Asian boxing scene: Kano denied
Marcus Bellinger rounds up the latest news from the vibrant Asian boxing scene including disappointment for Riku Kano.
There was to be no fairytale ending for teenager Riku Kano, who was aiming to become the youngest-ever world champion from Japan when he took on Katsunari Takayama in Hyogo on 20 August for the vacant WBO 105lb strap.
After a close opening round, Takayama upped the pace in round two before a head clash early on in round three left Takayama with a cut to his left eye. Having been in a similar position before and presumably fearing the contest could be stopped at any time, Takayama poured on the pressure and bullied Kano around the ring during the next two rounds.
Kano landed some nice shots at the start of round six before the referee brought the fight to a halt, with the cut proving to be too much of an issue. The bout went to the judges’ cards, with the scores reading 59-55, 59-56 and 58-56, all in favour of Takayama.
Whilst Kano will be disappointed not to have broken Hiroki Ioka’s record, he can certainly come again and should be in the strawweight mix at world level in the coming years.
Takayama is known as the “Lightning Kid”, although the “Comeback Kid” seems more appropriate for the 33-year-old, who is a world champion once again. However long his career lasts, we should enjoy it as he has been a wonderful servant to the lower weights and provided so many thrills and spills. For those who missed it, Kano v Takayama can be seen at: http://www.asianboxing.info/videos/katsunari-takayama-vs-riku-kano
A day later, Rene Dacquel retained his OPBF super flyweight title for the first time with a unanimous decision over Go Onaga on the road in Japan. Dacquel scored a knockdown in round eight and was victorious by scores of 117-110, 115-112 and 114-113.
The rebuilding process for Shohei Omori continues, with the hard-hitting bantamweight taking out Mexican Edgar Jimenez at the Shimazu Arena on 24 August. The 23-year-old used his southpaw jab to good effect and his left hand proved to be too much for Jimenez, with proceedings coming to an end in round three. With many fighters jockeying for position at 118lbs, it will be interesting to see where Omori’s handlers, Woz Boxing, take him next.
Iwan Zoda chalked up another victory by stopping Kaichon Sor Vorapin in three rounds on 27 August in Ketapang.
Fans who attended the 31 August show at the Ota-City General Gymnasium, in Tokyo, looked to be in for a treat on paper with two well-matched world title fights.
Kohei Kono defended his super flyweight belt against mandatory challenger Luis Concepcion. The challenger, known for being dragged into the trenches, instead fought a smart and disciplined fight, using movement to confuse and disrupt his Japanese opponent.
The pair exchanged shots in round four with Concepcion coming off the victor, forcing Kono to back off. Whilst Kono was landing, his blows seemed to have no effect until round nine, when a right hand appeared to momentarily stun the Panamanian.
Despite Kono’s best attempts to turn the fight around, Concepcion rode out the storm and took a deserved unanimous decision, with the judges' scores reading 116-112, 115-113 and 116-112. The full fight between Kono and Concepcion can be viewed at:
It was an all-Japanese affair with Ryoichi Taguchi squaring off against mandatory contender Ryo Miyazaki for the former’s light-flyweight crown. Both men looked to establish their jab early on, which suited the champion down to the ground with his extra height and reach.
Miyazaki was enjoying a fair amount of success throughout the contest, but Taguchi was always that one step ahead. Going into the last third of the bout, Miyazaki was well behind and made a valiant attempt to turn the tide, but Taguchi for the most part controlled the pace of the contest and landed the harder, crisper shots.
At the final bell, after a fun and enjoyable 12 rounds, there was no doubt about the winner, with Taguchi retaining via scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 119-109.
The 29-year-old will return on New Year’s Eve and has called for another big fight, but with Taguchi being Watanabe's only world ruler it’s unclear whether they will be willing to risk being left without a world champion on their roster. You can watch the light-flyweight scrap between Taguchi and Miyazaki at: http://www.asianboxing.info/videos/ryoichi-taguchi-vs-ryo-miyazaki
A new IBF super flyweight champion was crowned when Jerwin Ancajas dethroned the previously unbeaten McJoe Arroyo at the Philippines Navy Gym, in Taguig City, on 3 September.
Ancajas got off to the perfect start by nailing Arroyo with big shots in round one. The next few rounds were scrappy, with the challenger probably just edging things. Round six was another big one for the Filipino with his attacks, especially to the body, beginning to pay dividends.
By now, the Puerto Rican was looking rather sorry for himself and Ancajas scored a knockdown in round eight and was unlucky not to be awarded a knockdown in round nine.
To the crowd's delight, Ancajas easily staved off Arroyo’s weary attempts at a comeback and at the end of the 12 rounds the scorecards read 118-109, a much-too-close 115-112 and 117-110.
A big shout-out to Rappler.com and Ryan Songalia for providing live coverage and if you missed it you can catch Ancajas v Arroyo at: http://www.rappler.com/sports/by-sport/boxing-mma/145084-jerwin-ancajas-mcjoe-arroyo-video?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=referral&utm_medium=share_bar
A day later, Naoya Inoue returned to his knockout ways by stopping the tougher-than-expected Petchbarngborn Kokietgym in ten rounds at the Sky Arena in Zama.
After a slow start, Inoue hurt Petchbarngborn to the body and connected with some rasping combinations. However, the WBO 115lb champion was content to box and move instead of hunting for an early stoppage.
The champion unnecessarily allowed the Thai back into the fight between rounds five and eight, when some complacency crept in. But Inoue regained full control in round nine with the jab alone before launching a vicious assault a round later to finally see off the game challenge of Petchbarngborn and send the local fans home happy.
The man known as “Monster” might have had some issues with his right hand, a problem that has flared up on more than one occasion, so let’s just hope there is nothing seriously wrong.
You can view Inoue v Petchbarngborn at:
On the same show, Takuma Inoue survived a scare to outpoint Froilan Saludar over ten rounds with scores of 97-90 twice and 96-91. Saludar dropped Inoue hard in the opening round before the Japanese youngster stamped his authority on the contest, scoring his own knockdowns in rounds eight and nine.
The Filipino went for the finish in the final three minutes, to no avail, and Inoue prevailed in a bout in which he will have learned plenty.
Satoshi Shimizu left a favourable impression on his professional debut by stopping In Kyoo Lee in five rounds and Koki Inoue saw off Heri Andriyanto in two rounds.
Exciting featherweight Mark Magsayo takes on Ruben Garcia as part of ALA’S 24 September event at the Stubhub Center.
Ryo Matsumoto, who was due to appear on an Ohashi-promoted card on 3 October in a rematch versus Victor Uriel Lopez, has undergone surgery for hypothyroidism, so will be out of the ring for some considerable time.
Exciting prospect Masataka Taniguchi takes a big step up in class when he faces Dexter Alimento at the Korakuen Hall on 13 October. Taniguchi is unbeaten in four bouts, with all of his wins coming inside the distance, but his opposition has been modest so far.
Alimento pulled off a minor upset this January by defeating Chanachai CP Freshmart in Thailand, although the contest will be remembered for the distressing scenes that followed the Thai collapsing in his corner and subsequently suffering a bleed on the brain.
Shun Kubo is set to make the second defence of his OPBF super bantamweight title on 11 November against Korean Jin Wook Lim.
In a fabulous match-up of unbeatens, Muhammad Waseem is slated to face Giemel Magramo on 27 November at the Hilton Hotel in Seoul.
Waseem captured the WBC Silver flyweight bauble with a mature and classy display over Jether Oliva in July and the Pakistan-based Korean has progressed extremely quickly in just four professional contests.
Magramo, undefeated in 17 outings with 13 stoppages, is without a standout win on his resume, but the 21-year-old is one of the most highly thought-of young boxers coming out of the Philippines.
With fighters and their teams higher up the weight scale extremely reluctant to chance their unbeaten records, both Waseem, Magramo and their respective camps should be commended for their willingness to take a risk.
WBC strawweight champion Wanheng Menayothin is set to return in November, although no opponent, date or venue was confirmed at time of writing. This will be Wanheng’s third appearance of 2016 and the 30-year-old is coming off a solid if unspectacular victory over mandatory challenger Saul Juarez on 2 August. Dexter Alimento was a rumoured opponent but, as stated earlier, the talented Filipino is fighting in Japan.
Work has already started on Ohashi’s next big show, set for 30 December, with WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue set to headline, subject to the condition of his hands. Inoue is targeting a unification with Luis Concepcion.
There is already a deal in place for Takuma Inoue to challenge Marlon Tapales for his WBO 118lb strap. The recently crowned bantamweight champion was a man in demand, with offers from Japan, England and Australia.
Tapales received an offer to face Paul Butler in England and TJ Doheny in a late November date in Vietnam. Former opponent Shohei Omori also expressed an interest in a rematch. It is also hoped that IBF light-flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi will appear on the card.
Finally, in a bizarre chain of events, it was announced that the light-flyweight gold medallist from Rio, Hasanboy Dusmatov, had elected to turn professional under the guidance of South African outfit Golden Gloves and would make his debut in December.
However, this was news to the fighter himself. who stated that he had no knowledge of any contract and said his aim was to try to win a second Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Given the vast financial rewards available to boxers in Uzbekistan, most of the high-profile amateur standouts haven’t felt the need to go into the pro game and it’s highly unlikely that this situation will change in the near future.