After the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title rested in the trophy case of one man for nearly three years, it has now found a new home, and that home belongs to one of this generation’s most technical fighters – Tawanchai PK.Saenchai.
The passing of the torch happened at ONE 161 on Thursday, September 29, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, where the Thai phenom fought valiantly for 15 minutes to disrupt Petchmorakot Petchyindee’s reign as divisional king.
From the opening bell, the two men stood at arm’s length and flicked teeps at one another, but Tawanchai’s had more bite.
Petchmorakot’s answer was his low kick, but the 23-year-old one-upped him with that too, as he launched his lightning-quick shins into the Petchyindee Academy representative’s thigh.
By round two, both men had registered enough about one another to start attacking more aggressively and with more variety. Staying true to form, Tawanchai ripped left hands at the defending World Champ and finished his combos with low kicks.
To his credit, the 28-year-old veteran fired two right hands down the middle in one scuffle, and although that earned him a few eyebrow raises, it caught Tawanchai’s attention. He retaliated with a punch and kick combination, which left Petchmorakot rattled.
Midway through the bout, things intensified. Whenever Tawanchai attacked, Petchmorakot shoulder-rolled away from the shots and countered with long left punches. Then they fell into the clinch, where the defending titleholder had the upper hand.
The Petchyindee Academy star jogged in place and outnumbered Tawanchai’s knee strikes, and for the first time, he was starting to pull ahead. Even when he body kicked the PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym fighter and the latter caught it, the Thai veteran hobbled and stung his compatriot with punches.
Petchmorakot carried this momentum into round four, where he opened up with crisp boxing combinations. Tawanchai, soaking up the punishment, seemed to sink deeper into his own head while his rival ran away with the rest of the round.
But perhaps that was part of Tawanchai’s plan because after taking the fourth stanza off, he stepped back into the center of the Circle in the fifth stanza with a drive only seen in the World Championship rounds.
The challenger tagged Petchmorakot with kicks and his signature left punches, and the man who walked into the arena with the featherweight strap was forced to survive the final foray.
After five rounds of intense action, all three judges gave Tawanchai the decision. With the win, he improved his record to 128-31-2 and claimed the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Championship.