Asian Scene: Wanheng extends unbeaten run to 51-0
Marcus Bellinger rounds up the latest action from Asia, including WBC 105lbs champion Wanheng Menayothin moving to 51-0...
It’s now 51-0 for WBC 105lbs champion Wanheng Menayothin who scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Filipino youngster Pedro Taduran on 29 August. Taduran was immediately on to the front foot and round two was a highly entertaining three minutes of action.
Unsurprisingly the pace slowed, which suited Wanheng who was countering effectively. The challenger maintained his excellent work rate but a point deduction for low blows made his task even more difficult. Round nine was a terrific back-and-forth stanza and Taduran was giving it his all but Wanheng continued to land solid counters and another point deduction in round 11 for use of the head left the visitor needing a knockout. That never looked possible and at the final bell the cards read 118-108, 117-110 and 115-111. The Thai can now bask in the glory of his undefeated record amid reports that a trip to Japan at the end of the year is next for him.
The draw for the second season of the World Boxing Super Series was made in Moscow on 20 July and there was Asian interest in the bantamweight bracket with Nonito Donaire selected by Ryan Burnett and Naoya Inoue choosing to take on Juan Carlos Payano.
At time of writing no date or venue has been announced for Burnett vs Donaire but Inoue vs Payano will take place at the Yokohama Arena on 7 October.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had no issues in dispatching Young Gil Bae inside a round in their non-title encounter on 21 July. The Thai’s next contest has already been announced and he will defend his WBC 115lbs strap against Iran Diaz at the Impact Arena in Bangkok as part of a One Championship show on 6 October. The challenger has ten-round decision victories over Luis Concepcion and Hernan Marquez but has been stopped in seven rounds by Nordine Oubaali and in three by Juan Hernandez Navarrete.
Masayuki Kuroda had to climb off the floor to retain his Japanese flyweight belt against Akinori Hoshino at the Korakuen Hall on 23 July. Kuroda was dropped right at the end of round three but recovered sufficiently to take the unanimous points win with scores of 96-93 (twice) and 95-94.
Knockout CP Freshmart retained his strawweight world title in a poor 12 rounder against Xion Zhao Zhong in China on 27 July. Knockout was ponderous in the first couple of rounds with the challenger not doing much either. The Thai showed flashes of quality but they were sporadic. The action rarely picked up and most viewers probably gave up with proceedings and switched over to something else.
Thankfully the judges managed to stay awake and Knockout took the unanimous decision with totals of 118-110 twice and 116-112 but on this evidence he is a champion who is ready to be beaten and there are a number of Japanese fighters who would relish the chance to try and topple him.
Thankfully Sho Kimura gave the crowd in China some entertainment as he impressively halted Froilan Saludar in six rounds to retain his WBO flyweight belt.
Saludar actually got off to a bright start as he countered the champion effectively over the first two rounds. The pressure from Kimura then began to take effect in round three as Saludar was trapped on the ropes allowing Kimura to work away. The punishing body shots were taking their toll on Saludar and the Filipino was floored from a blow to the torso in round five. The writing was now on the wall for the challenger and another crunching shot to the body saw him down for the full ten count a round later and the fairytale of Kimura continues.
Next up for the reigning WBO titlist is a fascinating all-Japanese clash with former WBO 105 and 108lbs champion Kosei Tanaka in Nagoya on 24 September. Tanaka certainly has the significant edge in speed but Kimura’s relentless pressure, extra size and physicality could prove crucial in the second half of the contest.
Still on 27 July, in front of a heaving Korakuen Hall creating an electric atmosphere, Shingo Wake claimed the Japanese super-bantamweight title and, more importantly, put himself back in the frame for a world title tilt as he defeated Yusaku Kuga.
Kuga was like a rabbit in the headlights early on as he couldn’t cope with Wake’s slickness and southpaw stance. A left hand put Kuga down in round two and the defending champion was hurt again in round four but managed to stay on his feet this time.
Knowing he was well behind Kuga attempted to turn things around but the more he opened up the easier it was for Wake to score with punches. Kuga began to really tire and his corner stopped the bout in the tenth and final round, giving Wake the victory.
A day later at the Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida, Masayuki Ito produced a fantastic display to take home the vacant WBO super-featherweight strap as he dominated Christopher Diaz for the majority of 12 rounds. Prone to be a slow starter at times, Ito was sharp from the off and was beating Diaz to the punch early on. Too often Diaz would venture into punching range without letting his hands go and he was a stationary target for Ito’s favoured punch, the right hand.
The Puerto Rican hit the canvas in round four but amazingly he responded in the same stanza and had his best round in the fifth. Ito then took back control and the left eye of Diaz was becoming more and more damaged as the rounds ticked by. To his credit Diaz dug in and had his moments but at the final bell the visitor was declared the worthy winner via scores of 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111. A spot on a high-profile Japanese card now looks to be in the offing for the new champion.
Masayoshi Nakatani eventually stopped tricky challenger Izuki Tomioka in 11 rounds to retain his OPBF lightweight title at the EDION Arena on 29 July. There were also stoppage wins for Shohei Omori and Sho Ishida on the card versus Brian Lobatania and Richard Claveras respectively.
Daniyar Yeleussinov made it three wins from three in the pro ranks as he scored a shutout over six rounds against Gabor Gorbics in Cardiff on 4 August. As the contest progressed Yeleussinov began to find his range and Gorbics was pretty marked up by the final bell but the Kazakh did get caught with the occasional right hand and he is still a work in progress.
A few hours later in Atlantic City, Meiirim Nursultanov forced Jonathan Batista to retire after two rounds as the Kazakh middleweight continues to progress serenely as a professional.
Keita Obara gained revenge and took back the WBO Asia Pacific welterweight belt from Alvin Lagumbay at the Korakuen Hall on 9 August. With a point to prove, Obara was sharp from the off, dropping the Filipino in the opening stanza. Unlike their first encounter Obara stayed composed and was defensively responsible and had the visitor going at the end of round two. Another big attack saw the referee step in and stop the contest in round three giving Obara a much-needed win.
A bout that went completely under the radar saw Edward Heno retain his OPBF light-flyweight crown for the second time as he out pointed fellow Filipino Jesse Espinas in Laguna on 11 August. The reigning champion fought a smart tactical fight and whilst it may not have been thrilling viewing it proved mighty effective in neutralising Espinas, a very talented boxer in his own right.
The final scores were 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 and Heno took a major step towards a world title crack, although given the depth at 108lbs there’s no guarantee of it coming anytime soon.
We have a new IBF super-bantamweight champion after TJ Doheny won a close and competitive decision over Ryosuke Iwasa at the Kourakuen Hall on 16 August with scores of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113. The first five rounds were nip and tuck with more poking and prodding and actual big shots being delivered as Doheny landed with flurries whilst Iwasa relied on single shots. The sixth finally saw the fight come alive as both had their moments in an entertaining stanza.
The next four rounds were again close and a big finish from either man in the last two could have made all the difference. Iwasa dramatically upped the tempo in round 11 and had the challenger in real trouble but failed to capitalise as Doheny found a second wind to out work the man from Japan in the 12th.
The consensus from most was that it was a 115-113 type of fight that could have gone either way and whilst the 117-112 scorecard was wide of the mark Iwasa can have no complaints as he simply didn’t let his hands go often enough.
Still at the Korakuen Hall on 17 August, Satoshi Shimizu retained his OPBF featherweight title with a fourth-round stoppage of Shingo Kawamura. The challenger got off to a great start, showing real intent and he put it on the champion in the opening three minutes.
Shimizu then got to work, landing with solid right hooks and left hands. A thunderous southpaw left knocked Kawamura out of the ring in round four and the bout was stopped soon afterwards as Shimizu’s pursuit of a world title shot continues to gather pace.
On the same show Akira Yaegashi was involved in yet another thriller, eventually wearing down Hirofumi Mukai in seven rounds. Mukai began well with the jab before Yaegashi closed the distance and drew Mukai into the trenches. It was a real war of attrition from round four onwards with the momentum shifting this way then that and the sixth stanza was as exciting a round as you could ever wish to see.
Yaegashi somehow found another gear in the seventh and a big attack saw proceedings come to an end. The popular Japanese warrior is now eyeing a world strap at super flyweight.
A few hours later at the Fantasy Springs Casino in California, Uzbek standout Shakhram Giyasov impressively halted the tough Albert Mensah in three rounds.
The following day in Cebu City unbeaten light-flyweight puncher Christian Araneta scored a chilling 12th-round KO of Jerry Tomogdan to keep his perfect record intact.
On 23 August Hinata Maruta was held to an eight-round draw by Ben Mananquil in the Philippines with scores of 77-75 either way and an even 76-76. On the same day, over in California, Murodjon Akhmadaliev drilled Ramon Contreras inside a round to capture a minor super-bantamweight bauble in just his fourth fight.
Hidenori Otake was blown away inside a round by WBO super-bantamweight titlist Isaac Dogboe in Arizona on 25 August. Otake tried to press the action from the off but was met with spiteful left hooks and uppercuts and one of these hooks dropped him early on. The challenger got up but went straight back into the fire and was down once again and was stopped just over two minutes into the bout as the Ghanaian champion continues to impress.
In other news, the retirement of Kazuto Ioka proved not to be a permanent one, with the Osakan returning to face McWilliams Arroyo in the third instalment of the 'Superfly' series on 8 September in LA. Having been out of the ring for over a year this is a tough assignment for Ioka as the Puerto Rican is a difficult proposition and his confidence will be high after his win over Carlos Cuadras in February. The bout for the vacant WBO super-flyweight title between Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte will also appear on the card.
Despite missing out on the super lightweight WBSS tournament, undefeated former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion Hiroki Okada has now signed with Top Rank. The 28-year-old's first fight in the US will come against Cristian Rafael Coria at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California on 14 September as part of the undercard for the WBC 140lbs title contest between Jose Ramirez and Antonio Orozco.
Hiroto Kyoguchi has relinquished his IBF strawweight belt and will make his light flyweight debut at the Korakuen Hall against unbeaten Tibo Monabesa on 25 September. The plan seems to be for Kyoguchi to challenge for a 108lbs title on a big end of year show, with South African Hekkie Budler the rumoured opponent but he must take care of Monabesa first. The Indonesian has solid wins over Rene Patillano and Lester Abutan but facing the heavy handed man from Japan is a significant step up.
Tsubasa Koura defends his OPBF strawweight title against unbeaten Daiki Tomita on 29 September. With the minimumweight division opening up all the time it shouldn’t be long before Koura gets his chance at a world strap but he can ill afford any slip-ups. Tomita was due to face Kai Ishizawa for the Japanese Youth title at 105lbs on 27 July but the youngster now has a massive opportunity to gatecrash the world scene.
A day later at the SM City North Edsa Skydome in Quezon City sees the return of Reymart Gaballo in a non-title affair against Julias Kisarawe. Kisarawe should present no threat to Gaballo as the Tanzanian has been knocked out by Prince Patel, Jason Moloney and Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym, but with the bout being broadcast on ESPN5 in the Philippines this will give him a much needed profile boost. Also appearing on the card is the long-awaited return of forma WBO bantamweight titlist Marlon Tapales who takes on Goodluck Mreema.
Rikki Naito makes the second defence of his OPBF light welterweight crown versus Daishi Nagata on 11 October.
The following day sees a number of Japanese title eliminators take place, with the standout clash coming at light welterweight between unbeaten pairing Koki Inoue and Marcus Smith. Koki, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue has looked highly impressive so far as a professional but has struggled to get the right fights to move onto title level. Smith is taking a big step up but a victory over Inoue will propel him onto bigger things.
Unsurprisingly due to the pultry purse on offer, Hekkie Budler vacated the IBF light flyweight bauble and now the vacant belt will be contested in Melbourne on 20 October when Felix Alvarado and Randy Petalcorin square off. Alvarado is one of the best boxers not to have a world title and the Nicaraguan is a fearsome power puncher who has been avoided. Petalcorin seems to have been around for ever but the Filipino is only 26 and has had periods of inactivity during his career but he finally gets his big break although Alvarado presents a stiff task.