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For many non Thai fighters getting the opportuninty to become a big name fighter in Thailand can often be a little more than a dream that doesn't quite come true. The Challenge is huge and very few manage to really capture the imagination of the Thai boxing fans, who are a real tough crowd to overcome.

The standard of the Thai fighters is as good as it gets and an extremely hard bench mark to measuer up to and as a consequence there have been few foreign boxers to really garner the respect of the Thai fight fans. Holland's Ramon Dekker and Rob Kamen were the first real foreign star fighters, with Ramon becomming something of a legend after some fierce battles at Lumpini statium against some of the sports biggest names. France's Danny Bill also went on to make a big name for himself in Thailand and was followed by his countryman Jean Charles Skarbowsky and Australia's John Wayne Parr who also captured the imagination there.

Now there is a new face making big waves in Bangkok's Muay Thai arenas, Australian Soren Mongkongtong. Soren came out to Thailand to give his career a lift and also get a much needed motivational push. After continually competing at the highest level in Australia for a long time, Soren got the chance to make his mark under K-1 MAX rules, but the experience wasn't a particually enjoyable one, with Soren losing on points to Japanese fighter Konami. Frustrated by the K-1 rules and seehis young prodigy looking like he was becoming a little stale at home, it was Sorens trainer and mentor Nugget Mcnaught of NTG in Queensland that came up with the idea for Soren to try his luck on the most demanding fight circuit there is. Soren had been under the guidence of Nugget since he was in his early teens and Nugget could see he was becoming a little stale, being the top dog in the gym with not too much in the way of challenges. So it was off to Bangkok for Soren with a plan to get as much experience under his belt as possible and to try and make his mark and show the Thai fight fans what he was capable of.

Soren had his first fight out of Eminent Air camp shortly after arriving and lost on a points decision at Theprasit stadium in Pattaya. This was not a major setback though, due more to Soren not having settled into the training regime fully yet and also having to adjust slightly to the Thai judging criteria. Next up for Soren was another fight at Theprasit and a chance to show the crowd he mean't business, with a fight against former Lumpini champion Bakjo Sor Pannut. Soren made no mistake this time and stopped Bakjo early with low kicks and this got him a chance to fight live on TV on the Sunday afternoon Fight show on channel 7. Soren's opponent on the show was Robert Por Cherdkait, an experienced fighter who campaigned regularly on both channel 7 and channel 3 and was formerly ranked at all the main stadiums

Soren really made the Thai boxing community sit up and pay attention with his performance in this fight, cutting Robert early in the fight with a masterful display of elbows and matching Robert shot for shot, before the Doctor stopped the fight in the fourth round with Roberts cuts too bad for the fight to continue. This T.K.O win had the Thai boxing press singing Soren's praises the next day, with articles about him appearing in all the top magazines and Soren was called back to channel 7 the following week to be presented with a special bonus prize, as his fight was voted fight of the week, an accolade never before given out to a foreign boxer.

After this performance the owner of Eminent Air camp and Lumpini promoter Mr Somboon Niruttimattee, decided to match Soren on his next promotion at Lumpini and gave Soren the chance to really put his skills to the test against one of the sports legendary warriors, Jomhod Kiatadisak. Jomhod for many years had been the ultimate test for foreign Muay Thai fighters, having won both Lumpini and Ratchadamnern stadium titles and a multitude of other World titles in a long career that saw him travel the world taking on challenges and more often than not seeing those challenges with devestating displays of Muay Thai at it's best. Although now in the twilight stages of his career, Jomhod would still be a big test for any fighter and Soren got down to a strenuous training regime for one of the biggest fights in his career to date.

Soren's daily regime consisted of a long morning run followed by some technical pad work and clinching and a gruelling afternoon session which would see Soren working his clinch game for 40 minutes a session, with 3 of the gyms boxers and trainers all taking turns to work with him, so they stay fresh, but Soren has to work the full 40 minutes. then it os time for pad work again, with the afternoon more focused on high work rate and power. There would be two weight training circuits a week and two hands sparring sessions as well to sharpen every aspect of Sorens game before the big test.

Although many foreign boxers get the chance to fight at the main stadiums in Bangkok, it is more often than not after the main event has finished, when the main collective of fans have already started their journeys home. Sorens's performance on channel 7 had stirred up a big interest though and was being talked about daily on the radio sports channels and he was fighting midway through the card on a big show, just 3 fights before the main event. It was a perfect opportunity to really make a name for himself in front of a big Lumpini stadium crowd.

The action starts at a fairly slow pace with both fighters sizing each other up. Both get through with a few stinging low kicks and Soren lands with a sharp body kick that draws a gasp from the crowd. round two see's Soren come out and catch Jomhod with a couple fast low kicks, but Jomhod comes back with a few solid looking low kicks of his own. soren brings his elbows into the fight now and just misses Jomhod with a fierce one. Soren then looks to open up with some fast punches and looks to land with a hard knee in the clinch, but Jomhod shows what a wily veteran he is and spins soren off balance to the canvas.

Soren starts the third round looking very positive and comes forward and catches Jomhod with explosive long knees and some hard body kicks. The Thai crowd starts to get behind Soren now, cheering every shot as it lands. Jomhod looks to work the legs of Soren again and tries to come back with some fast round kicks and long knees, but Soren takes the fight into the clinch and lands with some solid knees, before backing Jomhod in to a corner and opening up with a burst of punches and elbows. Jomhod comes back with a heavy low kick just before the bell. Jomhod started the fight as slight favourite with the Thai gamblers but by the end of the third round Soren had moved ahead and the only odds being offered were 5-2 odds on for Soren to win.

Jomhod comes out in the fourth round knowing he has to come forward to stay in contention for the fight. Both fighter's trade solid kicks and knees but again Soren gets through with the cleaner shots as he catches Jomhod with more fast long knee strikes and lands with a few solid elbows. Jomhod starts to look tired towards the end of the round and tries to showboat, shaking his head every time Soren lands a solid shot. Soren just keeps a cool head and picks off Jomhod with more quality techniques before the bell. At the end of the round Soren has moved to a 10-1 odds on favourite with the gamblers and by the start of the final round he has moved ahead even further to huge 20-1 odds on favourite. Jomhod starts the final round knowing he needs at least a knockdown to have any chance of rstoring his pride and comes out blasting at the start. Soren again shows great composure though and soaks up the early onslaught. Jomhod soon runs out of gas and Soren then dominates the final minutes of the round, before the judges unanimously vote him the winner.

This victory really cemented Soren's reputation amongst the Thai fight community, as Soren not only beat one of their legendary warriors in the sports most revered venue, he did it in style, beating Jomhod in the Thai way with quality knee's and kicks and displayed a full array of techniques and ringcraft that will have his name talked about for a long while to come, joining that exclusive club of foriegn fighters accepted with respect by the Thai fight fans.








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