Former WBC super-flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai endured some difficult moments early on and a gash on the left eyelid from the third to rally strongly from the sixth and trump a still dangerous Amnat Ruenroeng on the cards at Workpoint Studio in Bang Phun, Pathumthani, Thailand. Scores were 97-94, 96-93 and 99-91.
The victory paved the way for a potential rubber match with old rival Juan Francisco Estrada in 2021.
With the fight at super-bantamweight, Srisaketâ€™s power and pressure had less effect early on against wily veteran Amnat, but a late surge in the second half of the fight was enough to secure victory.
It was especially intriguing early on. Southpaw Srisaket (48-5-1, 41 KOs) was immediately on the front foot as the cagey Amnat used his fast hands and understanding of distance to ghost away from his rivalâ€™s body blows. It seemed unlikely he would survive Srisaketâ€™s heavy press without evasive manoeuvres and well-placed counters.
In the second, Amnat (20-4, 6 KOs) was landing smart right hands and illustrating he still had the speed and footwork at 40 to cause problems. The early portents were good but one expected Srisaket to make him pay down the stretch with that body work.
Srisaket narrowed the gap in the third after being read the riot act by his corner. The two clashed heads where Srisaket suffered a gash on the left eyelid. After a doctorâ€™s inspection, the fight was allowed to continue. The break sparked both men into feverish action as Srisaket desperately sought to avoid a technical decision and Amnat saw an enhanced chance of victory should four rounds be completed and the fight head to the cards early.
In the fourth, the stakes were raised. Srisaket seemed sluggish after the enforced break due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Srisaket focused on the body to slow Amnatâ€™s legs. Yet Amnat timed him perfectly with slick one-twos to have Srisaket recoiling and ended the round with a flourish. An upset was on the cards.
Amnatâ€™s speed and defensive nous were causing Srisaket considerable problems as the former WBC super-flyweight champion remained locked in an uncomfortable pursuit.
As we entered the sixth round, Srisaket was banking on Amnatâ€™s legs betraying him in the second half of the fight. The former IBF flyweight champion’s timing was immaculate as he used the ring periphery to frustrate the pedestrian Srisaket. But Srisaket ended the sixth strongly to suggest a grandstand finish.
Employing his trademark psychology, Amnat remained on his feet between rounds, but one sensed Srisaketâ€™s pressure was finally taking a toll. Amnat was soon in an uncomfortable retreat as Srisaket poured forward in the seventh.
The cut had not been an issue since the third and Srisaket had the bit between his teeth in the eighth as he tested the older legs of Amnat with incessant pressure. The tide had turned from those early rounds of frustration, but Amnat stood his ground and traded gamely.
Srisaket certainly had a measure of dominance as the fight reached its conclusion, but Amnat refused to budge and soaked up some heavy shots. The former WBC 115lbs title-holder had shaken off the ring rust and was pressing for a late stoppage in the ninth as Amnatâ€™s focus turned to survival.
Amnat had three minutes left to survive and he bundled over Srisaket to buy some time in the last round. He boxed astutely to hear the final bell and may have even nicked the last. Srisaket walked on to a right uppercut as Amnat spoiled his way to the cards in a creditable showing.
Srisaket moves on to a fight with Estrada, but doesn’t look ready on this showing.
On the undercard, Thailandâ€™s rising super-bantam Chainoi Worawut (11-0-1, 10 KOs) halted Filipino Jomar Fajardo (17-17-2, 9 KOs) in the second.