At least twice, Srisaket has been judged Thailand’s best athlete of the year ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn, the first Thai golfer to claim the top ranking in the sport.
Following his win against Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden, he was named the athlete of the year (from March to March) by the Sport Writers Association of Thailand although Ariya won five titles on the LPGA Tour in 2016.
“Ariya could win more titles but Srisaket’s win was a once-in-a-life-time success,” observed a member of the selection panel.
The Si Sa Ket-born boxer, whose real name is Wisaksil Wangek, was picked as the best professional athlete of the year by the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) earlier this month with Ariya claiming second place.
Considered the best pound-for-pound boxer of this generation, WBC super-flyweight champion Gonzalez was the heavy favourite going into his fight against Srisaket at New York’s Madison Square Garden in March.
Many critics and fans believed Gonzalez’s handlers picked the Thai as the Nicaraguan’s challenger only to extend his flawless record to 47 wins.
But the Thai, known locally as Srisaket Nakornloung Promotion, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.
He dethroned Gonzalez with a majority decision following a bloody 12-round slug-fest.
Two judges scored it 114-112 for Srisaket, while the other judged it 113-113.
Srisaket’s victory was the lead story on the front page of all newspapers in Thailand.
Not surprisingly, Gonzalez believed he had won the fight and called for a rematch.
“I’m a little dinged up. I thought I won the fight. I want an immediate rematch,” Gonzalez said.
He did get a rematch at StubHub Center in Carson, California in September.
This time, Srisaket proved the previous win was no fluke, registering a fourth-round knockout victory over Gonzalez.
“I fought for Thailand, for the pride of Thailand,” said the 30-year-old champion (44-4-1, 40KOs).
“I have shown that I am the best 115-pound boxer in the world. I am ready to fight anyone. I am not scared of anyone.”
Promoter Tom Loeffler said: “He [Srisaket] beat the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in New York, and then he beat him more convincingly the second time.
“Now he has to be considered one of the best in the world. You saw Roman really packed the house, and Srisaket came into a hostile environment and proved he is a true champion. He has tremendous punching power.”
Srisaket will next defend his title against formidable Francisco Estrada, the top-ranked challenger, in February.
The Thai boxer has been lucky both in the ring and in love.
After returning from his second win against Gonzelez, he proposed to his long-time girlfriend at Suvarnabhumi airport.
They initially planned to tie the knot this year but have postponed their marriage to next year after Srisaket’s fight with Estrada.
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