Erick Rosa in passport limbo in Thailand. (Photo: Shuan Boxing Press)
Today, Erick Rosa should have been challenging Knockout CP Freshmart (aka Thammanoon Niyomtrong) for the WBA strawweight title. However, when he and his team made the 10,000-mile journey from his home in the Dominican Republic to Thailand on February 20, he wasn’t allowed to enter the country.
Rosa, who holds The WBA regular title, had hoped to consolidate the championship by facing Freshmart for the full WBA title. His promoter, Bélgica Peña of Shuan Promotions, was keen to share what happened.
“We had a lot of trouble entering Thailand because the promoters had not correctly completed the necessary documentation to enter the country,” Peña told The Ring.
“Erick was detained for 16 hours at the airport after traveling for two days to reach Thailand. After releasing him, they withheld his passport and we were practically illegal in a foreign country.”
Thankfully, Rosa is now back in the Dominican Republic after an arduous return trip.
Peña remains unsure where this leaves her fighter.
“I understand that my boxer was not in physical or mental condition to fight in a fight as important as this,” she said. “We hope that according to the WBA rules we can now stage the fight since we are the second to participate in the auction.”
This isn’t the first time Peña has felt slighted in trying to secure a fight with Freshmart for her fighter.
At the WBA annual convention last year, there was a purse bid for Freshmart-Rosa in which both sides took part. The winner was Freshmart’s promoter, Petchyindee Boxing Promotions, with an offer of $140,000, outbidding Rosa’s backer, Shuan Boxing ($122,000).
“I feel that the auction was not fair,” said Peña. “For some reason I never received the letter that we had an auction that day.
“I went to the convention just to support the organization that we have worked with for many years, and it was right there that I found out that there was an auction. After losing [the purse bid], I made a very good offer for the Thais, but they insisted on carrying out the fight.”
Freshmart (24-0, 9 knockout), The Ring’s No. 1-rated strawweight, was a successful Muay Thai fighter and won a Thai national title as an amateur boxer before turning professional in 2012.
He annexed the WBA title from Byron Rojas (UD 12) in June 2016. Since then, the 32-year-old has turned back 11 challengers, including Rey Loreto (UD 12), Chaozhong Xiong (UD 12), Rojas (UD 12), Robert Paradero (TKO 5) and, in his most recent fight, former long-reigning WBC titleholder Wanheng Menayothin (UD 12).
Rosa (5-0, 1 KO) had a successful amateur career before turning professional in October 2020. The ambitious 22-year-old Dominican Republic-born southpaw impressively dominated 105-pound stalwart Byron Castellon (UD 10) in his second outing. He followed that by stopping prospect Kenny Cano (KO 3).
Those wins positioned him to face unbeaten Peruvian Ricardo Astuvilca. Although Rosa was down in the fourth round, his slick skills saw him win a 12-round unanimous decision. “Mini-Pacman” continued to be moved aggressively, edging former WBO 105-pound ruler Vic Saludar (SD 12) in December 2021.
The situation is ongoing, and Rosa and his team are waiting to hear clarification from the WBA on what happens next.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].