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Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu

Daily Drama - Blaming Referees, Gamblers, Meetings and Mahem

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On Saturday there was a fight between American fighter Ongjen Topic, fighting out of P.K. Saenchaigym and Chalawan, who was formerly training with Attachai Muay Thai Gym but has been inactive (got married, moved down South) for the past 3 years since winning a Rajadamnern Stadium title.

The very short version goes like this: Ongjen got counted in round 3 and, coincidentally the live TV broadcast cut off after that round (just a coincidence of time). The rest of the fight was only seen by those in the stadium or those who had some kind of online feed. In round 5, Chalawan was counted during a skirmish and then Ongjen was also knocked down but wasn't counted by the ref during a similar skirmish. Ongjen won on points and a very well-known gambler actually jumped into the ring to protest the decision. It was crazy and video/photos of it were everywhere.

Here's the 5th round: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?extid=CL-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C&v=1368466243610995

The gambler's complaint was that the referee had unfairly not counted Topic, basically handing the round to him. Had the referee counted Topic for what was pretty much the same kind of knock down/slip that he'd counted Chalawan for, the round would have been even. On the scorecards, the 3rd was 10-8 for Chalawan and the 5th, because Topic wasn't counted, was 10-8 for Topic.

There have been countless updates, videos, explanations and comments on this issue over the past few days. Mainly, there are comments saying Topic won the fight anyway through his strategy and using "more weapons" than Chalawan, so the point about the count is moot. Others are saying the ref counting Chalawan and not Topic in round 5 is clearly cheating. And even more than either of those are people sighing and saying that the gambler jumping into the ring to protest, the argument over the count, the accusations of cheating are all together something we have come to expect from nearly every fight card and this will be the end of Muay Thai.

What the people who actually have a say in this are saying is that the referee has taken responsibility and come out to say that he made a mistake in not counting Topic in round 5. There will be a meeting with Sia Moo, the head of Omnoi Stadium, where this fight took place, as well as the referees and judges, to discuss this mistake. They will not, however, be changing the result of the fight (which would cancel the bets, so the gambler who jumped in the ring is not getting what he wanted). There was also a stern warning from Sia Moo that if gamblers behave like this, storming the ring, he will simply no longer allow gamblers to enter the stadium at all, which is what Lumpinee has done in their most recent incarnation.

Here's the fight in full so you can watch for yourselves. I was watching on TV and thought Chalawan's response to nearly knocking out Ongjen in round 3 was... bizarre. But, he hasn't fought in a long time and I do know that sometimes you don't know how close your opponent is to being done when everyone outside is screaming at you because they can see the affects that you can't... so, my view is just my view from watching TV. Ongjen was absolutely the more busy fighter, Chalawan is more accurate and more on balance; we're at a time in Muay Thai's scoring transformation that I don't know how judges favor those very different aesthetics, but the scorecards for this one are a pretty clear indication.

Full fight, introduced by Mister Pong (a very famous sport reporter and announcer): 


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