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March 19, 2017

By Scott Shaffer @Ringside

Srisaket Sor Runvisai W12 Roman Gonzalez… Nicaragua’s Roman Gonzalez and Thailand’s Wisaksil Wangek a/k/a Srisaket Sor Rungvisai waged a tremendous twelve-round war at Madison Square Garden which saw the unheralded Thai make boxing history by upsetting one of the world’s best boxers via majority decision.  Gonzalez supporters cried robbery but no one can dispute this was a great fight.  Rungvisai knocked Gonzalez down in the first round and overcame a point deduction to win a tight decision by scores of 113-113 and 114-112 (twice). Punchstats favored Gonzalez, crediting him with landing more punches in ten out of twelve rounds and a surprising 441-284 overall (it certainly did not seem that one-sided in person).  The significance of this upset cannot be overstated. Gonzalez, already a a four-division champion, is a future Hall of Famer who was undefeated in 46 pro fights and rapidly approaching the undefeated records of Rocky Marciano and Floyd Mayweather. Although Rungvisai was a world title holder from 2013-2014, his career was relatively obscure and he was once so poor he had to search the garbage for his meals. His prior record of 41-4-1 was padded with quite a few no-names and Thai boxers rarely, if ever, win title fights in the United States. Rungvisai’s courageous and thrilling win against the future hall of famer is a shining example of how boxing can transform the lives of the poorest of the poor in ways that are almost unimaginable.

When the verdict was announced, Gonzalez quickly left the ring in disgust, thinking he had been robbed of his chance at boxing history (not to mention his title). Punchstat figures backed up Gonzalez’s complaint but it was sort of refreshing to see a close decision go against the boxer with the most money behind him.  Besides, anyone who saw the fight would be happy to pay for a rematch. (Let’s see if HBO can pull this off, but the prediction is the WBC will try to force Rungvisai to first face the less-deserving Carlos Cuadras, who like the WBC, comes from Mexico).

Shortly after the bout started, Rungvisai stunned the crowd by knocking Gonzalez down in the first round. Rungvisai accomplished this by landing a body shot while Gonzalez was off balance. The Nicaraguan was not hurt, but it served notice that the challenger meant business.

In the third round, Gonzalez suffered a cut on the side of his right eye from what appeared to be a headbutt from the southpaw Rungvisai. The cut would continue to bleed for most of the fight. It clearly bothered Gonzalez, who complained of headbutts throughout the night.

The action was torrid in the fourth as Gonzalez continued to complain about headbutts. In the fifth, Gonzalez began slowing Rungvisai down with some well-placed uppercuts. He won the round, but the Thai challenger remained determined.

The sixth round saw a bleeding Gonzalez impressively working over Rungvisai, going to the head and body and moving his own head out of the way before the Thai could counter.   Rungvisai had a point deducted questionably for an alleged headbutt that did not look bad at all and certainly not intentional.

Rungvisai recovered and won the seventh round. The eighth round was fought forehead-to-forehead with Gonzalez getting the better of the action. By round nine, it was clear Rungvisai was targeting the cut over Gonzalez’s eye, and he had success with that strategy, but Gonzalez was able to make him pay with effective counters. The tenth round saw the two warriors trading on equal terms with Rungvisai appearing to smile after getting tagged with a hard combination. Things slowed down just a bit in the eleventh but the twelfth was hard fought and both boxers were rewarded with a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd. If you missed this fight, you must track down a tape of it, as it is an all-time classic in the lighter weight divisions

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