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Suriyan Sor Rungvisai: “I am not afraid of anyone at super flyweight.”

By Anson Wainwright


Just over a year ago an unknown young fighter from Thailand, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, challenged one of the greatest Thai fighters of all time Pongsaklek Wongjongkam for his WBC flyweight title. To many, it looked like a mismatch; however, those closest to him believed they saw something special in Suriyan. As it turned out, it was no tune-up for the old master when the young pupil almost upset the apple cart giving the legendary Pongsaklek all he could handle before losing a razor-thin unanimous decision. 
 
Undeterred, the 22-year-old, originally from Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast of Thailand won four fights over the next ten months before his handlers lured WBC super flyweight champion Tomas Rojas to Thailand. This time, Suriyan couldn’t be denied, winning a unanimous decision. He’s since followed the victory with an impressive win over another experienced former world champion Nobuo Nashiro of Japan. Despite only recently winning the title, Suriyan is considered by many to be the best super flyweight in the world.

His promoter/manager Surachart Pisitwuttinan met Suriyan when he was a Muay Thai fighter and kept a close eye on him, saying, “There was a time when [Suriyan] lacked supporters, so I promoted him to fight under my promotion. He showed us an extraordinary progress both in the gym and during his fights and that is why I and the co-promoter, Senator Srisuk Rungvisai, decided to give him world title shots against Pongsaklek Wongjongkam and Tomas Rojas. People thought both title fights were complete mismatched but we knew from the beginning that they were wrong. Suriyan then showed everyone what he is capable of. He showed us impressive performances and he is now a WBC world champion.
 
“Personally, Suriyan is a good boy with good manners,” the promoter continued. “Despite the hard work that he put in training, he is also very sharp and smart. He is capable of taking anything we taught him during training and adapt those skills and knowledge on the ring according to different situations. Thai medias are calling him “Genius Boy” right now. Apart from that, he has an incredibly strong heart.” 
 
Unlike many of his young contemporaries in the West with a sense of entitlement who are given regular TV dates without serving any sort of apprenticeship, Suriyan actually learned his trade the hard way. Surachart said, “He used to travel around Asia and fought all the top fighters when he was only 16, 17 years old. That was extremely impressive for me as a promoter. He definitely has all the qualities to be a great champion and I knew that from the very beginning.”
 
Suriyan holds a distinctively average record of 20-4-1 (7), giving good leverage to the fact that a fighter can learn more from a defeat than a win. It certainly didn’t harm Suriyan, who quietly got on with learning his trade. The tough love approach seems to have paid dividends and over the coming years, he may just prove his handler’s assessment correct and develop into Pongsaklek’s successor as Thailand’s next great fighter.
 
Anson Wainwright - Hello Suriyan, welcome to Maxboxing.com. You recently retained your WBC super flyweight title for the first time, beating former world champion Nobuo Nashiro on points. What can you tell us about the fight? How happy were you with your performance?
 
Suriyan Sor Rungvisai – Hello, everyone. Thank you very much for your interest in me. It is such an honour to be interviewed by the famous international boxing website, Maxboxing.com. I am very happy with my performance because everything was according to our plan. Nashiro is a great fighter but we planned and prepared for this fight very carefully and the efforts paid off in the ring. I am personally very happy and proud that I could beat the two-time world champion like Nobuo Nashiro unanimously. It is now proven that I am at the top of the division and I am more than ready to fight anyone.

AW - It’s early days but do you know when you may fight next? Also, do you know who you may face?
 
SSR - As a world champion, I am more than ready to fight anybody. However, this all depends on my manager and I believe that he will make the best decision for me.
 
AW - How has life changed for you since winning the world title? 
 
SSR - Life has changed. More people know me and I am having a better living. I am able to build a house for my parents and buy land that we have been always dreaming of and I am very proud of that.

AW - Can you tell us about your team and where you train?
 
SSR - My manager and promoter is Mr. Surachart Pisitwuttinan. My co-promoter and manager is Senator Srisuk Rungvisai. My trainer is “Professor Pop”, Mr. Chokchai Pisitwuttinan. I am trained in Nakornluang Promotion Gym, which is one of the best gyms in Thailand during the last decades.  

AW - The training in Thailand is supposed to be very tough. Can you tell us about your training? How many hours a day do you train and what sort of things do you do, sparring, weights, running etc.?
 
SSR - Yes, we do have tough training programs here in Thailand. For our gym, we train two times per day. In the morning, we run for 20 kilometres, followed by seven rounds of pad working. In the afternoon, we do sparring and pad working for eight-to-12 rounds, then we do the basic exercises.

AW - You fought Thai legend Pongsaklek Wongjongkam in October 2010. You lost a very close unanimous decision to him. Looking back, what can you tell us about the fight? Do you think you won and how did fighting someone like Pongsaklek help you develop and gain confidence?
 
SSR - With all the respect to the judges, referee, and Pongsaklek, I am confident that I won the fight. I took control in the early rounds but I was still behind on the scorecard. Moreover, I was deducted one point from an accidental headbutt. We did not have much choice but to go aggressive at Pongsaklek in late rounds and that was not on our game plan. However, I think that I did enough to win the fight.
 
Looking at the other side of the story, the fight was extremely beneficial to me. I am a lot stronger physically and mentally after that fight. I also have more confidence. I gave the legend a very hard time, so I knew that I was already at the level where I could fight and beat anyone in the world in the same weight division.
 
If possible, I would like to have a rematch with him once again but I think this might not be possible because we are fighting in a different weight class now. However, my manager told me that he will let my brother, Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai, fight Pongsaklek instead of me in the near future. I believe that my brother will be able to match up with Pongsaklek because my brother is even more gifted than me. His boxing career just started not very long ago but he has a long career in Muay Thai. He is only 19 years old but he has already shown an impressive performance against more experienced fighters. Please keep an eye on him, Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai AKA Nawaphon Por Chokchai.        

AW - You were born in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. Can you tell us about your early years growing up and how tough things were for you?
 
SSR - I fought Muay Thai since I was around seven years old. Back then, I got only 100-200 baht per fight (two-to-five Euros/$3.16-$6.32 US), which is not enough for the expenses of my family but I kept on fighting because I wanted to gain more experience as I planned to be a world champion one day. This is generally how it works in Thailand. We started off fighting Muay Thai and some of us switched to boxing at a point in time. I always have a plan to be in boxing. In fact, my nickname is “Mike” because my father named me after Mike Tyson.   
 
AW - Can you tell us about your Muay Thai career and how the move to boxing came about?
 
SSR - My manager, Surachart, found me and supported me to fight in boxing. I was very happy to join his Nakornluang Promotion Gym since it is a great gym with top achievements and history. From what I remember, we already won six world titles and more than 10 WBC Asia and WBC International titles. Among these titles, some of them belong to Veeraphol Nakornluang, my hero and Thai legend, and also Sirimongkol Singmanassuk, a former two-time WBC world champion.

AW - Can you tell us a little about yourself as a person and what you like to do with your spare time?
 
SSR - I believe in good deeds and I do not take people for granted. I am sincere and I always return good things to those who are good to me. I am also very determined. I did whatever it took me to be the world champion. Now, I will do whatever it takes for me to step forward even further.
 
During my spare time, I usually watch movies and listen to music.

AW - What do you think of the super flyweight division and its titlists, the WBA’s Tomonobu Shimizu, the WBA “interim” champion Tepparith Singwancha/Kokietgym, the IBF’s Rodrigo Guerrero and the WBO’s Omar Narvaez?
 
SSR - First of all, super flyweight is the best weight class for me and I feel very comfortable in this weight. I am not afraid of anyone in this weight class. In fact, I want to fight with everyone if I have a chance. This includes all the champions that you mentioned and also the Kameda brothers (Koki, Daiki and Tomoki). You might not know this but I have beaten Tepparith already in the past. 

AW - Now that you are a world champion, what goals do you still have in boxing?
 
SSR - There are several goals that I still want to achieve. This includes fighting and printing my name abroad, especially in Las Vegas. I really want to fight the big fights there in Las Vegas in front of the biggest fans in the world.
 
I also want to be a three-weight class world champion. I think this is possible because I am still very young and I can grow bigger.  

AW – Finally, do you have a message for boxing fans in Europe and America?
 
SSR - I would like to persuade the boxing fans in Europe and America to pay more attention to Asian fighters. We have all the qualities to entertain them with great fights just like what Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire have provided.
 
My senior at Nakornluang Promotion Gym, Veerapol Nakornluang, has been to Paris twice to successfully defend his WBC bantamweight title. I am also determined to show my performance abroad especially in Europe and America. If I get a chance to go there, I will definitely give my best and show everyone what I am capable of and you will get to know me more. Until then, please keep on following me. You can also follow and contact me on my Facebook fan page, www.facebook.com/suriyan.boxer.Thank you very much.
 
Contact Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk


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