By Derek Bonnett:
Mexico’s Juan Hernandez captured his first world title belt at National Stadium Gymnasium in Bangkok, Thailand with a victory over unbeaten local favorite Nawaphon Kaikanha. Hernandez, 30, has been collecting some credible belts on his resume since dropping a competitive, but decisive decision to Kazuto Ioka in a minimumweight bout back in 2011.
Hernandez controlled the action by employing exceptional footage to create tight angles at which he targeted the Thai boxer on the inside. Hernandez used his bounce to circle Nawaphon and lure him into chasing him around the ring. Hernandez landed quick counters, but was twice nailed in the chest and pushed back by the power behind the Thai boxer’s punches. Round two was a close affair as Hernandez landing exceptional well down the middle with his jab. However, Nawaphon twice turned the Mexican’s head with hooks. The slippery canvas may have added to Hernandez’ wobble the second time around, but Nawaphon’s point was clear: he was in this fight to win it. Hernandez uppercut was particularly useful at the start of round three. However, the action was briefly halted to dry a wet corner after Hernandez lost his footing twice momentarily. Hernandez returned to working his uppercut and stunned Nawaphon long enough to followed up with several shots, punctuated by a left hook. Nawaphon hit the canvas in a manner very reminiscent of Greg Haugen in the early goings of round one against the great Julio Cesar Chavez. Like Haugen, Nawaphon rose quickly. The Thai fighter was overwhelmed and kept on stiff footing until the referee intervened at the 2:29 mark of the round.
The stoppage was a little hasty considering Nawaphon was unbeaten and in world title fight. Regardless, Hernandez lifted his record to 34-2-0 (25) and brought his first alphabet title back home to Mexico City, Distrito Federal. Nawaphon, 25, fell to 36-1-0 (28). The jump in opposition was vast for the Bangkok resident and Hernandez’ proven mettle would have likely led him to victory regardless of how long the action was allowed to continue.