Sonny Boy Jaro of the Philippines knocked out Pongsaklek Wonjongkam this morning in the sixth round in Thailand, claiming the world flyweight championship in a fairly shocking upset.
For Jaro (34-10-5, 24 KO) this is without question, far and away the biggest win of his career, and an early birthday present to himself, as the fighter turns 30 on March 24. He scored a knockdown on Pongsaklek (83-4-2, 44 KO) in the first round, but it was hard to tell exactly what was going on. The Thai legend had trouble getting his footing through the entire fight, stumbling and bumbling around the ring.
When he did find chances to dictate the fight, Pongsaklek was squared up and fighting largely with just his left hand, landing some decent straight shots, but he just didn't look like himself. Part of the issue may have been a slippery ring; it had rained prior to the fight, but even still, Jaro didn't have nearly the same problems, and his aggressive, come-forward style simply was too much for the defending champion.
Wonjongkam fared better in the second and third rounds than he did in the first, evening up the fight, but was down again in the fourth, and while it appeared a legitimate knockdown, the referee ruled a slip (and it may have been, as video quality was not great for us). But late in the same round, Jaro floored him hard, leaving no doubt, and putting Wonjongkam on jelly legs. The bell saved the champion before Jaro could pounce.
In the sixth, it was all over. Jaro put Wonjongkam down again, and once again it was a clean, hard knockdown. This time, though, he had a chance to take advantage of that, and didn't waste it. Raining down blows with both hands, the underdog crumbled the champion against the ropes and to the canvas, with the referee leaping in to put a halt to the fight.
This is really a hell of an underdog story. If the conditions are to be blamed, I say again that both men had to fight under the same conditions. A rematch is probably in order, as Pongsaklek is a beloved WBC champion (and in his case, he's earned it), but Japan's Toshiyuki Igarashi (15-1-1, 10 KO) is also in line for a shot, as he won an eliminator in his last bout.
At 34, Wonjongkam is getting old for a flyweight, and even the best fighters get old and don't have what they used to have anymore. He was stiff, he didn't look good out there, and he got hammered down by a tough fighter, but not one who was expected to really give him much trouble.
Congratulations to Sonny Boy Jaro, who becomes the fourth current major titlist from the Philippines (joining Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire, and Brian Viloria), and the only one who holds a legitimate world championship at the moment.