Muay Thai superstar Grand Prix in Bangkok

Hundreds of Muay Thai fans living outside Thailand will be flying to Bangkok for a "Grand Prix" of Muay Thai superstar action on June 8 and 9.

Superstars Singdam Kiatmoo9, Saenchai Sor Kingsgtar and Nong-O Gaiyanghadao will defend their All-Star Muay Thai status at Lumpinee stadium on June 8 while the day after Jomthong Chuwattana, Sakeddao Petchapayatai, Big Ben Ch Praram 6 and Kem Sitsongpeenong will defend "Fortress Thailand" against the top international challengers in the "Battle for the Belts" event at the Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.

The big weekend gathering of Thai and international top echelon talent in the Thai capital promises to be the highlight of the kingdom's boxing year.

Six Thai arch-rivals have been matched for peak performance contests at Lumpinee.

Saenchai will be hard pressed to match Pen-ek Sitnumnoi.

In-form Nong-O should eclipse Petchboonchu FA Group while "Black Lion" Singdam will need to be at his best to get the edge over Wanchalerm Ud-donmuang who over the last 12 months has developed into a hardened unrelenting fighter.

While the All-Stars at Lumpinee will be handicapped with maximum weight allowance, the other top Thai champions will be fighting at their best fighting weights for the WBC world titles.

Sakeddao should have too much class for French lightweight star Raouf Beliouze and Rajadamnern's lightweight superstar Jomthong is expected to be too strong and talented for Turkey's champion Yetkin Ozkul.

While Kem should dominate Alejedrano Asumo Oso (Spain), welterweight Big is in for a tough battle with Frenchman Fabio Pinca who's looking to win his second WBC world title.

In the heavier weights _ where the Thais aren't physically big enough to compete _ Australian Steven McKinnon, who has held his WBC super-cruiserweight title for several years, faces the ultimate test of his long professional fighting career when he takes on Holland's Frank Munoz who's regarded as one Europe's best Muay Thai practitioners.

A triumph against Munoz will make McKinnon become one of the great Muay Thai champions.

Speaking from Sydney, McKinnon said he was "fully focused on beating Munoz."

"The word is that he's unbeatable in Holland and the pride of Europe. If I beat him, as I expect I will, then I will be recognised as one of the greats in Muay Thai. To get that recognition would make me really proud."

McKinnon has been the WBC world champion for several years but has had trouble finding top ranked contenders to take him on.

"Going into an event with six other world champions defending their titles will be the highlight of my fighting life. I can't wait to get to Thailand," he said.

The heavyweight world championship will be a titanic clash between Argentina's WBC world title-holder Christian Bosch and Japan's Fabiano Cyclone.

Fabiano, a former K1 heavyweight star, has promised his fans that he will be in peak condition when he faces Bosch.

The Japanese star said he expected the heavyweight Muay Thai clash to "be hard and unforgiving. "If I am not at my best I might get knocked out. I will go to Thailand prepared to fight at my best to win," he said in Tokyo.

After losing to Simon Marcus, US light-heavyweight star Joe Schilling is thankful of getting a crack for the title held by Russia's Artem Levin.

Schilling, who knocked down Marcus, said he had improved and was now ready to go to the top final level and win the world title.

Marcus said he was disappointed he had to withdraw but had not given up his ambition to win a WBC green title belt.

He did not give any reason for being unable to fight, although he is reportedly fully recovered from Schilling's hard knock down punch that he sustained in his last fight in Las Vegas.

June 8

Lumpinee All-Star Super Fights

Nong-O Gaiyanghadao v Petchboonchu FA Group; Singdam Kiatmoo9 v Wanchalerm Ud-donmuang; Saenchai Sor Kingstar v Pen-ek Sitnumnoi

June 9

WBC Battle for the Belts

Lightweight world championship: Jomtong Chuwattana (Thailand) v Yetkin Ozkul (Turkey); Super-lightweight world championship; Sakeddao Petchapayatai (Thailand) v Raouf Beliouz (France)

Welterweight world championship: Big Ben Ch Praram 6 (Thailand) v Fabio Pinca (France)

Super-welterweight world championship: Kem Sitsongpeenong (Thailand) v Alejedrano Asumo Oso (Spain)

Light-heavyweight world championship: Artem Levin (Russia) v Joe Schilling (USA)

Super-cruiserweight world championship: Steve McKinnon (Australia) v Frank Munoz (Holland)

Heavyweight world championship: Christian Bosch (Argentina) v Fabiano Cyclone (Japan)

About the author

columnist
Writer: Patrick Cusick
Position: Reporter