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Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu

Big Fight Card of Young Talent Featuring Jojo Derjat vs Naksu TopGuard Gym

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On December 6th there was a big fight card in Chonburi city, at a stadium that was a temporary host to the Omnoi fights when Bangkok was still closed. The whole card was full of young fighters, starting out with some of the biggest names with Yodpetek and Yodpettoh Boomdeksian (twins, 12 years old), as well as Jojo Dejrat (under the care of Arjan Surat and carrying the gym name, which is a huge deal because almost nobody who trains under him uses the gym name anymore) versus the very-much underdog fighter from Rambaa's gym in Pattaya, Naksu TopGuard. 

Jojo is well known in Thailand already as a young talant. At 13 years old he most recently fought with a huge side bet against Yodpetek, which ended in a draw. For this fight against Rambaa's young prospect, there was a 100,000 Baht side bet (a little under $3000 usd). Naksu worked with Yodkhunpon for about a week before this fight, sharpening up his elbows, and Rambaa trains his kids hard regardless. If you're fighting a Baan Rambaa fighter, you're getting a tough kid, hands down.

The entire night of fights has been lauded as a success, news sources pointing out that the fights were all 5 rounds (in contrast to the increasingly common 3 round matches, partly popular at the moment due to Covid restrictions) and were all exciting from round 1-5 (a sly criticism of a new rule that has directed referees to stop a fight due to "non engagement" if the fighters dance around too much, which has been enforced twice now, in round 5 on the Main Event fights of two major promotions).

Naksu won the decision and the 100,000 Baht side bet. Jojo's manager (not Arjan Surat) published a diplomatic but clear complaint with the outcome: "In sports there are wins and losses. If the judges of this promotion decide this way that's their prerogative, but they don't need to book my fighters anymore." To be fair, whenever there's a substantial side bet on a fight, the losing side is more or less obligated to argue against the decision. However, below you will see another announcement that "Soh Eh," the owner of Jitmuangnon Gym and the promoter of the Muay Dee Wittitai show on Sundays, has announced that she is interested in promoting a rematch between Naksu and Jojo on her show, although no date has yet been announced.

This is exciting to see that the future of Muay Thai is, at least at this moment, doing well in the talent of young male fighters and promoters are interested in fostering that.

Watch the full fight Jojo vs Naksu

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Naksu after the decision, above

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The head of Jitmuangnon announcing that she wants a rematch on her promotion in Nontaburi, above

 

 

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Rambaa celebrating at the victory, above

You can watch the full fight card with lots of young talent here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=search&v=432460228448118

 

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There are probably two things that are the hope for Thailand's traditional form of Muay Thai as many promotions bend toward "entertainment" and tourist-oriented fighting. The first is higher level provincial fighting which is usually fought under and older, more traditional aesthetic involving long clinch exchanges, old school scoring, and (usually) even matched opponents. The second is young Thai fighters, coming up. If young Thai fighters aren't invested in and systematically supported, if we lose a half generation or more of Muay Thai excellence the Muay Thai of Thailand itself is at risk. As complex as questions of child fighting are - and they are - the reason why Thailand has the best fighters in the world is because they have the best young fighters in the world. Cards like this under traditional rules are what that is made of.

This fight featured two gyms that are part of that old world. Arjan Surat runs an extremely Old School gym in Bangkok and does everything the old way. It's kaimuay Muay Thai. His name in building champions is legendary and spans decades. Rambaa is just an ex-fighter who runs a small gym in Pattaya, training almost entirely kids on a very slim budget, most of them without charging. Big gyms and powers come and sweep up his fighters once they show promise. He just keeps building more great fighters. It feels special to have Arjan Surat and Rambaa's fighters face each other.

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