Lee Groves

10: Greatest 122-pound title fights

6. Somsak Sithchatchawal KO 10 Mahyar Monshipour – March 18, 2006, Levallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine, France

Every boxing promoter worth his salt wants to inspire visions of unvarnished bombs-away action when he pumps up a fight – any fight. Few actually live up to the hype but this one – rightly declared Fight of the Year by THE RING – not only reached the high standard but exceeded it.

Monshipour, a native of Iran living in France, was just three days short of his 31st birthday when he stepped between the ropes to fight Sithchatchawal and was making the sixth defense of what had been an action-packed reign. Every one of his five previous defenses ended in knockouts and keen observers had every right to believe this one would end inside the distance too. That’s because the 45-1-1 (35) Sithchatchawal came into the fight on a six-bout KO string, all of which ended within six rounds. The caveat is that four of those stoppages came against fighters with fewer than 10 wins, raising severe doubts about his strength of schedule.

Any questions about Sithchatchawal’s worthiness as a challenger vanished within seconds as a scything left uppercut dropped Monshipour for a short count. As the Thai sought to cement his advantage Monshipour did his best to weather the storm by keeping his hands high, burrowing inside and firing short-armed counters. In round two Monshipour hurt Sithchatchawal with his own left uppercut, sparking intense exchanges that inspired images of caveman times.

Monshipour got the better of the action in rounds three and four while round five was a candidate for Round of the Year as they created several dramatic shifts of fortune. The violent trading continued through the middle rounds with each man having his moments, their gold-colored gloves creating reams of golden action.

Sithchatchawal nosed ahead in the seventh when Monshipour showed the first signs of wear. With his left eye swelling and his mouth dripping blood, Monshipour produced spectacular spurts while Sithchatchawal’s steady work chipped away at the titlist’s reserves. The ninth was another superlative action  round as the challenger’s left uppercuts and right hooks inflicted severe damage while the champion made a gallant final stand.

The 10th – destined to be THE RING’s Round of the Year – saw Monshipour take command in the first two minutes only to have Sithchatchawal stage a fight-ending surge. A wicked four-punch volley stopped Monshipour in his tracks and another flush seven-punch salvo had the crowd favorite on the verge of unconsciousness. At that point referee John Coyle jumped in, serving as the bridge that ended one reign and began another.

At the time of the stoppage Sithchatchawal led by one point on two cards and was even on the third. A fitting score for a most evenly contested war.

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