Let's be honest, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym isn't the sort of name that rolls off the tongue. Yet, difficult as it is to pronounce, the Thai's name is on the lips of all Irish boxing fans ahead of Saturday's bout with Bernard Dunne.
The main question, to be honest, is 'Who is Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym?'
Well, that's not an easy question to answer but I'm going to try. Make no mistake, this won't be an easy fight for Dunne. Like Bernard, Poonsawat has only one defeat in his pro career. Boxrec ranks him fifth (three places ahead of the Dubliner) while the WBA have installed him as their mandatory challenger for Bernard's WBA Super Bantamweight belt.
A quick look at his record reveals a lot of truths. Very few of his wins have been against 'name' fighters, while two of his last five fights have been against men with losing records. There are impressive names on his list though. Poonsawat has a win over Somsak Sithchatchawal, a former holder of Dunne's WBA Super Bantamweight crown. That was an eleventh round knockout in March of last year, and it was this win that gave Poonsawat the right to fight for the belt on Saturday. He's also beaten four-weight World Champion Leo Gamez (indeed, Poonsawat finished the Venezuelan's career) while there is one name that Irish fans will recognise - Poonsawat handed Ricardo Cordoba his first pro defeat with a split decision win in 2005.
As I said, he also has one defeat, and that was in his only fight that hasn't taken place in Thailand. Poonsawat travelled to Germany to take on Wladimir Sidorenko in 2006 and was beaten, in a unanimous decision, by the Ukrainian (who himself has a pair of draws with Cordoba). That defeat seems to have been a key point in Poonsawat's career. Up until then, he was pushed, and he was going for big things. The above wins, the key ones, all came before then (with the exception of the Sithchatchawal fight) and since then, most of his fights have been against fighters with less than stellar records. The bout with Dunne is his toughest since then.
This analysis leads me to make these two points about Poonsawat ahead of Saturday's fight:
1. He's a tough cookie, there's no doubt about it. He's beaten big names, and his record of 27 knockouts from 38 wins shows that he has power to boot. He's ranked higher than Dunne and this very well may be Dunne's sternest test to boot, Cordoba included.
2. Poonsawat is a fighter looking for a second coming. His career has stalled (bar one win) for over three years and Saturday is a must-win for him, if he is to get it back on track. He lost his one fight away from home, against Sidorenko, in Germany and he's already making pre-emptive excuses ahead of his trip to Dublin.
Yes, those are two contradictory points, but when we know so little about Poonsawat, we don't know which is the truth. He could be a desperate fighter who Dunne is taking on at the right time, or he could break Irish hearts this weekend. His record shows that he is more than capable of both, but we have no way of knowing which is the truth. Dunne's camp should be confident that the second point is what will materialise, while at the same time fearing the first. I certainly am not be confident enough to predict this fight, either way.
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