Wanheng Menayothin continues to plead his case as the best to ever do it. That day may never come, but so far neither has the one where his strawweight title reign comes to an end.
The unbeaten long-reigning 105-pound titlist lodged his 12th successful defense following a 12-round win over South Africa’s Simpiwe Konkco. Scores were 116-110, 117-109 and 118-109 in favor of Thailand’s Menayothin, much to the delight of the intimate but partisan crowd on hand Friday afternoon in Chonburi, Thailand.
Konkco entered his second career title fight—and first fight outside of South Africa—as the mandatory challenger and fully determined to shock the world, but soon discovered there was more than just a glossy record to his unbeaten foe. The visiting challenger held his own in a competitive opening round, working his way inside and attempting to establish a body attack. It paid off early, though also leaving him within striking range for Menayothin’s cleaner punches.
The defending title claimant took firm control of the bout in round two, connecting with an uppercut on the inside and—while missing with a combination—forcing Konkco out of effective punching range. Menayothin intensified his aggression from there, throwing a purposeful jab often followed by blinding left hooks which left Konkco on the defensive.
Menayothin switched tactics in the middle rounds, alternating between jabbing his way inside and charging in with lead rights. Koncko sought to respond in kind, with the local favorite wisely clinching his way out of even the threat of trouble. It kept the challenger off balance and out of rhythm, which Menayothin used to his advantage in scoring the bout’s lone knockdown which came courtesy of a flurry just before the bell to end round seven.
As the fight ventured past eight rounds, Konkco was reminded through the joy of open scoring that his chances of an upset would come down to a dramatic knockout. Menayothin led by margins of six, seven and eight points after eight rounds. Menayothin hardly sat on his lead, although he was noticeably less aggressive down the stretch. Instead, the unbeaten champ boxed wisely, daring Konkco to take the lead as he set traps and countered with crisp jabs.
A late surge by Konkco punctuated his valiant effort, although emphasizing what boiled down to an insurmountable task. The 32-year old contender took whatever openings were offered, connecting to the body but failing to land the type of shot he needed in order to avoid the inevitable.
The loss ends Konkco’s fivc-fight unbeaten streak as he heads home with a record of 19-6 (7KOs). The loss marks his second shortcoming on the title stage, having dropped a competitive but clear 12-round decision to countryman Hekkie Budler in their Sept. 2015 strawweight title fight.
Meanwhile, the celebration is doubly sweet for Menayothin (54-0, 13KOs). The win comes two days before his 34th birthday, and also a little more than a week prior to his upcoming five-year anniversary as a defending titlist. The run began with a knockout win over Oswaldo Novoa, having since claimed 18 wins—12 in title defenses along with six stay-busy fights—in further extending his cult status among those who use his record to suggest he’s surpassed Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the annals of boxing history, based on the latter’s self-reference as TBE (The Best Ever) and touting of the 50-0 mark he reached in leaving the game for good in 2017.
The truth is that Menayothin has a long way to go to even generate a reasonable argument, and a destination at which he will likely never arrive. He also remains far off from the all-time mark for most successful strawweight title defenses, held by Hall of Fame former lineal 105-pound champion (and junior flyweight titlist) Ricardo Lopez, who retired with a 51-0-1 record.
For now, he boasts the longest active unbeaten streak among major titlists and his place atop the strawweight division.
The bout aired live on Channel 7 in Thailand, as well as on the network’s website.