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Unpopular champions: Daorung Chuwatana


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This Thai bantamweight has won both his world titles more or less by default: first one against John Michael Johnson, by a very controversial technical decision. He also defended his both titles by technical decisions and a controversial split decision and a split draw. Chuwatana was what you might call a "homegrown champion", as he'd never become one if those fights weren't held in his homeland and against foreign fighters. Let's take a look at his career.


His real name is Surapol Sidangnoi and he was born 1 April 1969 in Uttaraditt, Thailand, where he also grew up. He started his pro career already at 16, in 1985, and first fought as a flyweight and super flyweight. Early on, he lost 4 times, twice to Petchainart Donjadee, but then started winning in 1988. He went undefeated for 18 fights, winning 17 and drawing one, and also winning the national bantam title in the process, beating Somsak Srichan by UD10 in November 1989. In June 1990 however, he was stopped by Eun-Shik Lee fighting in South Korea, by TKO8. It was his first loss by stoppage. In October 1991 he won the Oriental bantam title by a technical decision (also!) in 7 rounds, against another South Korean, Young-Chun Min. After defending it twice, he got to challenge for the WBA title against John Michael Johnson of San Antonio, Texas. Johnson had taken the title from the dangerous Junior Jones by a TKO11 and was the favorite to win, however the fight was for some reason in the challenger's hometown of Uttaradit. After getting cut by what appeared to be a headbutt in round 1, Johnson was unable to continue. However, the corrupt referee declared the cut had come from a punch and thus awarded the victory and the title to the home favorite! It was 16 July 1994, a date when Chuwatana first became the unpopular and unworthy world champion. Already in his first defense, he again won by a technical decision, this time in 5 rounds, against In Shik Go, who came in undefeated at 12-0. In his second defense, he faced another unbeaten fighter, the 11-0 Vichit Lampmee and after 12 rounds the fight was judged to be a split draw. The judge who awarded Chuwatana the victory was unknown and didn't judge that many fights, it appears. A seasoned Japanese judge, Kenjiro Makizumi, scored the fight for the challenger by 115-114. However, this reign could not last forever and Chuwatana lost the title in his third defense: to his compatriot Veeraphol Sahaprom, by SD. One judge gave Chuwatana the victory but by a point while the other two had Sahaprom clearly ahead, by 3 and 5 points. It was Sahaprom's only fourth pro fight.


That happened on 17 September 1995 but Chuwatana wouldn't have to wait that long for another world title shot. After beating 4 easy opponents, 3 of them by TKO, he then challenged the guy who had taken the same title he himself once held from Sahaprom: Nana Yaw Konadu. Konadu was one of the best fighters in the division back then. He was from Ghana, but the fight again took place in Thailand, 27 October 1996. It was stopped after 10 rounds, due to some sort of injury, and Chuwatana was once again proclaimed the new champion because he was ahead on all scorecards. Chuwatana then defended against the future IBF super flyweight champion, Felix Machado of Venezuela, and once again had to settle for a split decision with close scores. When he FINALLY went outside Thailand to defend his WBA title, in a rematch with Konadu, he lost. It was at Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida, 21 June 1997, when Konadu ended Chuwatana's reign and career for good by stopping him by a TKO7. Revenge gained. Chuwatana was firmly behind on the scorecards at the time, except on one which had him behind by a point. The unworthy champion thus retired after 12 years as a pro, aged 28 and with a record of 61(36)-7-3.

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