Asian Boxing Scene: Ruenroeng loses, Singh's homecoming

Marcus Bellinger
12/06/2016 1:44pm

Marcus Bellinger rounds up the latest news from the vibrant Asian boxing scene including wins for Tso, Murata. There's a new world champion, a homecoming and much more.

On 14 May in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center Rex Tso maintained his unbeaten ledger with a victory over Young Gil Bae. The home favourite was in full control throughout the contest and the super-flyweight prospect brought a halt to proceedings in round four to send the native’s home happy.

On the same show Ryota Murata saw off Felipe Santos Pedroso in four rounds to set up a meeting with George Tahdooahnippah, as part of the 23 July card being headlined by the 140lb unification between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol in Las Vegas. The 2012 Olympic Gold medallist will be hoping for a more exciting showing than his US debut where he scored a rather mundane 10 round decision over Gunnar Jackson last November, also in Los Vegas. There is other Asian interest on the card with Ik Yang facing Leonardo Zappavigna in a clash that should provide plenty of action.

Super-bantamweight Shun Kubo retained his OPBF crown on 16 May with a solid if unspectacular points win over the game Benjie Suganob. The southpaw, a product from the same Shinsei Gym as Hozumi Hasegawa, started the contest brightly and looked to be a level above his Filipino opponent. But Suganob raised the tempo and got the better of the last three rounds. It proved not to be enough with the cards reading 117-113, 115-112 and 115-113 all to Kubo.

In Beijing the IBF World flyweight title changed hands to the delight of many with John Riel Casimero unseating reigning champion Amnat Ruenroeng in their rematch on 25 May. The Thai looked to be in control in the first three rounds using a mixture of smart boxing and trademark body slams to tame Casimero. Things took a dramatic and conclusive twist in round four with the Filipino landing a vicious left hand upstairs to dump Amnat on the seat of his pants, with a crippling body shot sealing the deal for Casimero.

For the new champion the possibilities are endless but for Amnat, at the age of 36, it’s hard to see where he goes, and with his style which won’t appease many there won’t be a massive queue lining up to face him.

There had been much confusion at the previous day’s events with a mock weigh-in being staged as part of the IBF convention but unfortunately communication was sorely lacking with both fighters and their teams believing that both men had massively missed weight. 

It looks to be the end of the road, at least at world level, for Chao Zhong Xiong who lost a split decision to Jose Antonio Jimenez in an IBF minimumweight title eliminator on 25 May. Despite scoring an early knockdown, the former WBC titlist could not sustain the pace throughout the contest and Jimenez took the bout with scores of 114-113 twice overruling a tally of 116-111.

Kosei Tanaka put in a razor sharp display to stop the world ranked Rene Patilano in six rounds three days later in Japan. Seemingly feeling the benefit of the extra weight, the former WBO minimumweight belt holder was far too quick and sharp for Patilano. And now the prospect of Tanaka facing either Ryoichi Taguchi or Akira Yaegashi is a tantalising one. You can see Tanaka v Patilano here.

Donnie Nietes thrived in his homecoming bout demolishing Raul Garcia at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City, also on 28 May. Garcia was decked twice in round three before the Mexican’s corner mercifully pulled the challenger out at the end of round five to give Nietes a ninth successful defence of the WBO World light-flyweight title. A mandatory defence against Moises Fuentes at the Stubhub Center awaits on 24 September before a possible move up to 112lbs. However, when it comes to the Filipino fighting above 108lbs, seeing is definitely believing.

Nietes Garcia can be seen here.

Arthur Villanueva defeated Juan Jimenez although under highly unsatisfactory circumstances on 28 May. The fight was shaping up to be a cracker with the pair exchanging knockdowns before an accidental headbutt left Jimenez out for the count, with the referee wrongly awarding Villanueva the KO victory. 

In another cut shortened encounter, on the same show, Milan Melindo laboured to a points win over Maximino Flores with scores of 69-64, 68-65 and 67-66, and talented flyweight prospect Kevin Jake Cataraja easily disposed of Chatchai Or Denjjamas in four rounds.

The only Filipino representative at the London Olympics Mark Antony Barriga is set to turn pro on 24 June in an eight rounder versus Mark Anthony Florida. The 22-year-old southpaw is intent on winning a world crown at 105lbs as quickly as possible, and with the minimumweight pool being pretty shallow at the moment Barriga should be in the mix within a handful of fights.

Another 2012 Olympian who looks set to turn pro is Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu, with rumours of a link-up with the Ohashi Gym. The 30-year-old won Bronze in London and also has desires on capturing a world title in double quick time, and with their philosophy of matching fighters tough and pushing them at a rapid pace Ohashi would seemingly be a perfect fit.

9 July sees Albert Pagara take a welcome step up in class when he squares off against Cesar Juarez at the San Mateo Events Center. Juarez gave Nonito Donaire a tough battle last December, but surprisingly lost a split decision to Giovanni Delgado in March, and if Pagara is as good as I personally think he is then the 22-year-old should have too much class for Juarez.

A week later the long awaited homecoming for Vijender Singh will take place at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi with the 30-year-old to face Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific super-middleweight strap. With the first ticket being handed to former cricket batsman Virender Sehwag and other Indian icons, and dignitaries invited to be in attendance, this will hopefully open the door to a huge new market for boxing in Asia. 

In a very disappointing announcement Kazuto Ioka takes on Keyvin Lara at the EDION Arena on 20 July. Having put in a terrific display to stop Juan Carlos Reveco on the final day of 2015 this is a huge step backwards for Ioka who should be facing far tougher opponents. Despite a respectable looking (18-1-1, 6 KOs) record, further inspection shows that Lara has no wins of any substance and the Nicaraguan is in for a tough outing in his first trip outside of South and Central America.

Also now confirmed for this card is an intriguing bout for the vacant IBF super-bantamweight title with Shingo Wake securing home court advantage against puncher Jonathan Guzman. Two further title fights on the bill see Takahiro Yamamoto defend his OPBF 118lbs strap against Rex Wao and Yuki Monaka face Ryosuke Maruki for the national 154lbs crown.

The mandatory WBO World bantamweight title contest between champion Pungluang Sor Singyu and challenger Marlon Tapales now has a new date of 22 July to be staged in Thailand.

In just his third fight much touted teenager Hinata Maruta takes on Wilbert Derondo for the vacant WBC Youth bantamweight bauble at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center on 31 July. Maruta is tipped by many in Japan as the next superstar, and with a debut win over the more than decent Jason Camoy already under his belt you can see why. Derondo is undefeated in 10 bouts but is a complete unknown quantity even to many in the Philippines.

On 7 August gifted super bantamweight Kazuki Tanaka takes another step up in class when he squares off against Hideo Sakamoto in a 10 round contest to be held at the EDION Arena.

On the same day outstanding light-flyweight youngster Ken Shiro makes the second defence of his Japanese title versus Toshimasa Ouchi. The 24-year-old will be aiming to continue the momentum following on from his eye-catching first round stoppage of Atsushi Kakutani last time out.

Finally, in a perfect blend of youth versus experience Riku Kano and Katsunari Takayama will battle it out for the vacant WBO 105lb title on 20 August at the Komagatani Sports Park in Hyogo. Kano is coming off a solid win over Merlito Sabillo, and if successful the 18-year-old will become the youngest ever world champion from Japan surpassing Hiroki Ioka.

Takayama lost his IBF strap last time out to Jose Argumedo and at 33 has been in multiple wars, and provided fans with so many good memories. Having written him off more than once in recent times it would not shock me if Takayama found one last big performance. He has made a habit of rebounding from defeat and Kano will have to be at his best, and will likely need to go places he hasn’t been to yet in his professional career.