Asian Boxing Scene: Shiro shines, Uchiyama shocked
Exciting youngster Ken Shiro made a real statement by obliterating Atsushi Kakutani inside a round scoring three knockdowns in the process to successfully retain his Japanese 108lbs title for the first time. Given that his last two bouts had gone the 10-round distance questions about his punching power were surfacing but the BMB Gym fighter dispelled any of those concerns with a dynamic display that makes him one of the elite young talents in the sport.
Kakutani had been stopped by Adrian Hernandez in four rounds back in 2013 when the Mexican held the WBC light-flyweight strap. A world title shot for the 24-year-old won’t be too far away and, with a very beatable WBC champion in Ganigan Lopez and a number of domestic opponents, Shiro looks to be a permanent fixture at the top of the light-flyweight division for the foreseeable future.
On the same show, Keita Obara easily swept aside the woefully overmatched Petchdam Tor Buamas in a round to set up a mandatory crack at IBF light0welterweight belt holder Eduard Troyanovsky who himself retained his title with an even more emphatic performance when he dispatched Rene Cesar Cuenca in seven rounds in their rematch. With both champion and challenger possessing solid fundamentals and plenty of fire power, we should be in for a real treat when the pair meet probably in late summer or early autumn. For those who haven’t seen any of Obara, his encounter in the US versus Walter Castillo can be seen here.
It wasn’t the ring return that Randy Petalcorin would have wanted as the gifted Filipino was on the wrong end of a highly controversial decision to Omari Kimweri in Melbourne. Given the period of inactivity there was no surprise that Petalcorin had some ring rust and Kimweri’s rough house tactics also proved bothersome throughout the contest; however, referee Malcolm Bulmer’s failure to call multiple knockdowns proved to be decisive in costing Petalcorin the bout. Despite a point deduction for Kimweri in round 10 and a late surge from the 24-year-old the scorecards read 114-113 Petalcorin and 115-112 Kimweri twice.
A review has been ordered by the WBC as it was for one of their minor belts. For Petalcorin, whose career has been plagued by inactivity, this result won’t help matters and a man who was in the ‘who needs him club’ already could struggle further to secure a meaningful fight which would be a real shame for someone of his talent.
There was much anticipation from the hardcore heads about the clash between Yoshihiro Kamegai and Jesus Soto Karass with Twitter abuzz with excitement on the night. Just seconds in, both men let their hands go and the non-stop see-saw action continued throughout the duration of the 10 rounds leaving the crowd in LA thoroughly satisfied. There was no pretence coming in to the contest that either fighter was of an elite level or had the highest of boxing IQ but the heart and willingness to let punches fly and engage was most welcome and is something that has been lacking from many boxers far higher up the food chain.
Just going by my Twitter timeline at the time few were scoring the bout and honestly even fewer really gave a damn, it was just one of those enjoyable battles that delivered what was expected, an occurrence which isn’t frequent enough in the sport. Incidentally, the cards read 97-93 Kamegai, 96-94 Soto Karass and an even 95-95 leaving the result a draw which received no complaints from anyone. Like Roman Martinez and Orlando Salido, both men are far better off facing each other and let’s hope a rematch on a larger platform can be secured. If for some reason you managed to miss Kamegai Soto Karass it can be viewed here.
The mandatory defence of the IBF super-flyweight strap due to take place in the Philippines was cancelled with champion McJoe Arroyo withdrawing because of a hand injury leaving Jerwin Ancajas in limbo. The status of Arroyo’s championship position is now under review from the IBF with the legitimacy of the injury being assessed.
Nihito Arakawa reclaimed the Japanese lightweight title travelling to Kyoto to snatch the belt from Kota Tokunaga winning a unanimous decision with scores of 96-94, 95-93 and 96-92. Arakawa scored two knockdowns in the first five rounds and, although Tokunaga attempted to rally, it wasn’t enough and Arakawa prolongs his career at title level for just a little bit longer.
On the same show, Shohei Omori made a winning return after his humbling knockout loss to Marlon Tapales by stopping the extremely durable Espinos Sabu with a vicious body shot in round four.
Hisashi Amagasa came up short over 12 rounds against Josh Warrington in Leeds but the scorecards left a bitter and sour taste in the mouth. Warrington got off to the perfect start and had a handy lead after five rounds with the man from Japan looking somewhat lost. The tide turned with Amagasa’s unorthodoxy and looping punches making Warrington hesitant to throw combinations and, at eight rounds, we had a contest which was delicately poised.
The home favourite upped the tempo and despite Amagasa rallying in the final stanza Warrington had done enough to take the victory with 115-113 or 116-112 being a fair reflection of the night’s proceedings. There was utter outrage online when the scorecards of 120-107, 118-111 and 117-111 were read out adding to the dissatisfaction of the evening’s early bout between Stuart Hall and Rodrigo Guerrero with all three judges turning cards of 117-111 which was not at all a fair reflection of the highly competitive nature of the fight.
Both Amagasa and Guerrero must have felt utterly disheartened and it really does beg the question why fighters of any substance would risk coming to the UK given the consistently poor officiating with no punishment forthcoming for the persistent offenders both in domestic and international contests.
At the EDION Arena, Sho Ishida made the fifth and possibly final defence of his national super-flyweight title winning a majority 10-round decision over Ryuichi Funai. Early on, Ishida’s jab proved to be very effective but Funai hadn’t come to lay down and by the end of round four the champion had suffered a cut over the right eye. The challenger upped the pressure in the second half of the contest but Ishida also landed plenty of eye-catching counters. After the 10th round, where both men let it all out, the score tallies read 96-94, 97-95 and a level 96-96 with Ishida picking up the win. The Ioka Gym fighter has expressed a desire to move on to the world stage but we will have to see if he can make the step up in class. Ishida v Funai can be seen here.
Also in Osaka, Masayoshi Nakatani destroyed Tosho Makaoto Aoki in just 79 seconds to retain his OPBF lightweight crown and is in now real need of a step up in quality if he wishes to move on to the world scene.
As expected, Nonito Donaire retained his WBO 122lbs belt by easily swatting aside Zsolt Bedak in Cebu City. After a quiet opening round, Donaire firmly took control of the contest dropping the Hungarian twice in round two and finishing the job in round three. With a number of promising young fighters emerging at super-bantamweight, ‘The Filipino Flash’ isn’t short of challengers and a clash with hard-hitting bantamweight king Shinsuke Yamanaka is still an appealing one.
Fan-friendly featherweight Mark Magsayo prevailed in his biggest test to date, but the 20-year-old had to survive some rocky moments in eventually overcoming Chris Avalos in six rounds. Magsayo came out all guns blazing and had Avalos in real trouble in round two but the tables were turned when the American scored a knockdown in round three. The Filipino managed to compose himself and bludgeoned Avalos around the ring in round five. Completely unwisely, Avalos was sent out in the sixth but the towel was sent in during the round and Magsayo had showed the heart to come back from some adversity but his willingness to be drawn in to a war could be his undoing at world title level.
Down the line, a bout between Magsayo and Oscar Valdez is a tantalising prospect and one I would love to see. You can watch Magsayo v Avalos here.
Carlos Cuadras successfully retained the WBC super-flyweight strap for a sixth time leaving challenger Richie Mepranum sat on his stool and unable to come out at the start of round nine. The Mexican dominated from start to finish and called out flyweight champions Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada after the contest but a mandatory defence against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a rematch should be next.Rey Loreto chalked up a solid win halting Koji Itagaki in four rounds and, although the Japanese fighter started well, Loreto’s power led to Itagaki unravelling giving the dangerous boxer from the Philippines the victory. Loreto is more than worthy of a world title shot but whether anyone is brave enough to give him one is a different question altogether.
In easily one of the biggest upsets of 2016, Takashi Uchiyama (see main video) was unseated as super-featherweight champion by Jezreel Corrales inside two rounds at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo. The Panamanian’s speed advantage was noticeable in the opening three minutes and brought a change in tactics from the champion who attempted to apply pressure. This, however, saw Uchiyama being dropped by a left hand and he never recovered with Corrales scoring two further knockdowns before the contest was stopped just one second before the end of round two.
For Corrales, the possibilities really are endless but for Uchiyama, at the age of 36, it’s very difficult to see where he goes from here and it’s a crying shame that the hard-hitting 130lbs ruler never had the defining fight his talent and ability deserved.
Kohei Kono retained his super-flyweight strap recording a lopsided decision over Inthanon Sithchamuang. Despite putting the Thai on the floor in rounds four, five and seven, the tough Japanese warhorse had to be content with a points victory with all three cards reading 119-106. For Inthanon, surviving the 12 rounds was an achievement in itself but for Kono far tougher tests surely await with 115lbs becoming extremely stacked.
Ryoichi Taguchi also kept hold of his world crown with Juan Jose Landaeta failing to come out for the final round in their 108lbs showdown. In the early stages, the encounter was fairly competitive but the challenger’s 37 years began to tell and Taguchi scored his first knockdown in round nine after punishing the mid-section of Landaeta in the previous round. Landaeta was again on the floor in the 10th before Taguchi secured two more knockdowns in the following stanza to put the fight beyond doubt. Wisely Landaeta was spared the last three minutes and retirement would be the most sensible option. For the champion, there are countless intriguing contests to be made and it really is time for a real test for the Watanabe Gym fighter.
Opponents have been announced for the two main fighters on the 7 May Teiken card with Takashi Miura facing Jonel Gadapan and Toshiyuki Igarashi taking on Joel Taduran.
Exciting southpaw Shun Kubo defends his OPBF super-bantamweight title in Kobe on 16 May against Benjie Suganob.
Kosei Tanaka makes his first ring appearance of 2016 on 28 May in Nagoya versus the world ranked Rene Patilano. The 20-year-old has vacated his WBO strawweight belt with the intention to capture a light-flyweight trinket presuming he overcomes his Filipino challenger.
Finally, ALA announced their next big show set for 28 May in Bacolod City with long reigning WBO 108lbs titlist Donnie Nietes headlining against an as yet unnamed opponent. Two confirmed bouts for the show see former world title challenger Arthur Villanueva testing the waters at bantamweight in a 10-round contest against Juan Jimenez and there’s a rematch between Milan Melindo and Javier Mendoza in an IBF light-flyweight eliminator.