And he competes in the welterweight division, which is more than 30 pounds heavier than, say, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the world champion from Thailand who reigns at super flyweight (115 pounds). Kiram says he could even fight at middleweight (160 pounds) if he so desired.
Kiram (38-0, 28 KOs), whose given name is Teerachai Sithmorseng Kratingdaenggym, is ranked No. 1 at 147 pounds by the World Boxing Association, and will take on Argentine slugger and former interim 140-pound champ Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) for the vacant WBA World Welterweight title Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The winner earns a shot at WBA super champion Keith Thurman.
The fight will be televised on HBO Boxing After Dark (10:30 p.m. ET). The co-main event pits Venezuelan star Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) against Filipino Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs) in a 12-round defense of Linares’ WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight titles.
“I’m very thankful that I’m fighting for a world title against Lucas Matthysse,” Kiram said during Thursday’s final press conference. “I’m looking forward to winning a world title and taking the belt back to Thailand.”
This is Kiram’s first fight in the United States, and also his first shot at a world title. As you might imagine, he has trouble finding comparably-sized sparring partners in Thailand. He says he has to look to China, the Philippines and Thai-Americans to find sparring partners. “Whatever style they bring for Matthysse, that’s what they have to bring,” Kiram said.
Kiram describes his style as boxer and puncher, who counts the jab as perhaps his most important punch. He started out like most Thai boxers, in Muay Thai, a martial arts discipline that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. He converted full-time to boxing at 19 and is now 25. While he has not fought anywhere near the caliber of competition Matthysse has, like the Argentine he has knocked out most of his opponents (74%). But it took him nearly nine rounds to take out a fighter making his professional debut early last year.
Still, he’s not too concerned about facing a heavy-handed KO artist like Matthysse, who at 35 is 10 years older than Kiram. “I’m relaxed, and I will do what I have to do,” he said through a translator. “I want to do this for my country and for all the Thai kids who never had the same opportunity as me.”
Matthysse, coming off an impressive fifth-round knockout victory against Emmanuel Taylor last May, following a more than two-year layoff to heal a broken orbital bone from his knockout loss to Viktor Postal in October 2015, has his own ideas for how the fight will play out.
“We prepared for this fight really well. We prepared in Argentina, and then finished in Indio (Calif.),” he said. “We will walk away with a world title. We know that he manages his distance well and that he has a good jab, but we prepared for that. We learned a few things, but I assure the fans that they will once again see ‘The Machine’ this Saturday.”