Thailand’s rich boxing history is undoubtedly traced to their vibrant Muay Thai scene that they nurtured, and the fastest world boxing champion is no exception to that.
Here, we go around the story of Saensak Muangsurin, who might be less known in the west but beloved in Asia.
But before that, a disclaimer: The information about this fighter might be scarce since there’s no mechanism for keeping records in pro-boxing.
Kicking it in Muay Thai
Hailed from the province of Phetchabun (birth name: Boonsong Mansri), Saensak turned to their national sport at the onset of his career. He came into the scene in the 1970s, where Poot Lorlek and Vicharnnoi Porntawee rule the roost.
Known for his lethal left hand and his ultra-aggressive fighting style, he was known as the Devil’s Shadow, among other monikers that came in his career.
In 1971 he won the Lumpinee title in the Junior Welterweight division, and before turning pro, took home a Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (precursor to the current Southeast Asian Games) boxing gold in 1973 by winning every bout by Referee Stopped Contest.
Turning pro: First two fights
His exploits in Muay Thai have caught the eye of Filipino promoter Lope Sarreal, who was more known to handle Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, who was the super featherweight’s longest reigning champion.
With that, Saensak made his pro boxing debut in style at Bangkok’s Hua Mark arena on November 16, 1974, knocking out the Stockton-born Pinoy fighter Rudy Barro in just 58 seconds.
Three months after that, he took on Tetsuo, Lion Furuyama, but the Muay Thai legend was made to sweat before knocking out the Japanese in the seventh of their scheduled ten-rounder.
“The fastest World Boxing Champion”
With a pair of wins already on his belt, Muangsurin’s stock has soared and is now ranked number 4 in the WBC. And thus, he now has his eyes set on Perico Fernandez, with the Spaniard holding the light welterweight belt.
Thus, the fight has been made and on July 15, 1975, the “World Collapsing Southpaw” made history as he scored an eighth-round technical knockout, earning the belt in just his third professional fight.
In 2014, Vasyl Lomachenko tied the record by the number of bouts after a majority decision over Gary Russell Jr for the vacant WBO featherweight crown. However, Saensak did it not just in a shorter duration (eleven days less), but also coming out unbeaten with the Ukrainian fell short to the overweight Orlando Salido in his second bout.
Losing, and reclaiming the title
Saensak made one defense in his first reign, outlasting Furuyama in a decision before losing the belt to Miguel Velasquez in June 1976 in Madrid by a controversial disqualification. Four months later, he reclaimed the title in Segovia, knocking out the Spaniard in the second round.
From there, he made seven successful defenses of the WBC World Light Welterweight title, including a repeat win over former rival Fernandez in 1977. That proved to be the peak of Saensak as a world-caliber boxer, despite his unorthodox ways of fighting.
The end of the road
Alas, the end of his reign came for our world champion boxer on December 30, 1978, in Seoul, South Korea, where he had been knocked out by home bet Kim Sang-Hyun in the 13th round.
From there, it all went downhill as he lost four of his next five bouts to close out his career in the ring. One of those losses came to a rising star named Thomas Hearns, who went on to become boxing’s poster boys of the 1980s.
His professional record stood at 14 wins (11 by knockouts) and six defeats. He retired due to his injuries, especially to his right eye.
Saensak Muangsurin passed away on April 16, 2009, at the age of 58. Still, his rare feat of being the fastest world champion will never be forgotten by the avid fight fans.