Asian Scene: Wanheng ties Marciano mark
Marcus Bellinger's latest round-up of all the Asian action sees world-title disappointment for Sho Ishida and Akihiro Kondo, but triumphs for Jerwin Ancajas and Wanheng Menayothin...
Sho Ishida’s attempt to become world champion saw him come up short against 115lbs titlist Kal Yafai on 28 October in Cardiff. The bout began very slowly with hardly anything of significance landed by either man in the first couple of rounds. The next four rounds went this way then that, with Ishida having real success when letting his hands go but Yafai retaliated and seem to shut down the visitor’s offense.
The champion gradually established his dominance over the fight with the man from Japan simply not doing enough to win rounds and allowing himself to be outworked. Neither was really hurt throughout what was a pretty forgettable 12 rounds but Yafai took the decision with scores of 118-110 and 116-112 twice.
Ishida will surely regret not being more adventurous but the contest showed the substantial gap between the elite and the rest at super flyweight.
The first of Terence Crawford’s vacated light welterweight belts was fought for on 4 November at the Barclays Center in New York as Sergey Lipinets and Akihiro Kondo tangled for the IBF strap. Lipinets landed the better shots in the first three rounds with Kondo happy to box behind a tight guard and slowly edge forward.
The fourth stanza was another good one for Lipinets who was looking sharp and relaxed. Kondo landed a solid right hand in round five and a cut suffered by Lipinets in round six seemed to spur him on even further.
Kondo continued to build on this momentum, having real success in the next three rounds as the output from Lipinets definitely decreased. To his credit Lipinets found a second wind in rounds ten and eleven before Kondo poured it all out in the last. We went to the cards and it was Lipinets who won the unanimous decision by scores of 118-110 and 117-111 twice.
Masayuki Kuroda easily retained his Japanese flyweight strap at the Korakuen Hall on 10 November as he recorded a seventh round stoppage over Mako Matsuyama. Kuroda will now face mandatory challenger Katsunori Nagamine on 3 March 2018 and the winner could very well be close to a world title shot.
The next day - still at the Korakuen Hall - Tsubasa Koura defended his OPBF 105lb belt against the once beaten Masataka Taniguchi in what looked a terrific matchup. The first four rounds saw both jockey for position and Koura had a narrow lead on the open scorecards.
Taniguchi really upped the pace in the middle rounds and was having great success with his southpaw left. Going into the championship rounds it was anyone’s contest but Koura managed to dig in and pull off a narrow majority victory with scores of 115-113, 115-114 and 114-114.
The 23-year-old is likely to get a world title tilt in 2018 and an absorbing 12 rounder such as this will have done him the world of good. As for Taniguchi he can certainly come again and is more than good enough to compete at title level.
On the same show Ohashi prospect Andy Hiraoka claimed the Japanese Youth light welterweight title with a fifth-round KO of Takahiko Kobayashi.
Filipino Reymart Gaballo made a splash on his US debut as he drilled Ernesto Guerrero in two rounds at the Hawaii Events Center on 15 November. Unfortunately this was only Gaballo’s first fight of 2017 but the 21-year-old will hopefully be more active next year and he is a young man with immense potential.
Jerwin Ancajas brutally dismantled challenger Jamie Conlan, this retaining his IBF super flyweight belt, in Belfast on 18 November. In what was a quiet opening stanza Conlan went down to what turned out to be a delayed reaction. A bad cut only exacerbated the home man’s woes in round two and a consistent body attack saw Conlan down again in the third.
Ancajas maintained the relentless bombardment to the body and after two more knockdowns the bout was finally brought to a halt in round six, completing a dominant and impressive display from the Filipino southpaw. The 25-year-old is now in line for some fantastic fights at 115lbs and a trip to the US could be upcoming in early 2018.
A couple of hours later in an all-Asian battle, Tugstsogt Nyambayar eventually overcame Harmonito Dela Torre via eight-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas with scores of 79-73 and 78-73 twice. Both men sized each other up in the early stages until a cracking shot from Dela Torre sent Nyambayar down in round two.
The pair then traded big shots for the next three rounds and Dela Torre suffered a cut in the fith. Nyambayar hurt the Filipino several times over the final three rounds but Dela Torre managed to stay on his feet and showed real resilience.
Wanheng Menayothin extended his perfect record to 49-0 - matching Rocky Marciano's career ledger and one short of Floyd Mayweather's - but was given a stern examination by Tatsuya Fukuhara in their WBC minimumweight encounter in Nakhon Ratchasima on 25 November.
The challenger flew out of the blocks in the opening round, demonstrating he hadn’t come to lie down and was intent on becoming the first fighter from Japan to claim a world title on Thai soil. After seemingly being caught off guard by Fukuhara’s lightening start, the champion responded well over the next three rounds and was landing with the harder shots although Fukuhara’s volume hadn’t decreased as yet.
The open scoring had Wanheng well ahead after four rounds and the Thai enjoyed a good fifth stanza but hadn’t found the formula to discourage his relentless opponent.
Given the energy sapping conditions associated with fighting in Thailand, maintaining a high work rate can be very risky but the Japanese southpaw showed phenomenal fitness to outwork and outland Wanheng in rounds six, seven and eight. The open scores of 80-73, 79-73 and 78-74 after eight rounds all in favour of Wanheng gave Fukuhara an absolute mountain to climb. Despite his best efforts over the last four rounds it wasn’t to be and Wanheng retained his title rather fortunately with scores of 116-112, 117-113 and 118-110.
You can watch Wanheng vs Fukuhara here
On the same day in the Philippines unbeaten featherweight Mark Magsayo unanimously outpointed Shota Hayashi with all three cards reading 116-112 in the latest Pinoy Pride card at the Bohol Wisdom School Gym in Tagbilaran City.
Also on the bill Albert Pagara knocked out Mohammed Kanbulata in two rounds, Jeo Santisima stopped Kichang Kim inside a round and Melvin Jerusalem won a unanimous decision versus Jestoni Racona.
Also on 25 November, Kazakh middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov scored his fourth stoppage in five fights by easily seeing off Eric Moon in a round on the Sergey Kovalev vs Vyacheslav Shabranskyy undercard in New York.
Among the upcoming Asian action, 105lbs belt holder Knockout CP Freshmart takes on Toto Landero in Bangkok on 15 December. This will be Knockout’s third defence of the year after stopping Go Odaira and recording a unanimous decision over mandatory challenger Rey Loreto. Landero scored a ten-round split decision win over Vic Saludar and he also has a victory over Rolly Sumalpong but the 22-year-old was stopped in six rounds by Joey Camoy. Only two KOs in his ten wins, coupled with this being his first fight outside the Philippines makes it a tough task against the Thai champion.
The end of year shows from Japan have become an annual part of the boxing calendar and this year we have two cards to report on, as well as a number of significant changes both in and out the ring.
Takashi Uchiyama and Kazuto Ioka have been the spearheads for the New Year’s Eve bills but Uchiyama has, of course, retired and the career of Ioka is in limbo after he vacated his flyweight title therefore cancelling his proposed 31 December mandatory defence.
There had been rumours swirling that a disagreement between Ioka and his father regarding Kazuto’s choice of wife had soured relations between the pair and at this stage it really is unclear if the Osakan will return to the ring.
Saturday 30 December sees a world title doubleheader take place in Yokohama as Naoya Inoue defends his WBO super flyweight strap against Yoan Boyeaux and Ken Shiro defends his WBC 108lbs bauble against Gilberto Pedroza.
Inoue will be hoping to make it three stoppages from three in 2017 after easily seeing off Ricardo Rodriguez and Antonio Nieves and the 24-year-old already has his sights set on appearing on the next Superfly card in early 2018 if he comes through unscathed against Boyeaux.
The Frenchman may be unbeaten in well over five years but his level of opposition has been poor and the only recognisable names on his record are Karim Guerfi, Anthony Settoul and Carl Frampton, who defeated him by unanimous decision over four rounds back in February 2010 in just the Irishman’s fourth contest.
After two hard fights against Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara, Shiro looks to have a far easier assignment against the 25-year-old from Panama. Pedroza is coming off a split decision over former world champion Saul Juarez and has fought five times in 2017 but was stopped in five rounds by former Ryoichi Taguchi victim Robert Barrera back in October 2014.
Also confirmed for this card are hard-hitting featherweight Satoshi Shimizu, who makes the first defence of his OPBF crown against Eduardo Mancito, and Takuma Inoue, who squares off against Kentaro Masuda.
Attention then switches to Tokyo on New Year’s Eve as a light flyweight unification between Ryoichi Taguchi and Milan Melindo headlines an excellent looking world title triple header. Discussions for Taguchi to face Kosei Tanaka in only the second ever all Japanese unification bout came apart when Tanaka suffered bad facial injuries in his title defence against Palangpol CP Freshmart in September. Melindo is coming off a hard-fought victory over Hekkie Budler but will have fond memories of Japan where he won his IBF strap by taking out Akira Yaegashi inside a round in May.
Meanwhile, Hiroto Kyoguchi will be up against Carlos Buitrago in a mandatory defence of his IBF strawweight strap. Kyoguchi won the title in a rough and tough scrap against Jose Argumedo and will be looking to set up a big 2018 with a more polished performance against Buitrago.
The Nicaraguan challenger has shown glimpses of real talent at times but has come up short in his three biggest fights, drawing with Merlito Sabillo for the WBO 105lbs belt in November 2013 and being outpointed twice by Knockout CP Freshmart. Over a year’s inactivity also won’t have helped.
The third world title tussle sees Sho Kimura tangle with compatriot and mandatory challenger Toshiyuki Igarashi. Kimura caused one of the biggest shocks of 2017 when he travelled to China and knocked out Zou Shiming in eleven rounds and he’ll be aiming to prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder against the former WBC flyweight titlist.
Igarashi has been receiving advice from his wife who works in cosmetics to try and prevent him being cut as four of his last eight bouts have ended in technical decisions since losing his world title to Akira Yaegashi back in April 2013.
This card will be broadcast in Japan on TBS, a change for the Watanabe Gym and it looks like TV Tokyo, their regular television partner, is no longer in the boxing business.