Asian Scene: Suzuki shines while Donaire progresses
An impressive debut from Masahiro Suzuki and an unusual win for Nonito Donaire headline Marcus Bellinger's latest indispensable edition of Asian scene...
On a card from the Korakuen Hall on 3 November, Masahiro Suzuki made a rather impressive debut, stopping the heavy handed Antonio Sismundo in the sixth and final round. Sismundo came with real ambition which forced Suzuki to really think about what he was doing and the debutant showed he had a good boxing brain.
As Sismundo began to throw more in combinations, Suzuki dug in solid body shots to try and slow down the visitor. After an untidy fifth round Suzuki stormed out for the final stanza, hurting Sismundo with a crippling shot to the midsection and finishing the job with a follow up attack.
Suzuki had shown real composure and produced a controlled display and looks to be someone worth making a note of.
A few hours later in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Nonito Donaire prevailed over Ryan Burnett to reach the semi-finals of the bantamweight World Boxing Super Series in what can only be described as unusual circumstances. Burnett looked sharp in the first couple of rounds using a sharp jab and cute combinations and it looked like he would be too fresh for Donaire.
Rounds three and four saw Donaire come into proceedings a lot more as Burnett unnecessarily held his feet with the Filipino able to trap him on the ropes. In then a freak occurrence, Burnett’s back gave way leaving him in absolute agony and forcing his trainer Adam Booth to pull him out after the fourth. Donaire will now face Zolani Tete in the last four sometime in early 2019.
On the same day over in Texas Janibek Alimkhanuly took an eight-round split decision over Vaughn Alexander with tallies of 79-73, 78-74 and 75-77.
Saturday 10 November was a busy day involving Asian fighters with proceedings beginning at the Korakuen Hall with four main bouts of interest.
Ryuichi Funai secured himself a crack at the IBF super-flyweight title as he was victorious over Victor Olivo. Funai did absolutely nothing in the opening stanza, allowing the visitor to get comfortable. Round two began in a similar pattern and those watching may have wondered what Funai’s plan was, but then the home man uncorked a peach of a right hand that dropped Olivo who somehow got to his feet. However, the Mexican was dropped again soon afterwards and the fight was over. With the win, Funai is now mandatory challenger for Jerwin Ancajas.
In a contest that never really got going, Shuya Masaki took an eight-round split decision over Izuki Tomioka via scores of 77-75, 76-75 and 75-76.
Shawn Oda grabbed the Japanese Youth lightweight title but was pushed all the way by Teiryu Toshikawa. The first couple of rounds saw both men try and establish themselves and it was clear the pair were evenly matched. Oda was the more gifted and moved well but Toshikawa never gave him a moment’s peace. Both fighters were briefly stunned and we now had an all-out war due to the pair tiring. We made it to the final bell and in a fantastic and closely fought scrap it was Oda who got the nod via split decision 76-75, 77-75, 75-77.
Kai Ishizawa overcame fellow unbeaten youngster Yuga Inoue to claim the Japanese Youth strawweight crown. Inoue was cautious early on, realising that Ishizawa possessed plenty of power. Inoue grew in confidence and after four rounds he was in the ascendancy. To his credit Ishizawa stuck to his game plan, continuing to pour on the pressure and in round five Inoue suffered a cut left eye. Ishizawa then went through the gears, dropping Inoue and winning via stoppage in round six.
In Ekaterinburg, Russian Uzbek Elnur Abduraimov notched up his third professional win, easily sweeping aside Aelio Mesquita inside a round.
Over in the Philippines, Melvin Jerusalem prevailed over ten rounds versus Toto Landero in an entertaining contest. Landero had his moments but for the most part was outworked by Jerusalem with the scorecards reading 98-92 twice and 97-93 at the final bell.
Finally Daud Yordan came up short against Anthony Crolla in a lightweight world title eliminator in Manchester. Yordan aimed to apply pressure but Crolla dealt with it well and was in control over the first five rounds. A body shot from the Indonesian seemed to hurt Crolla in round six, but the home man reassumed command over the next three rounds. Yordan managed to make a late charge but it wasn’t enough with unainimous scoring of 116-112 - all in favour of Crolla after the 12 rounds.
Masataka Taniguchi picked up the vacant WBO Asia Pacific minimumweight belt, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Joel Lino in Thailand on 13 November with cards of 119-109 twice and 116-112.
Wanheng Menayothin had no issues overcoming Tyson Lahagu in a six-round 'stay busy' contest in Thailand on 16 November. The next move of the WBC strawweight world champion isn’t known yet, but a bout with unbeaten Japanese fighter Tsubasa Koura is speculated for next April, perhaps in the land of the rising sun.
Satyrday 24 November was another busy day with the action commencing at the IEC Convention Center in Cebu City with the latest PinoyPride offering from ALA Promotions. The main event saw Jeo Santisima take a 12-round unanimous decision against Victor Uriel Lopez in what was a thoroughly entertaining scrap.
Santisima started confidently, digging in some hurtful body shots and he hurt Lopez in round two and a short night looked a strong possibility. The Mexican rallied in round three, taking it to the home man which led to some thrilling exchanges over the next four stanzas. Lopez was again badly rocked again in round eight but managed to survive. The Filipino did his best to get rid of Lopez, stunning him again in round ten, but after a final round of non-stop action we went to the cards with Santisima prevailing via scores of 118-112 and 117-111 twice.
Albert Pagara crushed Ghana’s George Krampah in round one with a right hand finishing the job. The Filipino super bantamweight is now ready to try and compete again near world level.
In his first real test, rising super-flyweight prospect KJ Cataraja impressively outpointed gritty Mexican Victor Hugo Reyes over ten rounds. Cataraja landed some sizzling counters in the early stages and was too sharp and swift for the visitor. The home man buzzed Reyes in round three but the Mexican showed a great chin and real resilience.
Reyes had his best moments in rounds seven and eight and although he constantly came forward, Cataraja remained composed and continued to score with beautiful sharp punches. After a thrilling last three minutes the judges were called for with no doubt of the winner with Cataraja victorious via totals of 100-90 and 99-91 twice.
In Monte Carlo, Daniyar Yeleussinov continued to show solid development in the pro ranks as he got rid of Marcos Mojica in three rounds. The Kazakh outboxed the Nicaraguan with ease in the opening stanza before dropping him twice in round two and again in round three when the bout was rightly waved off.
Over in Atlantic City a trio of outstanding Uzbek talents all made an excellent impression in stopping their respective foes. Murodjon Akhmadaliev eventually forced the referee to step in in the ninth round versus hard-as-nails Isaac Zarate.
Akhmadaliev took his time early on but soon warmed to his task landing with spiteful combinations with Zarate just soaking them up. Zarate didn’t have the power to trouble Akhmadaliev and his low guard also made it far too easy for the Uzbek to score with numerous shots. Akhmadaliev began to really hammer away at the body of Zarate and at the end of round seven it was becoming rather uncomfortable viewing with Zarate not much more than a punching bag. Thankfully the referee halted proceedings in the ninth as Akhmadaliev continues his march up the super-bantamweight rankings.
Israil Madrimov breezed through his debut as he stopped Vladimir Hernandez in six rounds. Madrimov showed no nerves, quickly finding his rhythm and, in trademark style, he launched a ferocious attack which saw Hernandez hit the canvas in round three. Indeed, the Mexican was fortunate to survive the round. Madrimov was content to pick Hernandez apart in rounds four and five before another big attack saw the climax of the contest in round six.
Shakhram Giyasov once again impressed as he dispatched Miguel Zamudio inside a round. Zamudio was down within seconds and despite taking time after Giyasov landed a low blow, the fight was over soon afterwards.
Lastly, over in Canada, powerhouse Sadriddin Akhmedov made it five wins from five as he swept aside Jose Francisco Zuniga in two rounds. Expect this young man to keep making noise in 2019.
Looking ahead to December, Reiya Konishi defends his WBO Asia Pacific light-flyweight belt for the first time at the EDION Arena against Richard Rosales on 1 December, while Masao Nakamura and Carlo Magali square off for the WBO Asia Pacific super featherweight crown it what should be an extremely exciting contest.
Also on 1 December over at the Korakuen Hall former IBF super-bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni makes his ring return against Indonesian Arega Yunian.
Mark Anthony Barriga gets his shot at the vacant IBF strawweight title when he faces fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona as part of the Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury undercard from LA on 1 December. Barriga thoroughly outboxed Gabriel Mendoza in May to set up this opportunity and the 25-year-old will be eager to shine on such a big occasion. Licona is undefeated in 13 bouts but with no real significant names on his record and with only 3 KOs between the pair expect this to go the distance.
At the recently concluded WBO convention there were various things ordered and agreed including at minimumweight where a clash between Robert Paradero and Wilfredo Mendez is intended to establish a mandatory challenger for Vic Saludar, with the fight to take place in Puerto Rico on 7 December.
In an important crossroads bout, Shohei Omori and Takahiro Yamamoto square off at the EDION Arena on 9 December with both needing the win to move on back to title level. Omori is coming off a second-round KO of Brian Lobetania in July in his only comeback bout after consecutive losses to Marlon Tapales whilst Yamamoto has run up low key victories after losing the OPBF bantamweight belt to Mark John Yap in November 2016.
The first of the big Japan end of year shows has been announced with the card to take place from the Ota-City General Gymnasium on 30 December. Masayuki Ito makes the first defense of his WBO super-featherweight crown against mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov. This will be Ito’s first contest since impressively dominating Christopher Diaz in July and another good performance could set up some intriguing unifications in 2019. Chuprakov is unbeaten in 20 contests but really struggled against former Ito foe Ernie Sanchez last time out.
Kenshiro aims to cap off a terrific 2018 when he defends his WBC light flyweight title for the fifth time against Saul Juarez. Kenshiro looked outstanding in stopping Milan Melindo in seven in October and is quickly establishing himself as one of the premium fighters on the planet. Juarez was widely outpointed by Wanheng Menayothin in August 2016 and really shouldn’t pose the man from Japan many problems.
The third 12 rounder on the card sees Takuma Inoue go up against Petch Sor Chitpattana with the actual belt on the line for his clash unclear due to the utter mess left behind when Luis Nery lost the WBC bantamweight strap on the scales.
New Year’s Eve sees two of the most notable fighters in the lower weights in recent years square off as Kazuto Ioka and Donnie Nietes tussle for the vacant WBO super-flyweight crown in Macao. After his ring hiatus Ioka looked tremendous in dominating McWilliams Arroyo in September and a win for one of Japan’s most notable fighters will set up some fantastic potential match-ups for 2019. As for Nietes, he gets a second chance at the WBO 115lbs belt after being held to a disputed draw against Aston Palicte on the same September bill as Ioka.
Hiroto Kyoguchi moves up in weight to challenge light-flyweight titlist Hekkie Budler on the same card. Kyoguchi is aiming to become a two-weight world champion when he faces the South African. This will be Budler’s first defense after claiming the title back in May when he defeated Kyoguchi’s stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi.
Moruti Mthalane is expected to defend his IBF flyweight belt against Masahiro Sakamoto and Vic Saludar is thought to be defending his WBO strawweight bauble versus Masataka Taniguchi, but at the time of writing neither of these bouts have been officially confirmed.
Edward Heno makes the third defenxe of his OPBF light flyweight belt against Koji Itagaki on 11 February in Hiroshima.
Top Rank are now seemingly targeting the Indian market and have made their intentions clear with the signings of Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan. Singh’s career really had hit the skids with his last contest coming last December and a proposed Commonwealth title in July shelved, so hopefully this new deal can revive his career with his US debut to come in the first quarter of 2019. Krishan had a glittering amateur career, claiming Commonwealth gold this year, medals at the Asian Games, Asian and world Championships and three national titles and the 26-year-old middleweight will make his debut on 18 January in Verona New York.
Filipino Charly Suarez has also elected to turn pro with the 30-year-old super featherweight to be trained and managed by Joven Jimenez. Suarez won golds at the 2009 and 2011 South East Asian Games and a Bronze in 2017 and also captured a silver at the 2014 Asian Games whilst losing to Joe Cordina in the Rio Olympics.
Japan’s Kohei Kono has announced his retirement from the sport and the 37-year-old finishes with a record of 33-12-1 14 KOs. A two-time super flyweight world champion, Kono certainly wasn’t the most skilful boxer going around but his toughness and all action style always provided value for money and he was in some memorable contests with the likes of Rex Tso, Koki Kameda and Liborio Solis.
Finally popular Japanese slugger Yoshihiro Kamegai has also announced his retirement from the sport. The 35-year-old finishes with a record of 27-5-2 (24 KOs). Kamegai will be remember by most for his wars with Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass. He also claimed the Japanese light-welterweight title and OPBF welterweight trinket.