Petchmongkol is the latest Thai to stand on the losing side of a controversial decision during today's K-1 World GP 2023 event. After three close rounds against Japanese fighter Koji Ikeda the judges scored the bout a unanimous draw, meaning an extra round will be fought to decide the winner. After three more minutes, all judges saw the bout in favor of Ikeda, which caused an outcry on social media, as many fans and spectators thought the Thai had the edge.
Not the first time this has happened, as many other prominent Thai's have faced a similar dilemma when competing in the land of the rising sun. Kaew, Phayahong, View or all the the way back in K-1 MAX, Buakaw, have been part of controversial decisions that saw them losing to their Japanese counter parts.
Klahan Prapun, Weerasakreck gym owner, and the bridge between K-1 and every Thai athlete looking to compete in Japan took his frustration to social media, “I don't agree with today's judgment. I want fair judges to always follow the rules. But do you want that?"
Deer Kiatpetch, Petchmongkol's promoter in Thailand also weathered against the decision.
"Petchmongkol lost. After three rounds it went to an extra round. We were the only side that was engaging in combat but they gave us a decision loss. I really can't accept the cheating judges this time. It's time for me to rethink sending Thai fighters to K-1. This is happening frequently. Who would keep sending their fighters to fight to your promotion? Who would accept you K-1? Anyone who watched the tape would most likely agree with me."
The fighter didn't hold back when speaking to the Japanese media during his post-fight interview and made it clear, that he felt unfairly treated.
What are your thoughts on today’s fight?
I felt sad... I felt a bit sad. I felt I had won, but the judges did not let me win. It was like I was robbed.
What do you think about your opponent?
I did my best. What could I do? The judges gave me the loss. I did my best.
What do you think about K-1 rules?
It was my first K-1 fight. I still have not fully adjusted to the rules, but I did my best. When I was robbed like this, I didn’t feel good. It was my first time here and I was robbed like this. I would rather fight in Thailand than come back to Japan only to be cheated out of a decision and lose. I don't want to come to Japan anymore.
What do you have to say to the fans?
I would like to thank my promoter. Kiatpetch trainers and my fan-club. And to the Japanese fans who cheered me on.
The majority of Japanese fans also voiced their disagreement on social media, "It's about time the Thai people start to hate K-1 for real" and “It's also happened to Phayahong, no one will watch fights of a promotion that has no respect for foreign fighters like this."
Other international competitors that competed today also felt like the odds were stacked against them. Ramadan Ondash wrote on social media, "For me, my team and everybody in the stadium it was a draw." Grand Prix participant Li Hui also complained about having to go to an extra-round against Katsuya Jinbo, and said it affected his performance against Hasan Toy in the following round.
Whether K-1 will address the growing number of complaints is unknown.