A 67 kg, 147 lb, tournament sponsored by Isuzu Motors is currently underway in Thailand. According to Rob Cox, based in Bangkok, the winner receives one million baht and an Isuzu pickup truck, as well as the opportunity to represent Thailand in the next Thai Fight Tournament. The Isuzu Tournament proceeds in a "Groups" format where fighters in Group A and B will have multiple fights within their respective groups before proceeding to the semi-finals.
Group A consists of: Kem Sitsongpeenong; Sudsakorn 13 Coins; Nopparat Keatkhamtorn; Kongjak Sor Tuanthong.
Group B is: Prakaisaeng Sit-Or; Thepsutin Pumpanmuang; Dernchonlek Sor Sor Niyom; Thanongdet Petpayatai.
These fighters are all highly regarded in Thailand and fight anywhere from 147 to 160 lb. Fights are spaced out with one fight per week.
Results thus far:
Dernchonlek def. Prakaisaeng, Points
Thanongdet def. Thepsutin, Points
Sudsakorn def. Kongjak, Points
Kem def. Nopparat, KO Rd 3
Dernchonlek def. Thanongdet, Points
Nopparat vs Kongjak on January 22nd
Of these, Sudsakorn vs Kem is easily the most anticipated. Kem is favored to win the whole tournament and both he and Sudsakorn have put on very strong showings internationally. The last time they fought, it was a vicious, technical bout ending in a third round knockout of Sudsakorn by Kem. Kem will give up two pounds to Sudsakorn in this next bout because of Kem's higher seeding. Though 1 million baht and and an Isuzu is a substantial reward, the spot in the next Thai Fight may be just as important. Thai Fight was introduced in 2010 and is quite prestigious in terms of prize money and recognition. It is rare to see a full Muay Thai rules tournament that offers so much in the way of winnings. Adding to the appeal of the tournament is the fact that the field for fighters above 63.5 kg, 140 lb, in Thailand is quite limited, as attention usually focuses on fighters between 55 and 61.5 kg, 122 - 135 lb.
The first Thai Fight featured 16 international fighters competing in the 67 kg divison and tournament concluded on December 6th with the semi-finals and finals, featuring first Petchmonkong Petchfergus vs Fabio Pinca, then Youssef Boughanem vs Soichiro Miyakoshi.
Petchmonkong Petchfergus is a highly regarded fighter in domestic Thai circuits. He moved up from 135 lb to compete in the 147 lb tournament where he's a little on the light side. He's a tall fighter for his own division, using his lanky height to power through clinches. At 147, he's about average height.
Fabio Pinca is an experienced French nak muay with notable fights against Saenchai, Attachai, and Kem. He fights a well-rounded Thai style and displays a hellacious left hook and good all around power in his tournament bouts.
Youssef Boughanem is a Belgian fighter who's actually slated to fight Buakaw on February 12th. He uses strong kicks and clinch knees in his Muay Thai game.
Soichiro Miyakoshi was probably the least highly regarded of the fighters, but put on a strong showing nonetheless. His style favors punches and lowkicks.
Pinca ended up taking first place in the tournament with knockdowns over Petchmonkong and Boughanem en route to decision victories, while Boughanem proceeded to the finals with a hard-fought victory over a game Miyakoshi. Miyakoshi ended up taking third place in the tournament with a first round knockout of Petchmonkong, who was still hurt from his bout against Pinca. I'll post more on this earlier tournament later.
As the Isuzu Tournament progresses, I'll be doing posts on individual fights, with a focus on more pivotal bouts, like the upcoming Sudsakorn vs Kem.