by James Slater – The decade is just one day away from coming to an end, and on web sites and in publications everywhere, boxing writers have been giving their choice or choices for the fight or fights of the decade that was 2000 to 2009.
There have been some truly great fights over the past ten years, and as such picking a list of just five or ten is a most difficult task. Picking just one is damn near impossible. However, I have managed to choose a winner when it comes to fight of the last decade, as you will have gathered from the title of this article..
Not an obvious choice maybe, but the super-bantamweight war that took place in March of 2006 is my personal pick for the cream of the crop that was seen in the sport in the 2000s. The argument that another fight is actually better than my choice is most understandable, and fights that seem to have been given the honours include all three Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez battles, the Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy, the first Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales war and, of course, the splendid Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I epic. These choices, along with a number of others, cannot be faulted, but, perhaps simply to avoid going with the herd, I have chosen the battle between the Frenchman and the Thai instead.
Though my choice is sure to attract arguments and debate, it is, after all, simply my opinion only. And, as anyone who has seen the fight will know, the incredible fight that raged in 2006 sure was a dandy.
Here, for those fans who have not yet seen this terrific boxing match, is a rundown of how the spellbinding action unfolded.
Defending WBA super-bantamweight champion, Monshipour of France, who was making the 6th defence of his world title, came out like a man possessed at the sound of the opening bell. Southpaw Sithchatchawal of Thailand, who had lost just once previously in 47 bouts, met him head-on and the brutal action commenced. And brutal is the only world for it! Without exaggerating, what these two men did to one another simply has to be seen to be believed, such is the sheer carnage going on in centre ring.
The Frenchman threw himself to the floor in the opening seconds, such was his enthusiasm for battle, but a genuine knockdown soon sent him there for real. A sharp left uppercut/hook did the job, and the Thai fighter had the upper hand. Not for long, though. For as soon as he got back up, the ultra-tough fighter from France, along the equally tough boxer from Thailand, went at it, in a I’ll-hit-you, you-hit-me approach for ten of the most breathtaking rounds of boxing imaginable. With almost every punch from either guy being a fully loaded one, the damage being done on both sides was savage.
The only question was, who would cave in first? Someone had to, surely! But for round after round, no-one did. The brutality continued unabated. Almost as incredible, is the fact that neither warrior was particularly marked up, despite the savage haymakers they were furiously exchanging – a cut over the champion’s left eye and some blood from his nose being the only wounds of battle. Of course, that’s during the contest – how the two men looked a few hours after the war had ceased is something I can’t tell you.
Of the two men, the challenger was the more versatile. Able to box and move at times, and stick out a fast right jab, the man from Thailand was to benefit from his greater skill. The Frenchman, marching forwards relentlessly and refusing – or unable- to change tactics, was the first to visibly grow at least a little weary. Not that you could blame him! But the action seemed to last a hell of a long time before the pace slowed. After about 6 rounds of trying to knock chunks out of each other, the frenetic pace dipped at least a touch. But how the fans had been treated to an all-time classic.
The 9th round was especially mind-blowing. In this session, with the two rivals beginning to tire, they traded blow after blow with absolutely no regard for defence. Both swinging for the fences, the spectacle was like few others ever seen inside a boxing ring. Finally, as round number ten approached its end, the stubbornness was drained from the man from France. As Sithchatchawal teed off, making Monshipour’s head visibly reel as he did so, British referee John Coyle dived in to call a halt. And with the stoppage, my pick for the fight of the last decade came to an end.
The best fight from 2000 to 2009? Better than Corrales-Castillo? Better than Gatti-Ward? Better than Vazquez-Marquez? Better than Barrera-Morales? To be honest, I think so, yes. As great as those fights were, the kind of intense, even insane, warfare the two great fighters with the unpronounceable surnames gave us was nothing short of unique.
Happy New Year, and for those of you who have the fight on video (or for those who haven’t got it, look it up on YouTube) get it out and watch it today!