By Ted Sares
24-year-old Filipino Angelito "Lito" Sisnorio was coming off a fourth-round TKO to reigning WBC flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 63-2 coming in. Wonjongkam had won close to 60 in a row coming in! It was the Filipino’s third defeat in a row.
He then fought former WBC flyweight champion Chatchai Sasaku, 58-3, at the Wat Sing School in Thailand on March 30. Sasakul had won his last six fights, four by stoppage, while the Filipino won only five of his 11 fights. Sasakul is the fighter who battered, yes battered, Manny Pacquiao for six rounds before Manny caught him with a devastating combination to win the title by a sensational eighth-round knockout in 1998.
The vastly-experienced Sasakul predictably ended the fight via a fourth-round knockout. He had landed a series of vicious right hooks, forcing "Lito," who had absorbed tremendous punishment, to go down for the count at 2:35. Later, he fell unconscious while eating dinner and was rushed to Bangkok’s Piyamin Hospital where he underwent emergency brain surgery to remove a blood clot. Sadly, he failed to regain consciousness.
His death prompted the Philippine Games and Amusement Board to ban all fights involving Filipino boxers in Thailand starting April 2007. According to BoxRec and other sources, this fight had no approval from the Philippine boxing commission, Games and Amusement Board (GAB), and was considered to be illegal.
So much for the grim details...but let's take a closer look. Why was a 10-6 fighter (or was it 5-4) allowed to fight a 58-3 former champ? And this after having been knocked out by the great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam just two months earlier.
I recently complained about the mismatch between Amir Kahn and Stefy Bull, but this was on a much deadlier level. This was culpable and egregious. This was not boxing; this was blood sport. This terrible mismatch was not on global Television, nor was it widely publicized...maybe that's why it was allowed to happen. My God, here's a kid who finished his career with a total of 11 fights or 17 fights depending how you interpret BoxRec figures, but he's thrown in with tigers like Wonjongkam and Sasakul . That's flat out criminal.
Was an unscrupulous matchmaker in Thailand involved? Did he work with an equally unscrupulous type in the Philippines who allows fighter to go to Thailand without necessary clearance to fight? Did Sisnorio slip out of the country without permission? Has Sisnorio’s manager, Jemmel Contayoso, been questioned? Why did this fight lack approval from the Philippine boxing commission, Games and Amusement Board (GAB)? Why was Sisnorio not licensed at the time of the fight? Why was he still allowed to fight? Why, why why?
This one didn’t come out of the ordinary circumstance surrounding boxing where the referees and ring side physicians are competent and the fighter are evenly matched, but still, a fatality tragically occurs. Oh no, this one involved a flashpoint of culpability that occurred in plain sight. We all know why this one occurred and that’s what makes it so reprehensible and unacceptable.
Hopefully, the right questions were (and are) being framed by Thai officials after Lito had been taken to the hospital. But it’s too late for the 24 year old. His brain quickly filled with destroyed blood vessels. He quickly shut down. And that’s where it all ended for him. In a place where no bell tolls with the final ten count for fallen warriors. It ended in a place where there was no more hope, no more triumphs.