Master grappler wins Thailand championship
IN THE RING
In classic Muay Thai, grappling is respected and admired as one of the most powerful weapons for a stand-up fighter.
Damian Kwiathong Gym successfully defended his Lumpinee title.
And this was proven again when the piercing knee striker Sakeddao Petchphayathai was beaten by the master grappler Petchbounchoo F.A. Group for the Thailand lightweight (133lb) championship at Lumpinee Stadium earlier this month. It was a classic showdown between two of the top in-form elite Thai fighters who came into the ring red hot for the first round and the intensity didn’t drop for the full five rounds.
In terms of the match-up, Sakeddao looked to have the knee weapons to break free of the grapple, but as hard and repetitively he was unable to land a lethal knee strike.
By the end of the third stanza, Sakeddao was forced to abandon his strategy and, instead, launched a two-pronged attack of knees and punches.
In Muay Thai contests, punches are regarded as a secondary weapon and most valued for getting a knockout victory, but as much as Sakeddao tried to knock his opponent down in the final round he could not.
By winning Thailand’s Muay Thai lightweight champion, Petchbounchoo has restored the order of many past champions who built their careers around their gruelling grappling.
On the same card, another classic contest was fought between “Black Lion” Singdum Kiatmoo 9 and Saenchai P.K.
Even through the contest was for the Lumpinee lightweight championship, Saenchai (131lb) and Singdum (134lb) entered the contest at different weights, and the taller and heavier Singdum used his height and long leg kicks to keep Saenchai outside of his striking range.
Saenchai is regarded by many as the best pound for pound Muay Thai fighter in the world and, as good as Singdum certainly is, it’s unlikely he could beat “the little master” at a weight under 133lb. But the weight difference didn’t stop the punters backing Saenchai, who started the fight a hot favourite to win.
Singdum knew that his best chance of winning was to keep Saenchai away from fighting close inside and he did it brilliantly with powerful long-range kicks that not only frustrated his opponent but scored points in every round.
Saenchai, a former professional boxer, was able to stun Singdum in the second round with a solid right punch to the head, but most of his punching flurries fell short of the target and Singdum cruised to a 49-47 points win.
Capping off the night of champions, young French sensation Damian Kwiathong Gym successfully defended the Lumpinee super-lightweight championship for the second time.
Not only did he win, the 22-year-old French fighter from Bordeleau won every round and knocked down Aruchai Pran in the first with a hard punch that dazzled the crowd along with reverse elbow attacks and attacking kick strikes in the latter rounds.
Damian holds the World Professional Muay Thai Federation world title and is one of a few foreigners to win a Lumpinee championship title.
“Winning the world title is good but being the Lumpinee champion is a great honour and something that I treasure,” he said.
Damian plans to fight in Paris later this year and there is speculation that he will take on Saenchai in a “champions of champions” showdown. For the fight to take place, Damian would have to drop several pounds and Sanechai would have to add weight.
Only two other foreign fighters _ Dutchman Ramon Dekker and Australian John Wayne Par _ have been able to compete and win consistently at Lumpinee, and Damian now holds the baton for internationals fighting against the elite Thai boxers in their home stadium.
“I train in Phuket and come to Bangkok to fight. That’s good for me as I can train in a healthy environment and prepare to take on the best,” he said.
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About the author
Writer: Patrick Cusick