Asian Boxing Scene: Menayothin retains, Nietes vacates
Marcus Bellinger rounds up the latest news from the vibrant Asian boxing scene including a ground-breaking move involving the Japan Boxing Commission.
In a timely boost for boxing in the Philippines Marlon Tapales snatched the WBO bantamweight title on the road knocking out Thai champion Pungluang Sor Singyu on 27 July.
The first four rounds were nip and tuck. The champion applied pressure and attacked the body, with the challenger landing some sharp counters. The contest took a dramatic twist in round 5 as Pungluang scored two knockdowns with the Filipino lucky to survive the round. In a show of phenomenal defiance Tapales roared back in round 6 dropping Pungluang, and turned the tide of the fight firmly in his favour. Tapales only grew in confidence over the next four stanzas with Pungluang’s pressure tactics rapidly decreasing. The end came at the start of round 11 with Pungluang failing to beat the count and a new bantamweight champion was crowned.
The Thai suffered major mouth damage and will be out of action for the foreseeable future. As for Tapales numerous options are available to him, and the 24-year-old is being headhunted by promoters including the Philippines own ALA.
A day later at the Korakuen Hall Masayuki Ito retained his OPBF super featherweight title, easily overcoming the game but ultimately outclassed Ernie Sanchez. Ito was assured and composed throughout and after eight rounds he was well ahead on the open scoring. The champion enjoyed a big round 9, and after another big attack two rounds later the referee stepped in to bring the contest to a halt. Ito v Sanchez can be viewed here.
Mark Anthony Barriga finally got his professional career underway on 30 July with a six-round unanimous decision win over Melvin Manangquil at the Robinson’s Galleria in Sebu City with scores of 59-55 (twice) and 60-54.
Teenage sensation Hinata Maruta captured his first title stopping Filipino Wilbert Berondo on 31 July at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center. The touted Japanese fighter was simply too quick, too big and left Berondo bewildered and bemused. Maruta brought an end to proceedings in round 6 with a thudding body shot, and claimed the WBC Youth bantamweight belt in the process.
Wanheng Menayothin retained his WBC 105lbs strap on 2 August with a unanimous points' victory over mandatory challenger Saul Juarez. After a quiet opening three rounds the action picked up in round 4 with the pair trading shots. The champion began to take the ascendancy with the straight right hand proving to be a profitable punch, and at the end of round 8 the open scores read 78-74, 78-75 and 77-75 all in favour of Wanheng.
The Thai did enough to win the next two rounds and coasted to the final bell with the final score totals reading 116-113, 115-113 and 116-112.
With the champion well aware of being ahead the anticipation was rather sucked out of the contest, and an example of how open scoring can really prove to be detrimental and have a negative impact on a fight.
Chinese heavyweight Zhang Junlong maintained his 100 per cent KO record stopping Julio Cesar dos Santos in two rounds on 7 August.
The rise of light flyweight phenom Ken Shiro continues with the 24-year-old retaining his Japanese crown, and adding the vacant OPBF 108lbs trinket to his collection with a unanimous 12 round decision over Toshimasa Ouchi on 7 August. From the opening bell both men tried to assert themselves and the bout was fought at a frantic pace. Shiro was ahead after four rounds, and despite Ouchi’s best efforts to up the tempo it was clear that the Japanese champion possessed the heavier artillery. In round 8 Ouchi was floored by a sumptuous counter and did well to get up and survive the round. Shiro spent the next four rounds hunting a stoppage victory, but Ouchi valiantly resisted to hear the final bell. There was no doubt about the winner with Shiro winning by scores of 119-108, 119-109 and 117-111. A piece of history was also made with Shiro and his dad becoming the first father/son combo to have won the OPBF crown.
Unfortunately a scheduled contest between Kazuki Tanaka and Hideo Sakamoto that was due to also take place on 7 August was cancelled with Tanaka withdrawing due to injury.
For those who weren’t lucky enough to catch the live broadcast of Daigo Higa’s destructive demolition of Ardin Diale then you can take a look here.
Exciting Indonesian Iwan Zoda returns on 27 August in a 10 round flyweight contest against Kaichon Sor Vorapin at the Borneo City Mall In Ketapang
We finally have a date and venue for the final piece of the super flyweight world title jigsaw, with McJoe Arroyo making his overdue mandatory defence of his IBF belt against Jerwin Ancajas at the Strike Coliseum in Bacoor, Philippines on 3 September.
A couple of updates to Ohashi’s big show on 4 September with opponents confirmed for both Satoshi Shimizu and Koki Inoue. Shimizu will debut in a six round contest versus Korean In Kyoo Lee, and Inoue faces Indonesian Heri Andriyanto over eight rounds.
Confirmation finally came through that Keita Obara will challenge Eduard Troyanovsky for his IBF light welterweight belt in Moscow on 9 September.
Donnie Nietes has officially vacated his WBO light flyweight title and will face former world champion Edgar Sosa on 24 September at the Stubhub Center in his 112lbs debut.
Kosei Tanaka, who was in line to challenge for the vacant WBO 108lbs strap has picked up an injury to his right hand which has scuppered his scheduled September return.
8 October sees a battle of unbeaten fighters as fan pleasing 115lbs fighter Rex Tso faces Ryuto Maekawa at the Convention Towers and Exhibition Center in Hong Kong.
A bout between Milan Melindo and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr has been ordered for the interim IBF light flyweight belt due to an injury to full champion Akira Yaegashi.
Finally, in a ground breaking and significant move, the Japan Boxing Commission has elected to recognise the WBO Asia Pacific title. The move had been muted a couple of months ago, but bouts have now been confirmed involving the regional bauble for September. Unlike any other nation available regional titles are at a premium, with only the OPBF and WBC Youth straps recognised in the land of the rising sun.
This is a huge coup for the WBO who, along with the IBF, were not recognised in Japan until 2013, and with Japan arguably being the strongest country from 105 to 130lbs the Puerto Rican based organisation should benefit hugely from this agreement. For young Japanese fighters it is another avenue as a stepping stone to move on to bigger and better things, and more relevantly it gives a chance to domestic and regional level boxers to gain a ranking.