Nakhon Ratchasima - Thai boxer Wanheng Menayothin clinched his 50th straight
victory on Wednesday, stopping a Panamanian challenger to hold onto his WBC
minimumweight belt and tie the undefeated record of boxing great Floyd
The 32-year-old Thai nicknamed the "dwarf giant"
reached the milestone in the fifth round as Leroy Estrada failed to recover
from a powerful upper cut.
The Panamanian was the busier of the two fighters in the
opening rounds, leaving a cut above Wanheng's left eye.
But the veteran Thai was unruffled, knocking down Estrada
twice in round three with withering right hands and again in the fourth, before
the stoppage in the fifth.
Wanheng's quest to equal "Money" Mayweather has
stirred intrigue between the unheralded, soft-spoken Thai and the brash, vastly
more wealthy American.
"I'm happy that I can make the same record as him
(Mayweather)," the champion said ringside after the fight.
Asked about his next move, he said he was not yet thinking
about a 51st bout.
But one more win would bring Wanheng level with Mexican
flyweight Ricardo Lopez, who retired with 51 wins, one draw and no losses.
The bout was hosted in a parking lot, under an awning in the
blistering late afternoon heat of the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima,
far from the glitz - and air conditioning - of Mayweather's favoured Las
Boxing analysts have taken note of his achievement but point
out that Wanheng has dominated undistinguished rivals compared with Mayweather,
who took out greats including Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya.
Wanheng's rivals have been a mixed bag -- one last year had
44 losses, while another in 2014 had 24.
In December, he tied Rocky Marciano's 49-0 tally with a win
over Japanese contender Tatsuya Fukuhara.
Still, World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman, who
attended Wednesday's bout, applauded the "tremendous fight" and
"The world is going to get to know him much better, and
great opportunities will open for him," he said.
That may bring a boon to Wanheng, who has fought since he
was 12 and despite his prowess is significantly less wealthy than Mayweather,
who briefly emerged from retirement last year to fight MMA star Conor McGregor
for a $100-million purse.
Given the lack of finances, fighters in Thailand often
compete under the label of their gym - Menayothin is Wanheng's Bangkok gym.
The Thai boxer's legal name is Chayaphon Moonsri.
But he is better known by the nickname "dwarf
giant" - on account of punching power that belies his size - and
"Five-Star Grilled Chicken" because of a sponsorship deal with a Thai