It's been a good year for Sam A who has beaten all comers with the only exception a dubious draw with Konsak (pretty much everyone except the judges thought Kongsak won) but it got a whole lot better on Friday night.
Like a lot of the best Muay Thai fighters Sam A hails from Buriram in the rural north east which is one of the most impoverished areas in Thailand. As one of the most in demand fighters on the stadium circuit in Bangkok he can expect to receive in excess of 100,000 Baht per fight, more than most people in Buriram earn in a year, but on Friday night he had the prize of a Toyota pick up (valued at 1.7 million Baht according to the announcer) awaiting him if he could defeat Ting Tong.
Ting Tong is sponsored by Isuzu and not wishing to be outdone they also offered him an Isuzu pickup meaning that the winner would be driving home in one of two trucks parked outside the stadium. Sam A won the last time these two fought and Ting Tong the underdog was allowed to weigh in 2 lbs heavier. If the extra weight was an advantage it didn't show as, after the traditionally slow start, Sam A dominated proceedings to win a one sided decision victory.
Sam A ia a very intelligent fighter, who is good at making his opponents miss and then pubishing them with a vicious left body kick. He was up against another southpaw in Ting Tong but the strategy remained the same and was effective enough for him to be awarded the fight 50-47 on all three judge's scorecards.
In the main event 2010 fighter of the year Nong O took on F 16 who was coming off a big win over 2009 fighter of the yeat Kongsak which you can see here (check out the handspeed from F16 as he knocks Kongsak down twice in round two). 2011 has not been a vintage year for Nong O who has lost a few fights and this one had a two million baht bet riding on it.
F16 looked to be the bigger of the two fighters but Nong O was able to hold his own for the first few rounds. It seemed to be anyone's fight but Nong O faded badly in rounds four or five allowing F16 to outwork and outmuscle him to the extent that the outcome was a foregone conclusion long before the final bell sounded.
A stellar card also saw Singdam and Petboonchu do battle for the third (i think...) time this year. Petboonchu's clinch work has made the difference in the previous two fights but this time it was the turn of the 'black lion' who was able to consistently land body kicks and even managed to more than hold his own in the clinch.
In the fight of the night Detnarong Wor Sangprapai and Tryjak Sitjomtry went toe to toe right from the opening bell. Most Muay Thai fighters like to star slow but these two started unloading straightaway and it looked set to be a classic until Detnarong got swept in round two and then hit with a knee on the way down which cut him badly and left him needing a ten count to recover.
It seemed that the momentum was with Tryjak but instead Detnarong came storming back, taking the fight to his opponent to win every remaining round despite being covered in blood from a gash above his left eye. A full house at Lumpini erupted and Detnarong celebrated long and hard, even the referee was on the receving end of a kiss much to his surprise.
The first fight of the night saw Ponsanah on the comeback trail. He made a name for himself sue to his aggressive style and solid low kicks which are the trademark of fighters from the Sitmonchai camp but has been out of action for a while after briefly becoming a monk (most Thai men do this at some stage in their lives).
He was up against Yuttachai and took less than a round to destroy his opponent's leg, showing just how effective low kicks can be as a weapon. It was one of the best cards of the year, put on by Petchyindee promotions. A match up between Saenchai and F16 must surely be on the cards soon as the two have never previously met while a rematch between Kongsak (who beat Pakorn Sakyotin recently) and Sam A would also be interesting.