The man behind Srisaket's rise back to stardom
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The man behind Srisaket's rise back to stardom

WBC super-flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, centre, arrives at Suvarnabhumi airport after winning the title in New York. Photo: Somchai Poomlard
WBC super-flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, centre, arrives at Suvarnabhumi airport after winning the title in New York. Photo: Somchai Poomlard

Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai regained the WBC super-flyweight title on March 18 with a 114-112, 114-112, 113-113 win over holder Roman Gonzalez at New York's Madison Square Garden.

It is not only ranked one of the biggest upsets but also one of the most exciting bouts in recent boxing history following an action-packed 12-round fight.

Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao tweeted after the fight: "I enjoy watching guys that will stand and trade punches instead of jab and run for 12 rounds. This is boxing! #ChocolatitoRungvisai".

Glyn T Davies, the US ambassador to Thailand, tweeted: "Superfly! Srisaket Sor Rungvisai stung like a bee @NYC's Madison Sq Garden to win WBC super flyweight title. A champion with heart."

The 30-year-old Thai, a 14-1 underdog before the fight, handed Nicaragua's Gonzalez the first loss of his career in 47 fights.

"He is one of the best fighters but the reason I won is because I have all the help and encouragement from the people of Thailand," said Srisaket who knocked down Gonzalez for an eight count in the opening round.

Srisaket first won the WBC super-flyweight title four years ago after beating Japan's Yota Sato in his home province of Si Sa Ket.

But his reign last only one year when he lost the crown to Carlos Cuadras in Mexico in his second title defence.

Mexico's Cuadras successfully defended the belt six times before losing to Gonzalez in September for the first defeat of his career.

It took more than two years for Srisaket, known in Thailand as Srisaket Nakornloung Promotion, to win back the 115-pound title.

"I always had faith in him and he did not disappoint me," said his manager Surachart Pisitwutthinan, boss of Nakornloung Promotion.

"He should not have lost to Cuadras so I kept supporting him until he got another shot at the world title."

Srisaket's win has breathed a new life into Surachart's firm in particular and Thai boxing in general.

A few days before the historic win, Srisaket's friend Nawaphon Nakornloung was stopped by Mexico's Juan Hernandez in the third round in the fight for the vacant WBC flyweight title in Bangkok.

"With Nawaphon's loss, the morale of Srisaket and our staff was low. I had to tell them to leave the disappointment behind and move forward," Surachart said.

Srisaket is Thailand's third current world boxing champion with the others being Wanheng Menayothin (WBC minimumweight) and Knockout CP Freshmart (WBA minimumweight).

While some US media outlets such as ESPN and the Associated Press think the Nicaraguan won, Surachart said it is not uncommon for people to have a different opinion.

He said he felt confident that his boxer was going to win the bout with one round to go.

"I did not know the scores [before the outcome was announced] and I believe the judges did their duty in a straightforward manner," Surachart said.

"The judges were selected by US boxing authorities and not by the WBC. In fact, I think had the bout not been staged in the US, we would have lost."

Veteran boxing journalist Sroi Mungmee said he did not see anything wrong in the officiating.

"It is normal for people to have such an opinion after the boxer they support has lost," said Sroi.

"Gonzalez did land more punches but Srisaket landed more clear-cut punches. In my view, Srisaket won by two points."

Gonzalez had 441 punches landed to the Thai's 284. Gonzalez's punches landed are the third most in boxing history for a losing fighter in a championship bout.

Sroi added that Srisaket's punches were more powerful and that he was so strong that Gonzalez failed to knock him out.

"Gonzalez is not as strong as he was when he fought in the 112-pound division," said Sroi.

Another factor behind Srisaket's win was the Thai is a southpaw.

Surachart said he carefully studied tapes of Gonzalez's fights and found that he rarely fought a southpaw.

Promoter Niwat Laosuwannawat, who managed former WBA junior-bantamweight champion Khaosai Galaxy, credited Surachart for his role in helping Srisaket reclaim the title.

Srisaket used to be a sparring partner at Niwat's Galaxy boxing camp and Niwat was not impressed by the boxer.

"Frankly, I did not see that he would become a future star," Niwat said.

But Surachart saw it the other way round when he first met Srisaket.

"He was about 20 years old when he came to our camp. I was impressed by his talent and discipline," Surachart said.

"With proper training, he became better and stronger. Since joining our camp, he has lost only once [to Cuadras]."

Srisaket (42-4-1, 38KOs) is Nakornloung Promotion's fourth world champion after Weeraphol Sahaprom (WBC and WBA bantamweight), Sirimongkol Singmanasak (WBC super-featherweight) and Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (WBC super-flyweight).

"I will continue promoting my boxers to win more titles. My policy is I want my boxers to win both titles and the fans' hearts," Surachart said.

Regarding Srisaket's next opponent, the promoter said there was a verbal agreement that the winner between Srisaket and Gonzalez would fight Cuadras.

But Cuadras may now have to wait longer for another fight with Srisaket, according to Surachart.

Gonzalez, 29, has called for a rematch as he think he won, and their second meeting is likely.

"I'm a little dinged up. I thought I won the fight. I want an immediate rematch. I want to get my title back," said Gonzalez after the loss.

Surachart said a rematch is likely.

"Boxing fans want to see a rematch and I think concerned parties want to make that happen as well," Surachart said.

"Srisaket also wants a rematch. It could take place at Madison Square Garden or in Los Angeles."

Srisaket said: "If he wishes to have a rematch, he can have it. I'm ready."

Srisaket may want another encounter with Gonzalez due to financial reasons.

His camp received US$75,000 from last Saturday's fight and Srisaket reportedly got a small sum.

Now that he is the champion, Srisaket would surely receive a bigger share from a rematch which could make him financially secured for the rest of his life.

At the moment, he is relishing the fame that has ensued his stunning victory.

He will meet Prime Minister Prayut at Government House on Tuesday and take part in a welcome parade in his hometown the following day.

Srisaket is greeted by his parents at Suvarnabhumi airport. Photo: Somchai Poomlard

Roman Gonzalez waves to fans after returning to Managua. photo: reuters

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