Wanheng Menayothin, Thai Boxing At Crucial Crossroads
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sat, 27 Jun 2020
How much Thais value a world boxing championship?
So much they are willing to invest millions of dollars, translated to hundreds of millions of baht to stage fights to win it or defend it at home.
So much that they will not let go of their champion fighters until he was thoroughly through with his boxing career as in the case of the great Khaossay Galaxy.
Woe to Wanheng Menayothin. Many Thais believe he is not thoroughly through, despite his world record immaculate 54-0 fight ledger.
So Wanheng Menayothin has changed his mind about retiring or has been prevailed upon to continue fighting and remain as unbeaten WBC minimumweight champion and holder of the best career record in boxing history.
In a fit of boredom and uncertainty on account of his still unscheduled US ring debut and his lingering nasal injury, Menayothin took to social media to announce his retirement from boxing.
His post was barely hours old when WBC Asia came out to state that he has not retired and will not retire.
Menayothin himself did not expressly confirm his unretiring other than taking down his earlier post.
His camp and supporters are doing the talking for him and they are basically saying that Wanheng did not consult his principals and was in a nebulous state of mind when he put up that retirement post.
They are saying that his principals and fans are looking forward to Wanheng's fight debut in the US thus fulfilling his contractual commitment to Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions. Or as that pends as US authorities try to resume big time live arena boxing in the States, for Wanheng to make another title defense at home.
But both prospects are problematic on account of the still raging coronavirus pandemic.
Primarily, cases of the viral infection continue to rise in the USA. And despite the relative success of the current first phase in the resumption of boxing in the country where bouts are held indoor with no or very limited audience, the transition to the next phase may take more efforts--- and time.
Wanheng does not have the luxury of time. He is already 34 and may only be good for a few more fights before age catches up on him. He is at best nearing the end of his prime and that showed in his last few fights, particularly against youthful Filipino challenger Melvin Jerusalem whom he barely edged.
He has not seen action for more than half a year and he is not predisposed to wait for some more months or worst, next year for his US debut. His patience is wearing thin.
But his other option, i.e. to stage a title defense at home, is also full of issues, no thanks to Covid 19.
Thailand itself has yet to see the return of boxing, in whatever mode it will take under a new normal. Authorities though are preparing for domestic boxing events tentatively set for next month.
Thai sources though doubt if any world or international fights could be staged at home even assuming a successful return of the sport in the country.
One major constraint is the current travel restriction for foreigners, including pro boxers and their retinue coming to Thailand.
Another is, even if the restrictions are lifted, visiting foreigners still have to undergo the required 14 days quarantine. Will the host promoter be willing to shoulder the cost of hotel quarantine for x number of people?
Thai sources are even doubtful if the usual commercial sponsors like CP Freshmart be willing and capable to come up with the funding support of between $4-5 million to stage a world title fight in Thailand.
Thai economy and businesses are also severely hit by Covid 19.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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