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Somjit leads two other Thais into quarters

[BOXING] Thailand's boxing team had mixed fortunes in the quarter-finals of the World Boxing Championship in Chicago.

Published on November 3, 2007

Three of their boxers cruised into the next round while two others were sent crashing.

Veteran Somjit Jongjorhor, along with  Amnaj Reanroeng and Nont Boonjumnong, kept the Thai flag flying while Sairom Ardee and Pichai Sayotha suffered defeats in the featherweight and lightweight divisions respectively. The consolation was that all five, having reached the final eight, booked their places in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Evergreen Somjit got the Thai campaign off to a winning start. The flyweight veteran, who won the championship four years ago, drew on his vast experience to comfortably tame Rafael Kaczor of Poland 15-3. He is due to face Italy's Vicenso Picardi in the last four.

"I am relieved because people had a lot of expectations on me. A load is off my shoulders and I'm not concerned about the semi-final fight against the Italian.

"He is no ordinary boxer. He can swap his boxing stance just like shifting gears. He has the same style as I. But I think my punching speed is better so I can move past him," said Somjit.

Featherweight Sairom was unable to maintain the momentum, frustratingly going down to Turkish boxer Kilic Yakup 22-13.

In the first three rounds, Sairom was on the front foot. However, the Turk was always a step ahead in punching, which culminated in a healthy 19-9 advantage.

Sairom tried for a breakthrough in the final session and it looked like he could get it when he floored his opponent twice. However, the Thai agonisingly failed to land a shot that could have turned the fight on its head.

"The judges' scoring looked suspicious, as I thought the fight was close, but the gap was too wide. I'm satisfied with my overall performance though," said Sairom.

Light flyweight Amnaj made up for the Thai camp's disappointment by turning in another impressive performance which made it hard to believe that he learnt the sport barely two years ago while serving a prison sentence. He barely had to break into a sweat against Armenia's Hovhannes Danielyan before sealing an easy 18-8 win.

Amnaj, in his debut year for the national team, will face a stern examination of his fast-growing credentials in the next round, when he lines up against seasoned fighter Harry Tanamor of the Philippines.

"I have nothing to lose against Tanamor. He is the Doha Asian Games champion but he holds no fear for me despite his impressive resume," said Amnaj.

Any optimism the Thai team gained from Amnaj's triumph quickly evaporated when lightweight Pichai lost to Athens Olympic gold medallist Alexey Tishenko of Russia.

Welterweight Nont, however, managed to limit the damage to the Thai team by clinching a 25-17 win over Canadian Adam Trupish to set up a semi-final date with China's Silamu Hanati.

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