Wanheng Menayothin managed to preserve his unbeaten record with a technical decision win over Japanese boxer Tatsuya Fukuhara at the City Hall in Chachoengsao on Friday.

This was Wanheng’s eleventh defence of his WBC 105lbs title and his second against Fukuhara. The Thai fighter’s record now stands at 53-0, marking him out as one of the best in minimumweight history.

The fight was taken to the score cards in the eighth round after a accidental clash of heads opened a cut on Wanheng’s forehead and the ringside Doctor produced a red card, stopping the contest from continuing. The champion was comfortably ahead at that stage and the scorecards read 79-73, 78-74 and 78-74 in his favour.

Their first encounter back in November 2017 saw Wanheng take a unanimous points decision in a very close bout, where he looked to be lacking a little of his usual sharpness. In the opening round of this fight he started a little slowly, allowing Fukuhara to out work him in the first two minutes before finally starting to put together some strong punches.

Well timed rights

Fukuhara had the advantage in height, but was dropping down to Wanheng’s level and his head kept getting into dangerous positions, resulting in several clashes. The Thai started quicker in the second round and managed to snap his opponent’s head back a few times with well timed rights, to the delight of the partisan home fans.

During the round a cut appeared on the left eyebrow of Fukuhara following an accidental clash of heads. It was right next to the eye but after a brief examination the ringside doctor deemed the damage not sufficiently severe to warrant calling off the contest.

The pace slowed a little in the third round, but both fighters kept opening up with sharp shots in some fairly even exchanges. Wanheng started to dominate the action more in round four, using some slick footwork to move in and out and attack Fukuhara with some crisp combinations.

Fukuhara looked to try and work the body of Wanheng, but it was the Thai fighter that looked the more comfortable and who landed with the more telling blows. In the fifth the champion kept up the slick footwork from the previous round, but was a little more economical with his punches.

Heavy right hands

Wanheng picked his shots well, catching Fukuhara with more heavy looking right hands. To his credit Fukuhara kept a high workmate, but his punches didn’t look to have the same snap.

In the sixth Wanheng looked like he was looking to pace himself a little as he soaked up the attacks. Midway through the round the referee stopped the fight again to get Fukuhara’s cut checked by the doctor, who again allowed the contest to continue.

This fired up Fukuhara, who maybe felt he was on borrowed time, and he proceeded to open up with some heavy punches in his most sustained attacks of the fight so far. Wanheng handled the attacks well though, coming back and landing some solid shots of his own.

Fast jab

In the seventh round Wanheng looked the sharper again as he moved around well, coming from behind a fast jab and peppering Fukuhara with crisp shots. A hard body shot looked like it winded the Japanese fighter a little, but he still showed a warriors heart and kept a high workmate of shots.

Fukuhara kept dropping down to Wanheng’s level, causing the Thai to complain as they clashed heads again right at the bell. The referee agreed, giving the challenger a clear warning him to keep his head up.

Fukuhara didn’t heed the warning though and came out dropping his head in again. The eighth round was barely underway when a cut appeared on Wanheng’s forehead and the fight was paused again so it could be checked by the doctor.

This time the doctor decided to call off the fight and, as it was deemed an accidental head butt, the contest went to the scorecards. It was no surprise when Wanheng was announced as winner, and it’s difficult to imagine the outcome would have been any different if we had seen the final four rounds.

Wanheng executed a strong gameplan, showing great rhythm and timing while Fukuhara looking bereft of ideas. The Japanese fighter kept coming forwards and throwing a lot of punches, but none of them looking like they would be able to change the eventual outcome of the fight.

With the win Wanheng improves to 53-0 and, while he’s running out of opponents at 105lbs, that record speaks for itself. Fukuhura drops to 21-7-6 and is now 0-3 in world title fights.