Rungvisai Shocks The World: Beats Gonzalez In 12 Round Epic
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 KO’s) produced an upset of cataclysmic proportions as he toppled consensus ‘Pound for Pound’ #1 Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (46-1-0, 38 KO’s) to claim the WBC World Super Flyweight title in a brutal ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate.
With Gonzalez entering the contest with an unblemished 46-0 record, many were expecting another masterclass from the four weight World Champion, however, the fight opened in dramatic circumstances with a shocking first round knockdown after a body shot from Rungvisai caught the Nicaraguan superstar square on and sent him tumbling to the canvas.
The naturally bigger Rungvisai continued to press the action and force his size on Gonzalez, with a heavy right hook from the southpaw stance catching Gonzalez high on top of the head and drawing a reaction from the smaller man.
Gonzalez, undeterred, continued to press the action in the early rounds, but was met with staunch resistance from Rungvisai, with Gonzalez’s perpetual motion met with blunt force and power from the tough Thai fighter. With the fight already beginning in shocking fashion, things would go from bad to worse for Gonzalez, after a clash of heads opened up a nasty cut above his right eye at the beginning of the third. However, Gonzalez would show the Championship form that led him to superstardom, battling through the blood and pouring forward throwing combination punches to win a much needed round.
The middle rounds of the fight would produce a slew of exciting exchanges, with the mobility and agile angles of Gonzalez allowing him to throw at a higher volume against the flat-footed Rungvisai. Despite the clear gulf in technical quality, it was the physical advantages Rungvisai enjoyed that presented the most problems, with each shot thrown with bad intentions and appearing to halt the charge of the diminutive Nicaraguan.
Further use of the head by Rungvisai in the sixth round saw him deducted a point, with Gonzalez’s face a mask of crimson, with another cut opened above the temple on his right side. Still, the action did not slow, with Gonzalez fighting through the pain barrier and finally appearing to dent the larger man for the first time in the fight, with a crippling barrage of body shots sending Rungvisai back to the ropes at the end of the round. After the two-point opening round in favour of Rungvisai, the point deduction had seen his good start handicapped.
Entering the second half of the fight, both fighters started to show signs of fatigue, with Gonzalez’s usual marauding style unable to overwhelm his opponent – as it had done at the lower weight classes – whereas Rungvisai had seemingly tired after loading up with huge shots from the opening bell. Once again, each man dug deep, continuing to unload shots at one and other as this modern classic unfolded to the delight of the Madison Square Garden audience. A hard left hand from Rungvisai seemed to once again grab the attention of Gonzalez, and with it, another round on the scorecards in the seventh.
Gonzalez continued to press forward with the flashier, more eye-catching work in the eighth round, but once more it was the bigger man having the greater impact in the exchanges. Gonzalez, for all of his talent and skill, simply could not discourage his opponent, who returned each shot with interest, throwing his southpaw left with reckless abandon.
Heading into the Championship rounds, it was the challenger who looked the fresher, with Gonzalez – who won his first World Title at Minimumweight – unable to impose himself on his opponent. A series of straight left hands from the southpaw stance in the ninth round secured a much needed round for Rungvisai, with Gonzalez having no answer to his sustained barrage of shots.
With the fight almost too close to call, both men emptied their tanks in the tenth and eleventh rounds, with both men exchanging ferocious combinations, unloading a seemingly endless stream of punches. Rungvisai would win the eleventh round to give air to the possibility of a monumental upset – with the Thai fighter priced as an 8/1 underdog before the fight – heading into the twelfth and final round.
Despite the blood and guts nature of the fight – quite literally in the case of Gonzalez, who’s face by now resembled something from a horror movie – the action had provided an intriguing tactical battle between a supremely talented smaller fighter and a solid, sturdy larger opponent. This clash of styles continued until the final bell, with Gonzalez owning the first portion of the round with his superior boxing IQ, before Rungvisai returned fire in the middle portion with his size and strength. The watching crowd – treated to a bona fide ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate – let out boos towards the final stages of the contest, with Rungvisai retreating in the wake of Gonzalez’s attempts to force the action. It seems, somehow, that 35 and a half minutes of pure entertainment, blood and drama is not enough for some…
At the sound of the final bell, Rungvisai held his arms aloft, certain he had done enough in the eyes of the judges to claim the decision – and with it, the monstrous upset – with Gonzalez retreating to his corner in his usual quiet demeanour. The fight was unarguably close, with Gonzalez throwing the more eye-catching shots, but unable to impose himself on Rungvisai in the same way he had blown through the competition at the lighter weights. Rungvisai – who had looked out of his depth at times in the fight – boxed with a steeliness and determination that had seen him go toe-to-toe with a modern great.
With the scorecards announcing a majority decision, it was left to Michael Buffer to award the contest to the challenger by scores of 114-112 (x2) & 113-113 for the shocking upset victory. While some may call robbery, the fight was undoubtedly closely contested with many, many close rounds and tough to judge exchanges. Perhaps the greatest shock was the fact that a relative unknown in Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had gotten the decision against such a global phenomenon as Gonzalez. There is sure to be a rematch, and if the bout is half as good as the first fight, it will be an honour to see it take place.
With Gonzalez unbeaten streak coming to an end at 46, Rocky Marciano’s ‘Holy Grail’ number of 49 is safe… For now.
Rob Tebbutt Scorecard: 113-113 (Draw)
By Rob Tebbutt. You can follow Rob on Twitter on @RobTebbutt