The Greatest Fight That Never Was May Still Happen
Two decorated Muay Thai champions whose paths were almost certain to cross, but never did.
The French-Italian, Fabio Pinca, and the veritable titan of the sport, Buakaw Banchamek, were originally set to fight one another for the vacant WMC World Junior Middleweight on March 17, 2012.
The fight, however, never materialized.
Buakaw was going through an internal dispute with Por Pramuk Gym, his former trainers and managers. Finally, Pinca withdrew, claiming persisting injuries from his fight with Thongchai Sitsongpeenong. His replacement, Djime Coulibaly, was dispatched by Buakaw as he earned the UD and the championship belt.
This past week, five years after the Frenchman and the Thai were scheduled to meet, Fabio Pinca posted a picture of himself and Buakaw on his Instagram account. He asked his followers if they would like to see him fight Buakaw. Not surprisingly, the response was an overwhelming yes.
Now that both fighters are free of overbearing managers and virtually run their own careers, this fight could happen before the end of this year. But will it? And if it does happen, who will win, Fabio or Buakaw?
229-23-12 | 68 TKO/KO
Buakaw “The White Lotus” Banchamek
Buakaw is a Muay Thai legend, arguably the most popular and successful fighter ever coming out of Thailand.
Over 264 fights, his winning rate is a staggering 87%.
A two-time Omnoi Stadium champion, Lumpini Stadium Toyota Marathon champion, Thailand Featherweight champion, and two time K-1 World MAX champion.
Today he is a 35 years of age and approaching the end of his incredible career. A lot of fans wonder how he would do against an aggressive technician like Fabio Pinca.
Buakaw’s strength is his flawless technique. He fights with grace.
His main weapons are his speed and his kicks, especially the left switch kick, which seems impossible to stop. Buakaw knows how to control the tempo of a fight and has some of the sharpest killer instincts in the game. He will fully take advantage of any and all weaknesses his opponents dare to show.
The only drawback to Buakaw’s style is his boxing defense and now, his age.
At times, Buakaw seemed content on taking unnecessary blows, especially punches coming from better boxers. Many Thai fighters don’t mind taking a shot in order to deliver punishment, and Buakaw is no different.
Another factor that may affect him is his age. He is now 35, with a budding movie career and ownership of a world-renowned gym. His focus and hunger may have diminished. Only time will tell if the speed and killer instincts are intact.
98-22-4 | 33 TKO/KO
Fabio Pinca is a 33 year-old world-class Muay Thai fighter hailing out of Lyon, France.
His accomplishments in the fight world are outstanding.
Boasting a 79% winning rate, Pinca is generally considered the best non-Thai Muay Thai fighter in the world.
This past June, adding to his laundry list of titles and belts, Fabio won the prestigious Rajadamnern Stadium Champion belt at 67 kg.
He holds wins over many notable opponents — none more so perhaps than the great Saenchai, who Pinca beat by UD in 2012.
Like Buakaw, Fabio also is also blessed with superior technique.
He is comfortable fighting in either traditional or southpaw stance. His hand skills are excellent but his main strength is his striking output and aggression.
Pinca is a ferocious savage that refuses to take his foot off the gas. The Frenchman does not know the meaning of backing up. He moves forward at 100 miles per hour, which makes for very entertaining fights.
Fabio Pinca’s weakness is also his strength.
His aggression can also be used against him. He always moves forward, which is ideal for a technical counter-fighter like Buakaw.
Another flaw in his game that may be used against Pinca is his emotion, as he tends to fight frustrated. At times, he has been seen fighting dirty (kicks on the ground, “accidental” headbutts, and so on.) This can lead to point deductions and can also enrage Buakaw, which is not a good idea.
And The Winner Is…?
Both fighters have remarkable records and both are nearing the end of their careers. Choosing a victor is no easy task.
As a betting man, I would put my money on Buakaw because of his experience, winning percentage, and versatility. Buakaw’s ring generalship is unmatched. He can fight forward and backward. He can counter or be the aggressor.
By contrast, Fabio has only shown one speed: 100 miles an hour moving forward.
If this fight happens, Buakaw will be waiting in the cut and will use Pinca’s skills against him, picking him apart like a snarling and vulnerable animal.
- Pierre started his journey in martial arts after witnessing Bruce Lee on the silver screen. He began training Tae Kwon Do, earning a brown belt by his 18th birthday. He took up Muay Thai in 2000, training under Kru Nestor Marte in New York City. Pierre eventually moved to South Florida and trained at American Top Team under Christian Toleque and the late Howard Davis Jr. Pierre finally made the leap to Bangkok in 2007, having about a dozen fights. Today, Pierre Smith teaches Muay Thai and strength and conditioning out of his home gym. He also has a podcast called Catching Wreck which is available on Soundcloud, iTunes and Google Play. Pierre can be reached at www.catchingwreck.com.