On March 2 in Thailand, legendary flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam took to the ring for what was expected to be a routine title defense against Filipino banger Sonny Boy Jaro, a limited journeyman foe who had 10 losses to his name and wasn't expected to be anything more than a potentially game challenger who would be outclassed and easily defeated.
Jaro talked himself up big before the fight, which most ignored. Then, he delivered. Flooring Pongsaklek in the first, third, and sixth rounds (twice), he physically overpowered a shaky champion on a rainy day in Chonburi, forcing referee Yuji Fukuchi to stop the beatdown in the sixth round, with Pongsaklek crumbled on the canvas.
Jaro's title reign wouldn't last, as he dropped the WBC title to Toshiyuki Igarashi by split decision in July. But for four months, he was the recognized world champion at 112 pounds, and nobody really saw it coming.
Josesito Lopez's jaw-breaking upset of Victor Ortiz on June 23, which was the biggest upset story of the year for most American fans, came in second.
|Sonny Boy Jaro vs Pongsaklek Wonjongkam||5||0||1||27|
|Josesito Lopez vs Victor Ortiz||1||3||2||18|
|Mario Rodriguez vs Nkosinathi Joyi||0||1||2||7|
|Kerry Hope vs Grzegorz Proksa||0||2||0||6|
|Randall Bailey vs Mike Jones||1||0||0||5|
|Danny Garcia vs Amir Khan||0||1||0||3|
|Gamaliel Diaz vs Takahiro Ao||0||0||1||2|
|Denis Grachev vs Ismayl Sillakh||0||0||1||2|
|Timothy Bradley vs Manny Pacquiao||0||0||1||2|
I was surprised by all of the outcomes that received votes. For me, it first came down to Pongsaklek-Jaro and Ortiz-Lopez, and I don't think it's any question that Jaro beating an all-time great flyweight and the reigning real world's champion is bigger than Josesito breaking Vicious Victor's jaw. That's why I voted that fight as the top upset of the year, because it was the top upset of the year.
But I will say that I was far more emotionally invested in Ortiz-Lopez. While Jaro knocking off Wonjongkam was a big deal, it didn't really have the sort of domino effect that Lopez beating Ortiz did. If Pongsaklek had won, he would have done what he always has done, and the division wouldn't have changed much. Ortiz lost a money fight with Canelo Alvarez as a result of his upset loss, which set up Canelo-Lopez, which pushed Canelo off PPV, which allowed for Chavez Jr-Martinez to stay on September 15 and run on PPV, which set up one of the biggest and still most frustrating nights of the year.
Still, I voted Lopez over Ortiz third in the end, behind the winner, as well as Mario Rodriguez's upset of Nkosinathi Joyi, another one I really, really didn't see coming. American viewer impact says Ortiz-Lopez, but other stuff says no. The only thing that even remotely argues against Jaro's win getting the award is the valuable hindsight we have now that tells us Pongsaklek probably lost it out of the ring before we saw him lose it in the ring; the Thai veteran bounced back with four easy wins before being knocked out by journeyman Rey Migreno in November, ending his career.
Sure, there was some wear on his tires heading into the bout, but a fighter of Wonjongkam's class losing to Sonny Boy Jaro was easily the the biggest upset of 2012. I didn't even list the fight on the BLH pick'em game line-up... that's how little chance I thought Jaro had!
Really there is no option besides going with Jaro over Wonjongkam. Wonjongkam was widely still regarded as a top 10 P4P fighter and is one of the greatest flyweights of all time. Jaro on the other hand was a journeyman with 10 losses on his record and no notable wins to speak of.