 122-135lbs, are the three best fighters in the world.
It was emotional.
Twitter @ Daniel Fletcher