Thirty-nine years ago, Thailand’s Saensak Muangsurin made history by becoming a world boxing champion in only his third professional fight. Saensak turned pro in November 1974 with a first-round knockout victory. He won his second paid contest in February 1975 and just five months later, July 1975, became a world champion by stopping Perico Fernandez in 8 rounds for the World Boxing Council junior welterweight (140 pounds) championship.
By dethroning Fernandez, Saensak set a world record for taking the shortest time to win a world title. He became a world champion just eight months after turning pro and in only his third ring appearance. No other fighter has come close to breaking the record until recently, when Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko challenged World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight (126 pounds) champion Orlando Salido of Mexico in only his second professional bout.
Despite reporting for the fight with a battle-tested record of 40-12 with 28 knockouts, Salido was tabbed as the underdog opposite the highly touted Lomachenko. You can say that it is so easy to be awed by Lomachenko’s amateur record; he won two Olympic gold medals and overall compiled an astonishing win-loss record of 396-1 as a simon-pure. The only loss against Russian Albert Selimov was controversial and Lomachenko crushed the former when they met in a rematch.
Lomachenko turned pro in October 2013 with a fourth round knockout of Jose “Negro” Ramirez, the same Mexican who had previously defeated Filipino Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista. Just how confident was Lomachenko entering the pro ring? His first match was set for 10 rounds and his opponent Ramirez offered a credible win-loss record of 25-3. Lomachenko ended up dispatching Ramirez with relative ease.
Expectations were predictably stratospheric when Lomachenko challenged Salido for the WBO featherweight title. Not a few thought Saensak’s record was on the verge of being toppled. Salido, however, was in no mood to play the role of a willing accomplice. Unmindful of being stripped of the WBO title, Salido weighed in at 128.2 pounds, 2.2 pounds above the 126-pound limit. When the fighters touched gloves for the start of the fight, Salido’s weight had ballooned and he was actually 11 pounds heavier than Lomachenko. The veteran Salido is not new to ignoring the rulebook, having once tested positive for banned substances. Salido was stripped of the WBO title after the weigh-in and the belt became available only for Lomachenko.
Salido turned out to be the stronger fighter and Lomachenko, either because he felt the extra weight or was plainly intimidated by his foe’s brawling (translation: dirty) style, seemed hesitant to engage in the early rounds. Lomachenko did not open up until the 12th and final round, when he furiously attacked Salido in a last-ditch bid for a knockout win. Salido was visibly hurt, but he unabashedly locked Lomachenko’s arms to prevent the latter from further unloading bombs. When the rosin of battle settled, Salido emerged victorious with a split-decision.
To his credit, Lomachenko, whose pro ledger now stands at 1-1, offered no excuses, even when some reporters opined that he could have won had Salido fought at the same weight. On the other hand, Top Rank Promotions head honcho Bob Arum came away impressed and promised Lomachenko an immediate world title shot.
Lomachenko is definitely a gifted fighter, and it may only be a matter of time before he realizes his dream of becoming a world champion. By his own admission though, Lomachenko wanted his coronation to be record-breaking. With the loss to Salido, Lomachenko can only dream of duplicating Saensak’s record if he ends up fighting for a world title again in his next fight. Then again, even if Lomachenko wins a world title in his third fight, Saensak’s feat will still get the nod of historians because the Thai became a world champ by going 3-0.
From where this writer sits, it will serve Lomachenko well to follow the usual route to the world title, and this means getting more seasoning in the pro ranks before aiming for the crown. As the old adage goes, ‘haste makes waste.’
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