Asian Boxing Scene: Pagara loses, Kamegai's rematch set
Marcus Bellinger rounds up the latest news from the vibrant Asian boxing scene including a first professional loss for Albert Pagara, Ryota Murata impresses and Yoshihiro Kamegai's FOTY rematch is set.
After the disappointment of Jonathan Taconing’s world title loss, boxing in the Philippines took another hit as unbeaten super-bantamweight hopeful Albert Pagara was stopped in eight rounds by Cesar Juarez on 9 July at the San Mateo Events Center in California. In front of a passionate and atmospheric crowd, Pagara got off to a dream start, nailing Juarez with a cracking left hook to score a knockdown in round one. From there onwards the fight took a consistent pattern with the Mexican regularly applying pressure and the Filipino attempting to counter punch.
Both men were having their success, but round seven saw Juarez’ strategy begin to pay dividends with Pagara being pinned on to the ropes and looking dazed by the end of the round. The end came early on in round eight, with Pagara being dumped in his corner and needing attention for several minutes. For the youngster from the ALA Gym a rebuilding process will need to occur but for Juarez, who seems to be a bit of an enigma, bouts with the top men at 122lbs would be entertaining if anything. For those who didn’t catch it Pagara v Juarez can be seen here.
There’s no stopping Tugstsogt Nyambayar who drilled Rafael Vazquez inside a round as part of the 15 July PBC broadcast on ESPN in Mississippi. The right hand proved to be lethal for the Mongolian powerhouse with the Puerto Rican being floored three times before the contest was brought to a halt at 1 minute 24 seconds in the first round. I know I sound like a broken record but it really is time for Tugstsogt to be let off the leash, and it’s slightly concerning that he could get lost amongst the hundreds of fighters under the Al Haymon/PBC umbrella which would be a crying shame.
It was a huge day for Indian boxing with the homecoming of Vijender Singh, who took on Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific super-middleweight strap at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on 16 July. The undercard was in the main competitive, but more importantly entertaining, keeping the crowd interested throughout and with local stars such as Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and amateur Queen Mary Kom in attendance there was a real big event feel to the show.
There was a big build-up to the main event and after a quiet opening three minutes Singh began to go to work, sending the crowd in to absolute hysteria even if a punch hadn’t connected. Hope was tough, brave and landed the occasional shot to keep the 30-year-old honest but there was no doubt of the winner at the final bell with the judge’s scores reading 98-92, 100-90 and 98-92 all to the home man, sending the vociferous crowd in to wild celebrations. There’s no news of Singh’s next bout but with England’s cricketers touring India in November, a boxing card after a day’s play could pull in a potentially huge TV audience.
A few hours later in Mexico Miguel Berchelt knocked out the durable Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in four rounds to retain his interim WBO 130lbs title. The Thai attempted to apply pressure but was ultimately outgunned and the Mexican scored two knockdowns in round 4 leaving Chonlatarn out for the count and needing to be carried out on a stretcher.
The sub-continent success continued on 17 July with Muhammad Waseem recording a 12 round decision win over Jether Oliva in Seoul. Waseem boxed smartly and intelligently throughout, and for only his fourth professional contest the maturity shown by the 28-year-old was impressive. The score totals were 119-112 and 120-108 twice and the Korean based Pakistani should gain a solid world ranking and should be only a handful of fights away from challenging for a world title. The Waseem-Oliva encounter can be viewed here.
It wasn’t to be for Shingo Wake who was stopped in 11 rounds by Jonathan Guzman for the vacant IBF super-bantamweight strap on 20 July at the EDION Arena in Osaka. Having a 100% KO ratio Guzman came in with a real punchers reputation and the Dominican lived up to the billing putting Wake on the floor four times in the first five rounds.
Many corners and referees would have halted the contest right there but the Japanese southpaw showed phenomenal grit determination and guts to rally back over the next five stanzas, and at times put Guzman on to the back foot.
Due to the grotesque facial damage and cuts the bout was wisely stopped in round 11 in a thoroughly exciting and absorbing world title fight with both men displaying the enormous amount of heart and courage which makes this sport so great.
For Wake, who suffered a suspected broken cheek bone and rib, a very long rest will be necessary as for Guzman, well there are many possibilities and there is no doubt he will be in many exciting fights if matched correctly. If for some reason you failed to catch it or you just fancy watching it again, Wake versus Guzman is here.
On the same card Kazuto Ioka eventually overcame the stubborn resistance of Keyvin Lara scoring an 11th round stoppage. The Nicaraguan’s work rate was outstanding over the first four rounds with Ioka being forced on to the back foot. Ioka’s clever counters and pin point body shots began to have an effect and by the end of round 7 the end looked to be close with Lara slowing down and his punch output dramatically decreasing.
The breakthrough came in round 10 with Lara hitting the canvas and only being saved by the bell and the Osakan finished the job in the 11th to complete an all-round solid display.
A bout has been ordered between Juan Francisco Estrada and Ioka and with both camps intent on staging the fight in their respective countries, it could be a tug of war to secure the rights and a purse bid certainly isn’t out of the question.
The other two title fights on the show saw Takahiro Yamamoto retain his OPBF 118lbs belt with a first round stoppage of Rex Wao, and Yuki Nonaka retained his national light-middleweight crown with a unanimous decision victory over Ryosuke Maruki.
The televised bouts from Osaka received superb ratings with around six million viewers tuning in to the Wake-Guzman encounter and approximately an extra two million tuning in for Ioka-Lara.
There was Asian interest on the 23 July Top Rank card from Los Vegas with Ik Yang and Ryota Murata both in action.
Yang took on Lenny Zappavigna in what was supposed to be an IBF light-welterweight eliminator but the Chinese fighter came in heavy so the bout became a 10 rounder at 144lbs. With the warning signs already evident Yang looked sluggish and sloppy throughout and was buzzed by a right hand in round 4 before being seen off early on in round 6 by the all-action Aussie who used his jab to good effect during the whole contest. Yang needs to have a serious look at where his career is going, but for Zappavigna hopefully this result leads to a world title shot or at least a fight of significance.
In contrasting fortunes Ryota Murata made a far more notable impression on his second excursion to Los Vegas, by disposing of George Tahdooagnippa inside a round. A vicious body shot put the American on the floor before a follow up attack brought an end to proceedings. The 2012 Olympic gold Medallist isn’t ready yet for a tilt at a world belt but he is certainly heading in the right direction.
In what looks a pretty safe next step Shohei Omori returns to the Shimazu Arena in Kyoto on 24 August against Edgar Jimenez. The young Japanese southpaw is still rebuilding after his crushing KO loss to Marlon Tapales last December and whilst the Mexican holds a ranking with the WBC he has been stopped seven times in his career and doesn’t seem to have the firepower to trouble the hard hitting Omori. Jimenez has fought as low as strawweight, where he was beaten inside the distance by both Moises Fuentes and Carlos Buitrago, and Hernan Marquez also defeated him by stoppage. But the 23-year-old did win a majority 10 round decision over recent world title challenger Ivan Morales back in August 2015.
It’s a homecoming for Naoya Inoue on 4 September as he makes the third defence of his WBO super- flyweight title against Petchbarngborn Kokietgym at the Sky Arena in Zama, Kanagawa. The man known as ‘Monster’ will be hoping for a more explosive performance than his last outing where he was forced to go the 12 round distance for the first time against gritty Mexican David Carmona in May. For Petchbarngborn this is a welcome opportunity after seeing his eliminator with Paul Butler fall through after the Englishman failed to make weight, but the light hitting Thai faces an uphill battle against the 23-year-old champion.
Also on this show Takuma Inoue takes on Froilan Saludar, with the aim of securing a world title shot for the younger Inoue sibling should he come through this contest. Saludar looked to be a promising prospect before he was knocked out in two rounds by McWilliams Arroyo back in 2014. The Filipino has strung together four wins since and presents a decent enough test for Inoue who has been fed solid opposition during his short career.
2012 Olympic Bronze Medallist Satoshi Shimizu also appears on the card in a debut contest over six rounds. Akira Yaegashi has been ordered to face Milan Milendo, so the chances of him appearing on the 4 September show look slim. And a rumour recently emerged from Thailand that newly crowned strawweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart could be travelling to Japan to make his first defence against Ryuji Hara on 23 October. So the Yaegashi-Milendo contest may very well appear on this particular date, but this is only speculation at time of writing.
10 September is a hectic day for Asian boxing with the sold out show at the O2 being topped by Gennady Golovkin defending his middleweight belts against Kell Brook. On the same card John Riel Casimero attempts the first defence of his IBF flyweight strap against unbeaten Charlie Edwards.
Edwards should enjoy a sizable support but the Englishman is taking a gargantuan leap up in class and the champion holds every other advantage including power and victories, and experience of fighting world class opposition. The 26-year-old is arguably the number one road warrior having won in China, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Argentina and also having fought in South Africa and Thailand. Apart from his KO win over Amnat Ruenroeng which saw him pick up the IBF 112lbs belt Casimero also has victories over forma WBC light-flyweight champion Pedro Guevara and Luis Alberto Lazarte amongst others. For those unfamiliar with Casimero or those who’ve only seen the rematch with Amnat his wild brawl with Lazarte which resulted in riots at the conclusion of the encounter can be viewed here.
It should be a terrific night at the Fabulous Forum later on that evening as Roman Gonzalez moves up to the 115lbs weight class to square off against WBC champion Carlos Cuadras. There is the added bonus of a rematch between Yoshihiro Kamegai and Jesus Soto Karass being placed on this show.
Whilst opponents for Donnie Nietes and Mark Magsayo are still to be confirmed for the 24 September ALA card at the Stubhub Center, one contest that has been announced is a rematch between Arthur Villanueva and Juan Jimenez.
A long rumoured IBF featherweight eliminator has now been officially confirmed for 3 October at the Korakuen Hall with Satoshi Hosono to face Jonathan Victor Barros.
Hosono will be looking for a fourth world title opportunity having seen his challenge to long reigning featherweight champion Chris John end in a no contest after three rounds. He also came up short on points to both Celestino Caballero and Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym at featherweight and super- bantamweight respectively. After the bout with John in April 2013 Hosono captured the vacant domestic 126lbs crown, and reeled off six defences but at 32 he will realised that this will be his best shot at securing another world title crack.
In recent times Barros has been fighting modest opposition at home with his last contest of significance coming up against Mikey Garcia who stopped him in eight rounds back in November 2012. The Argentinian also came up short against Juan Carlos Salgado for the IBF 130lbs crown in August 2012. Having captured a vacant world belt, Barros only made one successful defence against Miguel Roman before being outpointed by Celestino Caballero. He showed his toughness in March 2010 taking Yuriorkis Gamboa the 12 round distance. Also at the age of 32 Barros will feel this is a great chance to put himself in line for another world title tilt.
The other bout confirmed for this card is a rematch between Ryo Matsumoto and Victor Uriel Lopez. Lopez caused a shock in stopping the unbeaten 22-year-old in May with Matsumoto being taken to hospital after the fight. It was then subsequently revealed that the Japanese southpaw had been suffering from an acute illness, something that has flared up in the past so it will be crucial going forward how the folks at the Ohashi Gym handle this particular situation.