Unbeaten Indonesian Chris “The Dragon” John came through a furious test against Thailand’s Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo to extend his nine-year reign as World Boxing Association featherweight champion on Friday.
John, 33, was down in the ninth round and was left reeling by an intense last-round assault by the Thai, but was awarded a unanimous points decision for the 17th successful defense of a title he has held since 2003.
The result at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands kept John undefeated in 50 fights — 48 wins and two draws — while former kickboxer Chonlatarn, 27, was handed his first ever loss in his 45th professional bout.
“My opponent was very tough. I tried hard to punch him to the body and the head, but he kept moving and persevering,” John said.
The champion entered the ring to his own theme song and was quickly into his stride with some strong body-blows in the second round before dropping his guard and show-boating as early as the third.
However, Chonlatarn was landing shots of his own and he rocked the champion in a bruising sixth round, with the rattled John resorting to a blow to the back of the head and a low punch near the kidneys.
It had turned into a battle and as both fighters swung wildly, Chonlatarn connected with a right that dropped John at end of the ninth round — although the Indonesian indicated he slipped.
John came back strongly, but he faced a barrage of punching in the final round as Chonlatarn searched for the knock-out. The judges scored it 117-111, 119-109, 119-109 for the champion.
Earlier Indonesia’s Daud Yordan also won a hard-earned unanimous points decision against British-based Mongolian Choijiljavyn Tseveenpurev to defend his International Boxing Organisation world featherweight title.
Daud, 25, looked troubled by the man 16 years his senior, but showed his class with some powerful shots in the final round to take it 117-111, 119-110, 118-110 and successfully defend the belt he won in Singapore in May.