Q&A: Suriyan Sor Rungvisai
Suriyan Sor Rungvisai enters the lion’s den when he challenges long-reigning bantamweight titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka for the WBC belt on Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan.
Yamanaka, an unbeaten 32-year-old veteran, has defended his crown six times, five by knockout. However, the Thai challenger isn’t concerned.
“Yamanaka’s power is very well known, and it is why he receives much respect from the fans in Japan, Thailand, and all over the world,” Suriyan told RingTV.com through his promoter Thainchai Pisitwuttinan of Nakornloung Promotions. “However, I have fought top boxers many times throughout my career and I am very well prepared for this fight, so his power does not concern me. It will be a great fight.”
Previously Suriyan (37-5-1, 16 knockouts) held the WBC junior bantamweight title, reigning from 2011-2012; he has won 17 consecutive fights since losing his 115-pound title.
He’s well versed in fighting quality opposition.
“I also see myself as a boxer of the same calibre as him,” said the 25-year old. “I have fought wars against many great champions in the past, such as Pongsaklek Wongjongkam, Tomas Rojas, Tepparith Kokietgym, Nobou Nashiro, and Yota Sato, so I have nothing to be nervous about.”
The Teiken Promotions event also features former two-weight beltholder Takahiro Ao against two-time 130-pound titleholder Juan Carlos Salgado, who’s looking to end a two fight losing streak in their lightweight bout.
Here’s what Suriyan had to say when RingTV.com caught up with him:
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on fighting Yamanaka?
Suriyan Sor Rungvisai – First of all, I would like to thank WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, the WBC, Mr. Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions, and Mr. Thainchai Pisitwuttinan of Nakornloung Promotion for this great opportunity for me to challenge for the prestigious WBC world title.
It is definitely a life-changing opportunity for me. Even though I have been a world champion, it will be a whole new story if I win the world title in two different weight classes. There are only few Thais in history who have done that, and it will be history. Hence, Yamanaka can be sure that I will be putting more than 110-percent into training and inside the ring to take the world title from him. Yamanaka is a great champion, and I am sure that he will be well prepared for this fight. I am looking forward to giving the best fight in both terms of quality and excitement to the fans.
AW – When you look at Yamanaka, what do you see as strengths and weaknesses?
SSR – Yamanaka is a complete boxer and a great champion. His undefeated record with high knockout ratio speaks for itself. I think he is a well-round boxer, and he has no major weakness.
AW – This fight gives you the opportunity to become a two-weight world champion. What are your thoughts on fighting for the title at bantamweight?
SSR – This is definitely a great opportunity for me, and I deeply appreciate the support from all the supporters who made this fight happen.
First of all, it is always a great honour and prestige to fight for the WBC world title. It is always a life-changing opportunity for any boxer, including me, to win the WBC world title. I know that I will be able to give even a better life to my family by winning this title.
Second, there are only few Thais in the history who won world titles in two different weight divisions, so I am very determined to make history for Thailand by winning this bantamweight title.
Also, this bantamweight title has long belonged to Nakornloung Promotion, my promotion. For almost a decade, Veerapol Nakornloung held this WBC bantamweight title while defending it 14 times. During his era, Veerapol won the title from the (Japanese) legend, Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who is from Teiken Promotions – the same promotion as Yamanaka. I grew up watching Veerapol and the Nakornloung Promotions team winning and defending the WBC bantamweight title, so I am extremely determined to bring the WBC bantamweight title back to Nakornloung Promotions and Thailand.
AW – What are your thoughts on having to travel to Japan?
SSR – I am happy to fight in Japan. I already have an experience fighting there, so it will not be a new thing for me. The time difference between Thailand and Japan is small and the weather at this point in time is not too different, so there will be no impact on me.
AW – Thai fighters are generally very strong fighting at home but are notoriously poor travellers. What would you say about that?
SSR – I think this can be applied to all boxers in the world, not just for Thai boxers. Fighting aboard can sometimes be difficult, especially for those who never fight aboard since they have to face new and unexpected things. It is ideal for boxers to be in the most ready state physically and mentally before and during important fights, and travelling sometimes effects the physical and mental state of boxers. However, this applies to all boxers, and not only to Thai boxers in my opinion.
There are many Thai boxers who won fights and perform well aboard. For example, Veerapol Nakornloung, my senior at Nakornlouang Promotions, defended his world title more than half of the time abroad. There are also at least two Thai boxers who won regional championship matches in Japan in the past few months. So I think it is more about individual boxers and specific circumstances than nationality of boxers.
AW – You previously held the WBC 115-pound title before losing it to Yota Sato, tell us about that fight?
SSR – I think it was a great and exciting fight between me and Yota Sato. It was unfortunate for me that I got caught with good punches early in the fight, but the rest of the fight was extremely close and entertaining. It is an experience that helped me become a lot stronger, and this experience will definitely help me during my fight with Yamanaka.
AW – Since losing the title you’ve been very busy, fighting and winning all 17 of your bouts, admittedly against mediocre opposition. Tell us about those fights and how you feel now having stepped up to 118?
SSR – I am extremely happy with the fights that I had both in terms of quality and quantity, and I have to thank WBC Asia, Nakornloung Promotions, and Mr. Thainchai Pisitwuttinan for all the support.
The frequency of fighting 17 times in two years is way above the average for any boxer. It is great for me to stay this active because it gives me the opportunity to constantly improve my skills and capability as a boxer. All the fights were also broadcasted on television nationwide in Thailand, so they gave me great exposure to the fans.
I am also happy with the quality of my opponents. I had many WBC Asia title fights against qualified challengers, and they are all good and challenging opponents. Many of my opponents were national champions, and some of them even won international championship matches after they fought with me. For example, Elmar Francisco and Fernando Ocon were national champions before they fought me; Daryl Basadre was undefeated before his fight with me, his only loss until now was the one against me, and he even won an international championship title only six months after my fight. It is sometimes difficult to match you with comparable opponents when you are a former world champion and a top contender; however, many of my opponents are good boxers and they were also very dangerous. I had to be focus on each of my fight, and I also improved after each fight. I am now very happy to get the opportunity to fight against the great champion, Yamanaka.
With high level of frequency and quality of my fights, I was able to earn the No. 1 contender spot in WBC bantamweight ranking giving me the opportunity to challenge for the world title against Yamanaka as a mandatory challenger. I feel great at bantamweight division – stronger and faster than before.
AW – You fought in Muay Thai before you took up boxing. Tell us about that?
SSR – I fought Muay Thai since I was around seven years old. Back then I got only a few dollars per fight, which is not enough for the expenses of my family but I kept on fighting because I dreamt to be a world champion one day.
AW – How did you become involved in boxing?
SSR – I movedto Bangkok when I was a teenager and I continued my Muay Thai career for a few years, fighting in major Muay Thai stadiums. With my passion in boxing, I turned to be a professional boxing instead. I boxed both in Thailand and aboard early in my career before Nakornloung Promotions signed me in. Then I won the WBC Asia title and later WBC junior bantamweight world title. My life and my family life have improved tremendously now compared to earlier in my career. I am proud of my achievements, and I am aiming to improve even more.
AW – The training is very tough in Thailand. Tell us about a typical day for you?
SSR – We have tough training programs here in Thailand. For our gym, we train two times per day. In the morning, we run for 20 kilometres (around 12.5 miles), followed by seven rounds of pad work. In the afternoon, we do sparring and pad work for eight-to-12 rounds, then we do the basic exercises.
AW – Tell us about your life away from boxing?
SSR – At Nakornloung Promotions gym, we live like family. We are very close to each other, like brothers. I live and train at Nakornloung Promotions gym. Most of my family members live in Nakhon Ratchasima, and I visit them between fights.
AW – Do you have anything you’d like to say to Yamanaka?
SSR – Yamanaka is a great champion with fantastic career and achievements. I have great respect toward him. However, I will be extremely well prepared for this fight, and I am determined and confident that I will be able to take the world title away from him. I hope and I am sure that he will be well prepared for the fight as well. I am looking forward to meeting him in the ring and to give the best fight to the fans.