Asian scene: Ancajas impresses, Miura defeated
Marcus Bellinger rounds up the continent's significant action from July, including wins for Kenichi Ogawa, Hiroto Kyoguchi and Jerwin Ancajas, but a defeat for Takashi Miura ...
Kenichi Ogawa returned to his knockout ways as he saw off Hirotsugu Yamamoto to retain his Japanese super featherweight title at the Korakuen Hall on 1 July. Yamamoto was honestly never in the contest and a straight right hand dropped the challenger at the end of the first round. Ogawa floored his man again in round two and a follow-up attack brought a halt to proceedings.
There is now talk of a clash between Ogawa and OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific super featherweight belt holder Masayuki Ito in what would be an intriguing stylistic encounter.
Click here to watch Ogawa vs Yamamoto
Whilst there was tons of debate regarding the scoring of the bout between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn, IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas produced a sparkling display against mandatory challenger Teiru Kinoshita on the undercard of the huge event at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on 2 July.
Kinoshita, who seemed overawed by the occasion, was clearly second best early on as Ancajas picked his shots at will while cuts and facial damage only compounded the challenger’s problems after just three rounds. To his credit the Japanese southpaw tried anything he could and had the odd cameo of success but the Filipino was never in any trouble and continued to land sharp shots to both head and body.
By the end of round six, Kinoshita’s right eye was completely shut and in the next stanza a brutal body shot floored the challenger, who was in no position to continue giving Ancajas an impressive KO victory. Hopefully the 25-year-old can look forward to big fights in a stacked 115 lb division.
Flyweight contender Muhammad Waseem stayed busy with a second-round knockout of Eliecer Valdez in Panama City on 5 July ahead of an anticipated eliminator or world-title shot some time later on this year.
On 8 July, Mark Magsayo headlined the latest Pinoy Pride card from the IEC Convention Center in Cebu City and blasted out Daniel Diaz inside a round. The Nicaraguan - who had only previously been stopped by Koki Kameda and Andres Gutierrez - was expected to at least provide some resistance but the exciting featherweight dealt with his foe with ruthless efficiency and is now not too far away from challenging for world hardware.
On the same card, Jeo Santisima destroyed Tanzanian import Goodluck Mrema in a round and Albert Pagara stopped Patomsith Pathompothong in four rounds. There was also an upset as recent world-title challenger Melvin Jerusalem was outpointed by Joey Camoy over ten rounds by scores of 95-93 (twice) and 96-92.
The next day at the Divs Arena in Ekaterinburg, Russia gifted welterweight Qudratillo Abduqaxorov produced an assured display to take a unanimous 12-round decision over Dmitry Mikhaylenko to retain his WBC 'silver' 147lb strap. The first few rounds saw Mikhaylenko apply plenty of pressure with Abduqaxorov happy to fight off the back foot.
What could have been a pivotal moment in the fight occurred in round five when Mikhaylenko was cut and - under WBC rules - Abduqaxorov was deducted a point. As the bout passed the halfway stage, the Russian visibly tired having felt the sting of the Uzbek’s punches and, although a stoppage looked possible, Abduqaxorov had to settle for a win on the cards with scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 116-114.
Also on this show, lightweights Pavel Malikov and Daiki Kaneko engaged in a fan-friendly war over ten rounds with Malikov gaining the split decision via scorecards of 97-92, 95-94 and 94-95, while featherweight Mark Urvanov was slightly fortunate to take an eight-round split decision over Jin Miura with the judges' totals reading 77-75 (twice) and 75-77.
Tomoki Kameda is now on the hunt for a world title tilt at super bantamweight after a wide points victory over Ivan Morales on 10 July at the Korakuen Hall. Kameda was simply too quick and too smart for the Mexican over the first five rounds and although he attempted to force the stoppage, the Osakan had to be content with a win on the cards with scores of 100-90 (twice) and 99-91.
Kazakh middleweight prospect Meiirim Nursultanov easily disposed of Lanny Dardar inside a round at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on 14 July.
Click here to watch Nursultanov vs Dardar
Knockout CP Freshmart retained his strawweight crown by overcoming stubborn mandatory challenger Rey Loreto at the City Hall Grounds in Chonburi, Thailand on 15 July. Loreto made the quicker start and gave the champion a swollen left eye. After 3 rounds an upset looked feasible, however Knockout then began to have success with the right hand and over the next few rounds the Thai was landing with the harder and more eye-catching shots.
A right hand in round nine floored Loreto and, by now, the Filipino was up against it. Despite his left eye being shut Knockout again scored effectively in rounds ten and eleven and managed to avoid any disasters in the final stanza. The champion was duly declared victorious with scores of 117-110 (twice) and 115-113.
Click here to watch Knockout vs Loreto
Later on that evening at the Forum in California, Takashi Miura was aiming to unseat WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt. However, the Mexican set the tone from the off, dropping Miura in the opening round. It was soon apparent that the Teiken southpaw was badly struggling with the movement and speed of Berchelt.
Having only landed the occasional single shot over the first half of the contest, Miura threw caution to the wind and began to find a home for some left hands and body shots in rounds seven and eight. The pair continued to trade sickening punches to the midsection and, although Berchelt showed signs of feeling the pace, he stuck to his game plan and kept his boxing together impressively to take the decision on the cards, with the judges' totals reading 120-109, 119-108 and 116-111.
Hidenori Otake retained his OPBF super bantamweight title with a tenth-round stoppage of Kinshiro Usui on 19 July at the Korakuen Hall and will now face undefeated Hinata Maruta on 13 October at the same venue in an intriguing youth versus experience clash. On the same 19 July show, Shingo Wake made his return and saw off Mikihito Seto in five rounds while Rene Dacquel won a unanimous decision over 12 against Hayato Kimura to successfully defend his OPBF 115lb trinket.
Ryoichi Taguchi moved a step closer to a proposed light flyweight unification with Kosei Tanaka as he dominated mandatory challenger Robert Barrera at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo on 23 July. Taguchi, who has blown hot and cold in his world championship reign, began brightly and took the first round away from the Colombian who had seemed to settle nicely.
Barrera had brief moments of success over the first five rounds but Taguchi took the play away from him every time, landing with hurtful combinations to both head and body. The next three rounds saw the champion dish out an absolute hammering, which the challenger did well to survive, but early on in round nine the contest was mercifully stopped by the referee. This was - without doubt - Taguchi’s best performance since his victory over Ryo Miyazaki.
The other world title bout on this show saw Hiroto Kyoguchi aim to snatch the IBF 105lb strap from Jose Argumedo. There was no 'feeling out' process in the opening stanza as both boxers threw with bad intent and landed some solid punches between them.
Argumedo attempted to box and move in round two but reverted to type in rounds three and four, with Kyoguchi making a concerted effort to dig to the body of the Mexican. Apart from a head shot in round seven that stunned Argumedo, the next four rounds were marred by clinching, holding and wrestling.
Kyoguchi shook up Argumedo with a left hand in round nine and a follow-up attack put the champion on the floor but, luckily for him, the bell came just in time. To his credit Argumedo showed excellent recovery powers as the final three rounds saw more missing than connecting from both men. The final scorecards read 116-111 (twice) and 115-112 - all to Kyoguchi. The win for the 23-year-old completes a remarkable rise from pro debut to world champion in just 15 months and in only his eighth contest.
Also on this Watanabe show, Ryuichi Funai retained his Japanese super flyweight title with a seven-round technical decision over Takayuki Okumoto. Ahead of his clash with Rex Tso on 7 October, Kohei Kono also won in five rounds.
Ahead of his first world-title defence at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on 28 July, it’s been all change for Zou Shiming, with the WBO flyweight champion no longer working with Top Rank or Freddy Roach. The 36-year-old will be promoting the event himself and has expressed a desire to elevate Chinese boxing. However, with few fights left in his career going it alone is a risky move.
In the other corner will be Japan’s Sho Kimura who won a 12-round majority decision against unbeaten Masahiro Sakamoto in November 2016 to capture the WBO Asia Pacific flyweight belt to put himself in position for his first world-title tilt. The 28-year-old was stopped in a round by Shosuke Oji on his debut back in April 2013 and he has fought the majority of his career nearer the light flyweight limit.
Hot strawweight prospect Tsubasa Koura goes for his first title on 29 July when he squares off against Lito Dante for the vacant OPBF strap at the Korakuen Hall. Dante has eight losses on his record but the Filipino has shared the ring with the likes of Simphiwe Khonco, Jesse Espinas and Vic Saludar and has never been stopped, so a win inside the distance would be a statement for Koura.
After much talk and speculation a solid-looking super middleweight match-up has finally been consummated with Vijender Singh facing Zulpikar Mainaitiali on 5 August. The pair’s respective WBO Asia Pacific and WBO Oriental baubles will be on the line at the NSCI stadium in Mumbai and with a combined 13 KOs from 17 bouts we should be set for a spicy affair.
Singh’s last ring appearance came last December, when he brushed aside Francis Cheka in three rounds and the 31-year-old will be eager to push on to a future world-title shot. As for Zulpikar, the 23-year-old won his WBO Oriental strap in July 2016 stopping Thomas Mashali in four but he is yet to fight outside of the Chinese region. Akhil Kumar also debuts against Aussie Ty Gilchrist while Jitender Kumar makes his professional bow against Thai Thanet Likhitkamporn, with both fights scheduled for four rounds.
Shun Kubo returns home to the Shimazu Arena in Kyoto to make the first defence of his regular super bantamweight belt against mandatory challenger Daniel Roman on 3 September. Kubo will be aiming to build on his hard-fought victory over Nehomar Cermeno in April which saw the 27-year-old southpaw climb off the floor to eventually prevail with Cermeno retiring after ten rounds.
Roman impressively stopped unbeaten Adam Lopez in nine rounds in January to earn himself this opportunity and the LA native also has a fifth round stoppage win over former contender Christian Esquivel. The undercard sees Masayoshi Nakatani defend his OPBF lightweight strap against Ryan Sermona and Japanese minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi defend against Shin Ono.
We finally have a date and venue for Yukinori Oguni’s mandatory defense of the IBF super bantamweight title against Ryosuke Iwasa, with the bout taking place at the EDION Arena in Osaka on 13 September. Oguni required time to recover from injuries suffered in his rousing display to dethrone hard hitting Dominican Jonathan Guzman via unanimous decision on the last day of 2016. Iwasa warmed up for his first full world-title fight with a third-round knockout of Glenn Medura in March.
A second world title contest for this show has been confirmed with WBO light flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka taking on Palangpol CP Freshmart. Tanaka saw off mandatory Angel Acosta in May in an absorbing 12-round battle and the 22-year-old will realise any slip-ups will scupper the unification bout with Ryoichi Taguchi. After losing to Koji Itagaki in seven on his debut back in June 2011 the Thai has racked up 14 straight victories but against really weak opposition and the 32-year-old is a heavy underdog against Tanaka.
After an outstanding performance to stop Akira Yaegashi inside a round in May, Milan Melindo defends the IBF light flyweight belt for the first time on 16 September against Hekkie Budler at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City. After an up-and-down career, Melindo finally has the chance to fulfil his potential and be a major player at 108lb. After surprisingly losing his world championship to Byron Rojas back in March 2016, Budler has rebounded with a points win over Siyabonga Siyo and an eight-round stoppage over Joey Camoy.
Fast tracking boxers in Japan is nothing new - especially in the Ohashi Gym - and 3-0 featherweight Satoshi Shimizu vies for the OPBF title when he comes up against Sa Myung Moh at the Korakuen Hall on 2 October. The Korean is coming off a huge tenth-round KO upset victory over Ryo Takenaka in June to capture the OPBF belt and will be aiming to make it two wins in two in the 'land of the rising sun'. However Shimizu, who possesses KO power and a quirky style, could be a different kettle of fish altogether.