Who is the best? That’s the titular question being asked this weekend at Thein Pyu Stadium as Myanmar’s lethwei golden belt champion faces up against yet another international challenger on October 11.
This time, the man entering the ring with Tun Tun Min will be Daniel Kerr of New Zealand. A seasoned veteran of more than 110 muay thai and mixed martial arts battles, this is the Bangkok-based Kerr’s first venture into Myanmar’s form of traditional boxing.
Kerr has fought across a wide variety of venues from his native land to North Korea, and while he has held belts in his time, including the World Kickboxing and Karate Association (South Pacific) title at 75 kilograms, he is modest about his achievements.
“I’ve only ever held three belts, and one of them was an MMA belt I lost in my first title defence. If you see me wearing lots of belts in a photo it was most likely for a promoter to make it seem more special,” Kerr told New Zealand Fighter.
Also a double gold medallist at the 2002 taekwondo junior world championships, Kerr will need to show that adaptability as he enters the bare-knuckled, head-butting world of lethwei.
And Kerr can have no tougher introduction to the Golden Land than to face off against the current open-weight challenge match champion Tun Tun Min, fighting out of the Mudon Thar Club, near Hpa-An.
Domestically Myanmar’s fight promoters find difficulty in matching the country’s top fighter with those who would pose him a challenge. Most believe that Too Too, the Southeast Asian Games muay thai gold medallist would be his toughest opponent, but the two close friends remain reluctant to meet in the ring.
So for now Kerr becomes the next in a series of Bangkok-based international fighters hoping to knock the king of golden land boxing off his throne.
In a double-bill of international fights Soe Lin Oo – a first-class fighter considered the equal of Too Too and winner of four major tournaments – will take on Thai fighter Ni Wisoram.
Fighting out of Yangon’s Doe Yoe Yar Club, Soe Lin Oo comes to the contest on the back of a drawn match that he dominated against rising star Thway Thit Aung.
His Thai opponent – with a record of 85 matches, 68 wins, 15 losses and two draws, and a range of Thai championship belts – takes his second step into lethwei after knocking out Saw Hla Kyi Htoo of Taung Ka Lay Club in the third round in an impressive performance last December.
Sai Zaw Zaw, promoter from the H&S group, told The Myanmar Times that he expected the remainder of the bill to provide plenty of entertainment.
“The local bouts will be keenly fought, as we’ve included a number of rematches and grudge fights on this bill,” said Sai Zaw Zaw.
Among the eight contests between Myanmar fighters, Tate Tite of Htun Twin Club’s opportunity to exact revenge on Taung Ka Lay Club’s Ye Tway Ni promises the most excitement.
Ye Tway Ni, champion at 51kg in the 2015 Golden Belt Championship, picked up that honour by flooring Tate Tite in the final of the event.
Sai Zaw Zaw promised that Yangon can expect to see more international fighters entering the ring in future.
“We’ve just signed an understanding with a muay thai fight promoter that will see the cream of lethwei talent visit muay contests abroad, and more muay fighters will come to Myanmar and compete in lethwei.”
Source: Myanmar Times