Songfangkong fought again last night, after weeks of preparation and build up for what might have been the final bout between the young fighters.
The two had clashed twice before, with Songfangkong emerging victorious both times, and the pressure was high: not only was the young fighter 2-0, but the camps had agreed to a significant side bets.
Tan gave the fight its full due, the seriousness of the event evident in his training, the intensity spilling over in the rest of the gym: space opened on the small, crowded floor as people stopped to watch, the older boxers taking extra time to work with him to refine his technique.
“All of my body hurts when I wake up,” Tan said when he took a rare morning off to have his calves massaged, “I’m running four laps [approximately 12km] every day.”
And then, the day before weigh-ins, his opponent disappeared.
In the last-minute shuffle, he was replaced by a fighter who had not cut weight, and on Wednesday morning Songfangkong weighed in at 120lbs against Kwaeng Gongtorani’s 128lbs.
Songfangkong, still finding his rhythm in the first and second rounds, dropped behind early, and his opponent’s lead was solidified by a series of skillful takedowns in the third. Songfangkong spent the fourth and fifth rounds playing catch-up, stalking down a larger opponent who knew he was ahead.
Although he wasn’t able to pull out the win, Tan stayed calm and focused. The intensity he’s been showing during training translated nicely in the ring as he played the aggressor, driving a full three rounds of clinch.
A long way from the young boy who used to cry in the corner of the ring.
More to come.
Photos from Muay Siam below.