Tewa Kiram: A big Thai fighter
The first thing you notice about Tewa Kiram, who faces Lucas Matthysse, this Saturday night, at the Forum near Los Angeles, on HBO, is his size. Unlike most boxers from Thailand, whom generally fight below the featherweight class, Kiram towers over most of his countrymen by more than just a few inches.
Last week at a media day held by Golden Boy Promotions, at the Westside Boxing Club, Walter Sarnoi (also a professional fighter) acted as Kiram’s interpreter for the assembled media. Sarnoi, who grew up in Southern California, admitted that not only is Kiram the largest boxer from his country he’s ever laid eyes on but that “I’ve never seen a Thai guy this big before.”
This ain’t no pint-sized Thai.
“I know that,” said Kiram through Sarnoi. “I’m the biggest Thai person, at 147.”
When asked where he got his stature from, he answered, “My dad is big but my mom is small.”
While flyweights and bantamweights are plentiful in Thailand, welterweights are not. With that, sparring was imported. Kiram explained, “I had to get some Thai athletes but I also had to get sparring partners from China, from the Philippines and we had to pay them to come to Thailand.”
Looking at Kiram – who comes in with a mark of 38-0 (28) – you see that, in many respects, he resembles Viktor Postol, who defeated Matthysse back in 2015. He’s tall, rangy and has an educated left jab. The difference is Kiram is a much more aggressive fighter, who fights off his front foot much more. “I can move; I can box and I can fight, if I need to,” he said in describing himself.
However Kiram isn’t just a pure boxer. In watching a few of his fights, it’s obvious that he isn’t afraid to mix it up.
The big question is: Can this translate to a much higher caliber of opposition? Per Kiram’s BoxRec page, 37 of his 38 bouts have come in Thailand and he hasn’t exactly been matched with King Kong or Godzilla. Up to this point, his record is more quantity than quality.
How will he handle the heavy hands of “The Machine”? That is the great unknown coming into this contest.
But Sarnoi pointed out, “Lucas Matthysse is coming up from a smaller weight class to a bigger weight class, so I think it’s not going to be an easy walk in the park, as they think.”
So can Kiram be a Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to Matthysse’s Roman Gonzalez?
“Absolutely,” Sarnoi stated, “because Mattysse’s a naturally strong puncher but, for (Kiram) – can he feel that punch?”
For Kiram, this is his first bout in the United States and his first appearance on American television. You never know how a boxer will react once on that big stage, in a foreign environment. So is he ready for all this?
Kiram said simply, “I’ve been training for a long time for this and to be prepared for this – the fight of my life.”
While Kiram (whose real name is Teerachai Sithmorseng) is a big Thai, is this fight a big deal to the local Thai community in Southern California?
“Once this guy wins the world title, and once fighters like Rungvisai fight here and they make a statement, they’ll be more available to the mainstream Thai people and they’ll make that noise,” said Sarnoi. Rungvisai will be headlining the “SuperFly 2” card on February 24, at the Forum, in Inglewood, California, as he defends his WBC 115-pound title versus Juan Francisco Estrada.
So did Rungvisai’s victories over “Chocolatito” in 2017 resonate with the Thai community?
“In Thailand, yes; it was big,” answered Sarnoi. “He was honored. It was his dream to be a police officer, so they offered him a job. So it’s a big thing in Thailand.”
As for what kind of support Kiram will receive this weekend, Sarnoi says, “I know the consulate is aware of this and they’ll be coming to the fight. I know that once the Thai community is aware, they’ll be coming to support but I know, once he wins, it’s going to be a wrap.”
Showtime will be rolling out its upcoming Premier Boxing Champions schedule; according to a press release, they will “present fighters and matchups from 10 events across the first half of 2018, a lineup featuring 12 world champions and as many as 12 world championship fights.”
One of the fights that is expected to be announced is WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson against Badou Jack. There were reports from Canada that this fight was not going to happen and that Stevenson would instead (finally) face his mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez.
But Stevenson’s promoter Yvon Michel told UCNLive.com (via text), “Everything is on line with the plans and there was no complications, at any time of the process.”
Yeah, I think Kiram will give Matthysse a real tussle…It was announced that Jermall Charlo-Hugo Centeno Jr. will be the co-feature at the Barclays Center on March 3 (in support of the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz main event) but no network was given, so draw your own conclusions…Are the Cavaliers imploding?…”The Bad News Bears” will never get old to me; what a classic. the MLB Network just recently aired it again…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.