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Sponsor happy despite low-key fight at top of bill , 25/10/2009

Twenty-two year-old Noknoi Sithiprasert, a farmer's son from Krabi, has been picked as the WBC's best Youth title holder and will be honoured at the 47th World Boxing Council convention next month in Jeju, Korea.

The southpaw thrilled hundreds of fans at a jam-packed open-air arena by Krabi beach on Thursday in a non-title fight.

The crowd cheered Noknoi lustily throughout the eight rounds the fight lasted.

Noknoi was pitted against tall Filipino Joel Rafols, who was two pounds over the light-flyweight limit of 108lb.

The honoured guest of the contest Dr. Pong Visedpaitoon, the chief operating officer of Charoen Phokphand Foods, said the fight illustrated what makes boxing outstanding.

"It builds courage, creates brave young Thais and encourages them to bring fame to the Kingdom," he said. "I was excited throughout the fight because Noknoi faced an uphill task.

"He bravely took up the challenge and unfolded a memorable victory.

"It was a performance which made the people Krabi proud along with every Thai who watched him on television.

"That is why I have supported boxing over the past 20 years."

Noknoi had won six of the eight rounds which had been completed, when he unleashed a deadly body attack and followed it up with an uppercut which caught Rafols on his wind-pipe and sent him down for the long count.

The fight was over at 2:30 of the eighth round.

In a post-fight interview Noknoi said he had a sprained right hand, and was in pain throughout the contest. "Each time I punched it hurt me," he said.

Dr. Pong recalled how, when he was in charge of workers, he had settled disputes by making workers engage in fisticuffs.

"I never prolonged enmity and extended animosities in my workplace," he said.

"I made them settle their quarrels after work and that helped the problems.

"It created a new unity among workers."

The promoter of the fight, Piyarat Vaciraratanawongse, and the owner of Petchyindee Boxing Promotion, ViratVachiratanawongse were happy, because the fight had solved many problems they had faced in the build-up.

Originally they had planned to hold the WBC strawweight title fight between world champion Oledong Sithsamerchai and Juan Palacios of Venezuela, but Don King who manages Palacios, claimed his boxer wasn't ready.

Mr. Virat then asked Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to fight but he ran a temperature during training and had to pull out.

When Noknoi's opponent Rafols lost his battle on the scales, the promoters were up against another big hurdle.

The fight had to be declared a non-title fight.

"This result, no doubt has brought great relief to everyone," observed Dr. Pong.

"I know what a difference weight makes, especially in the lower divisions.

"For a small-made light-flyweight like Noknoi it was tough. But the brave Thai took up the challenge, went after his opponent, and knocked him out.

"That is what I liked in him. Boxing creates brave hearts." he said.

Also held on the same card was an eight-bout Muay Thai Marathon, featuring eight fighters for a purse of 500,000 baht.

The winner, Chartchai Noi Sorprasodchok was awarded 300,000 baht and the runner-up Prethran Sor Yupinda received 200,000 baht.

The whole programme in Krabi was mainly sponsored by Toyota and Charoen Pokphand Foods.

Edward Thangarajah is on the WBC Youth championship committee.

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