Asian scene: Kyoguchi crowned as former champs call it a day
In the latest edition of Asian Scene, Marcus Bellinger brings us news of Hiroto Kyoguchi winning a world title in just his eighth pro bout, while former champions Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura have retired...
Hiroto Kyoguchi proved to be a hit in the ring as he captured a world title in just his eighth pro bout and the 23-year-old was also a huge ratings success, pulling in an average audience of just under 3m viewers on Tokyo TV.
His 23 July bout against Jose Argumedo peaked at an outstanding 4.6m and the Watanabe youngster looks to be a potential superstar for the gym going forward.
Staying with the Watanabe Gym and their leading light for the last few years, Takashi Uchiyama has announced his retirement from the sport. The man known as ‘KO Dynamite’ finishes with a record of 24-2-1 (20 KOs) and made 11 defences of his super featherweight crown, scoring victories over the likes of Juan Carlos Salgado, Jorge Solis, Takashi Miura, Bryan Vasquez and Jomthong Chuwatana.
His reign was brought to an end, shockingly, by Jezreel Corrales who stopped him in two rounds last April while the Panamanian also prevailed via split decision in a rematch on the last day of 2016. Unfortunately hand and elbow injuries blighted Uchiyama throughout his career and a ring appearance in the US never materialised - even more annoyingly a rematch with Miura whilst both held belts also never occurred.
Speaking of Miura, the Teiken southpaw has also announced that he’s to walk away from boxing after his points defeat to Miguel Berchelt on 15 July. Finishing with a record of 31-4-2 (24 KOs), Miura was never shy of a tear up and many will remember his thrilling encounter with Francisco Vargas from November 2015 which was undoubtedly the fight of that particular year.
The 33-year-old’s August 2013 12-round war with Sergio Thompson was equally, if not even more savage than the bout with Vargas and it’s no surprise given his fighting style that such brutal fights have finally caught up with Miura who should be remembered fondly by all boxing fans.
Despite hosting cards in Macao, including a bout involving Manny Pacquiao, China has failed to gain any significant momentum in either the professional or amateur sides of the sport and the country absorbed a hammer blow as Zou Shiming lost his WBO flyweight strap to Sho Kimura at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on 28 July.
Kimura showed from the off that he wouldn’t be intimidated and he had designs on snatching the title. The champion landed some nice counters including a solid right hand in round three but the challenger continued to come forward and wasn’t to be deterred. Kimura made a concerted effort to attack the body of Shiming who was being made to work at a pace that he didn’t want to. Despite a cut suffered by the man from Japan in the middle rounds Kimura's tactics paid full dividends in round 11 as an exhausted Shiming was floored. Even though he rose from the canvas he was in no position to carry on giving Kimura a huge upset victory on away soil.
Trying to promote the event himself ultimately proved an unwise move by Shiming and at 36 retirement now beckons for the former two-time Olympic gold medallist although he has vowed to carry on.
You can view Shiming vs Kimura here
Yusaku Kuga retained his Japanese super-bantamweight title with a hard-fought decision over Ryoichi Tamura at the Korakuen Hall on 29 July. Kuga was made to work incredibly hard as Tamura pressed the action for much of the bout but the champion prevailed by scores of 97-94 twice and 96-94.
On the same bill Tsubasa Koura drilled Jaysever Abcede in four rounds to capture the OPBF strap and put himself in the mix for a world title shot at 105lbs. Coming in at short notice Abcede gave it a go but Koura controlled things throughout and a thumping left hand to the body finished proceedings.
Fights that look great on paper don’t always deliver, but the clash for the OPBF bantamweight strap at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka on 30 July between Mark John Yap and Kentaro Masuda certainly didn’t disappoint. Masuda got off to a flying start, dropping Yap three times in the opening three minutes. At this point the writing looked to be on the wall for the Filipino. However Masuda let Yap off the hook somewhat and the champion regained his bearings by the end of round two.
Yap was beginning to turn the tables and seemed to hurt Masuda at the end of round three. Yap then further asserted himself, dropping Masuda at the start of the fourth. There was no way back for the man from Japan and Yap celebrated a remarkable comeback after a fabulous see-saw battle.
Vijender Singh came through a huge gut check to narrowly outpoint Zulpikar Maimaitiali over ten rounds in Mumbai on 5 August. The first three rounds were pretty cagey with not much to separate the pair before Singh scored with some eye-catching right hands in rounds four and five.
A pivotal moment of the contest came in round six when Zulpikar was deducted a point for persistent low blows. The man from China hurt Singh at the end of the sixth and he was now really growing in confidence. The home man was fading rapidly and Zulpikar poured on the pressure over the next four rounds but it proved not to be quite enough as Singh took the decision with scores of 96-93 and 95-94 twice
Even in a shallow super-middleweight pool Singh is still some way off from challenging for a world title and will need to work on his stamina. As for Zulpikar, the youngster can certainly rebound and come again and he can be in some exciting fights in the future.
The undercard saw Neeraj Goyat retain his WBC Asian welterweight belt with a 12-round unanimous decision over Allan Tanada although the scorecards of 118-110 and 119-109 twice were not a fair reflection of what took place. Meanwhile, Akhil and Jitender Kumar both got their pro careers up and running with second-round knockouts.
Luis Nery seemed to have come of age on 15 August when he dethroned long time WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka at the Shimazu Arena in Kyoto. Yamanaka made a pretty positive start in the opening stanza, landing with the jab and the straight left hand. Round two followed a similar pattern but Nery was beginning to open up offensively.
The 22-year-old challenger continued to grow in confidence in round three and we now had an intriguing fight on our hands. Nery shook Yamanaka early on in round four and then launched a relentless assault which eventually saw Yamanaka’s corner stop the fight and a new champion was crowned.
However, the Mexican has subsequently failed a drugs test for the substance zilpaterol and at the time of writing no judgement has been made by the WBC as to the next steps. Yamanaka stated that retirement had been on his mind but with these latest developments who knows what the future is for the 34-year-old. The bout was watched by an average audience of 4m in the Kanto region and reached a peak of 7m.
Reigning WBC strawweight king Wanheng Menayothin moved his record to 48-0 with a six-round points win over Jack Amisa on 25 August.
It wasn’t to be for Yoshihiro Kamegai who came up well short against Miguel Cotto for the vacant WBO light middleweight belt at the Stub Hub Center in California on 26 August. Kamegai actually got off to a decent start, landing with some good shots in round one. Cotto then took control though, landing at will on the hard as nails Japanese fighter.
Most of the rounds followed a similar tone with Cotto scoring with a crisp jab and solid combinations and Kamegai continuing to pour forward and never looking at all discouraged. Kamegai displayed an insanely solid chin and attempted a grandstand finish in the final round but there was no doubt of the winner and Cotto duly prevailed by scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110.
We have a new WBO minimumweight champion after Ryuya Yamanaka defeated Tatsuya Fukuhara in Kumamoto on 27 August. There wasn’t much to split these two, with Fukuhara on the front foot and Yamanaka looking to box and move. After 8 rounds the fight was in the balance, however it was the challenger who pulled away in the last third to take the unanimous decision with cards of 116-112 and 115-113 twice.
After a ring absence of just under a year Takuma Inoue returned to outpoint Hiroyuki Kudaka at the Korakuen Hall on 30 August. Inoue made a brisk start, landing with sharp shots and moving well around the ring. Kudaka attempted to make it a fire fight and Inoue was only happy to oblige which lead to a thoroughly entertaining affair.
Kudaka suffered a bad cut to his left eye and despite his efforts it was Inoue who was the clear winner with judges' totals of 98-92, 98-93 and 97-94.
Ryo Matsumoto stopped Jason Butar Butar in five rounds on the same card. Butar Butar put in a courageous performance but the Indonesian was simply outgunned by the heavy handed Matsumoto. Also on this Ohashi bill Koki Inoue - the cousin of Naoya and Takuma - moved a step closer to a Japanese title fight at light welterweight with a second-round stoppage over Cristiano Aoqui. After an intriguing opening round the contest came to an unfortunate end with Aoqui unable to continue due to a back injury.
The mandatory challenger for IBF flyweight champion Donnie Nietes will be confirmed on 8 September in Mendoza, Argentina when Juan Carlos Reveco battles it out with Eaktawan BTU Ruaviking. Reveco has notched up two points victories since being stopped by Kazuto Ioka on the last day of 2015. At 33 this could be his last chance to secure a world-title tilt. Eaktawan proved to be a tough out for Nietes in their 12 round bout in April and will be eager to secure a rematch against the Filipino.
All Filipino bouts of significance are exceedingly rare but on 16 September at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City former two-weight world champion Johnriel Casimero faces Jonas Sultan with the winner mandatory to IBF 115lb titlist Jerwin Ancajas. The contest is the co-main event of the IBF light flyweight clash between Milan Melindo and Hekkie Budler. Casimero certainly has the edge in top-flight experience having campaigned all over the globe and taken on the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng, Pedro Guevara, Luis Alberto Lazarte and Moruti Mthalane. Sultan is coming off an impressive KO of veteran Sonny Boy Jaro in May and he also has stoppage wins on the road against Makazole Tete and Tatsuya Ikemizu.
Genesis Servania has his first tilt at a world title when he travels to face WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez at the Convention Center in Tucson Arizona on 22 September. Servania is now based out of Japan and has fought his last three bouts there. Despite racking up a perfect 29-0 record his career has been a real slow burner and the 26-year-old seems to have been around for ever. He has respectable wins over Alexander Munoz, Rafael Concepcion and Angky Angkotta but taking on Valdez will be a different prospect altogether. Olympic gold medallist from Rio Fazliddin Gaibnazarov is also set to feature on this card with no opponent confirmed at the time of writing.
Romero Duno will appear on the undercard of Jorge Linares' lightweight title defense against Luke Campbell from LA on 23 September. On the same day Muhammad Waseem returns to action when he takes on Jorle Estrada in Colombia.
Kenichi Ogawa makes the sixth defence of his Japanese super featherweight title versus Tsuyoshi Tojo on 7 October from the Korakuen Hall. Ogawa is also in line for a shot at the vacant IBF title against Billy Dib with Gervonta Davis having been stripped due to a recent failure to make weight.
After being on the wrong end of one of the worst decisions seen in recent times Ryota Murata has the chance for redemption when he rematches Hassan N’Dam in Tokyo on 22 October. Also on this bill is a first defence for WBC flyweight champion Daigo Higa who squares off against Frenchman Thomas Masson. Masson is a two-time European flyweight champion and has wins over unbeaten Oleksandr Hryshchuk and Silvio Alteanu but the 27-year-old doesn’t look to have the punching power to derail the ferocious Higa.
After capturing a world title on the road in February, Kazakhstan’s Zhanat Zhakiyanov has the chance to add a second belt when he takes on IBF bantamweight ruler Ryan Burnett in Belfast on 21 October.