By Patrick Johnston
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Chris John made a 17th defense of his WBA super world featherweight title when he outpointed Thailand's Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in a slugfest at Marina Bay Sands on Friday.
John was awarded the bout 117-111, 119-109, 119-109 by the three ringside judges in an entertaining bout, which should perhaps have been scored closer and featured all-out attack by two undefeated boxers intent on fighting on the inside.
"My opponent is very tough, I tried hard to punch him hard in the body and head but he kept moving", John, with a cut below his left eye, said from the ring after winning the bout.
After a stuttering start, both boxers let loose over the next five rounds with the referee forced to break up the exhausted duo for holding for the first time in the seventh round.
Chonlatarn fought through the final rounds with a bloody nose and looked unsteady on his feet, probably because of exhaustion, in his first bout outside Thailand.
John, voted the WBA's fighter of the decade earlier this year, was the busier of the two throughout and although he took his fair share of punishment, the Indonesian landed more punishing blows in the contest full of uppercuts and overhand hooks.
Chonlatarn, 27, unleashed a flurry of blows to rock John in the final round as the Thai looked for the knockout he required to cause the upset, but his Indonesian rival ducked, dived and hung on just enough to survive, to the delight of his many compatriots in the crowd.
The 33-year-old John, taking part in his second of five bouts in Singapore before he retires, improved to 48-0-2 (22 knockouts) while Chonlatarn slipped to 44-1 (27 KOs).
In an earlier bout, Indonesia's Daud Yordan made a first successful defense of his IBO featherweight title by outpointing Manchester-based 'Mongolian Warrior' Choi Tseveenpurev.
Yordan improved to 30-2 (23 knockouts) with a unanimous points win, 117-111, 119-110, 118-110, over his 41-year-old opponent in another entertaining clash of attacking boxing.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)