Asian scene: Tanaka tames Taguchi

Marcus Bellinger
06/04/2019 9:08pm

Photo: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

A thrilling win for Kosei Tanaka against Ryoichi Taguchi headlines Marcus Bellinger's round-up of all of the significant Asian boxing action from March...

The March action kicked off on the second day of the month at the Korakuen Hall with a card headlined by a Japanese middleweight title bout and also featuring some notable unbeaten prospects.

Masahiro Suzuki scored his second professional win, unanimously outpointing Kelvin Tenorio over six rounds with cards of 60-54 twice and 59-55. Suzuki warmed into his work as the bout progressed and the visitor needed to show decent resilience to go the distance.

Meanwhile Jin Minamide took apart the usually durable Marjun Pantilgan in three rounds in a really eye-catching display. Minamide picked his shots well, attacking the body with intent and in the third stanza a barrage of right hands sent the Filipino down, leaving him unwilling to continue. The other young prospect Takuma Takahashi blitzed Jonel Dapidran in just 85 seconds.

On 5 March in Davao del Norte, Philippines, Charlie Suarez knocked out Justin Cabarles in two rounds to record his third professional victory while 8 March saw the welcome return of former strawweight world title challenger Denver Cuello who stopped journeyman Jack Amisa in two rounds in the Philippines.

Israil Madrimov destroyed Frank Rojas in two rounds in Verona, New York on 9 March. The stand out Uzbek did as he pleased in the opening round before unloading with a number of vicious head shots before a left hand saw the Venezuelan out for the count.

Over in Philadelphia Daniyar Yeleussinov notched up his sixth pro victory, scoring a wide points win over Silverio Ortiz on 15 March over eight rounds. The Kazakh scored a knockdown in round seven but was deducted a point for hitting Ortiz whilst he was down. The cards read 79-71 twice and 79-70 at the final bell and Yeleussinov can now move on to bigger and better things.

It was then on to the biggest fight in Asia so far this year from the Gifu Memorial Center on 16 March as Kosei Tanaka made the first defence of his WBO flyweight title against Ryoichi Taguchi in a clash that was broadcast legally, live and free on

There was no feeling out process as both men got straight down to work from the off, letting their hands go freely in a frantic opening stanza. The champion rattled off lightning fast combinations whilst moving in and out in round two but Taguchi did manage to wobble Tanaka in round three. The insane pace didn’t relent but Tanaka gradually began to break Taguchi down with the former world champion slowing in the middle rounds.

At the end of round eight a stoppage courtesy of the referee or the corner looked highly possible but Taguchi somehow rallied in the ninth, showing amazing resilience and character. Tanaka hunted a knockout in the last three rounds but Taguchi’s resolve wouldn’t be broken and at the final bell the scorecards were 119-109 and 117-111 twice, all to Tanaka who produced yet another fan-friendly display.

From the TV figures released, the bout drew an audience of over 3 million which given the late afternoon time slot is pretty decent as Tanaka continues to attempt to grow his fan base across Japan.

The co-main event saw Kento Hatanaka retain his WBC Youth flyweight belt for the first time, stopping Songsaeng Phoyaem in eight rounds. The Thai proved to be a competent foe, showing good skills. However Hatanaka’s work to the body proved fruitful as the contest progressed and from round five onwards the visitor struggled to stave off the attacks of the home man who eventually got the job done in round eight.

Saturday 23 March was a pretty busy day, beginning in Thailand as unbeaten light welterweight Apichet Petchmanee took on Japan’s Shota Suito over ten rounds. Apichet had really stood out in his first two contests but didn’t quite shine as much here. Nevertheless, the Thai still cruised to a unanimous decision via cards of 100-90 twice and 99-91. On this same show former IBF flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng to outpointed Brian Lobetania over six rounds.

On a card in the Philippines containing two IBF world title eliminators Samuel Salva and Michael Dasmarinas prevailed respectively. Salva defeated Rene Mark Cuarto at strawweight via decision with cards of 116-112 twice and 117-111 whilst Dasmarinas prevailed also on points over Kenny Demecillo with judges' totals of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.

Over in Ekaterinburg, Elnur Abduraimov crushed Dmitrii Khasiev in two rounds with a thumping blow to the midsection bringing the contest to a close. On the same bill Azhol Sulaimanbek Uulu eventually broke down the highly durable Mike Tawachai in eight rounds in an impressive display, although it should be noted that Tawachai was moving up two weights from his usual super bantamweight. The Thai - whilst remaining semi competitive in the early rounds - never came close to winning them and the volume and work rate from Uulu was impressive. A body shot at the end of the sixth made the visitor grimace and the relentless bombardment eventually tolled with Tawachai down three times in round eight from body shots with the bout finally concluding.

In California, Ricky Sismundo nearly pulled off a huge upset over highly rated Maxim Dadashev before eventually being stopped in round four of their light welterweight clash. The Filipino gatekeeper dropped Dadashev with a left hand in round two before a vicious left hook followed by a right hand left him out for the count.

There was yet more action the following day as Japanese prospect Yuki Yamauchi knocked out unbeaten Filipino Claudevan Sese in three rounds in Kobe.

In Almaty, Kazakhstan, prodigiously talented Sadriddin Akhmedov had his first fight at home but was forced to go the distance for the first time against Indonesian John Ruba. Akhmedov was in full control throughout the ten rounds and showed good stamina which is a big plus and at the final bell the scorecards read 100-90 twice and 99-91 with the Kazakh grabbing a minor WBC 154lbs belt in the process.

In California unbeaten middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov was given a good workout over eight rounds by Luis Hernandez, eventually prevailing on the scorecards with all three judges turning in identical tallies of 79-72. Hernandez would land the occasional right hand and caused some damage to the nose of Nursultanov but the Puerto Rican simply allowed himself to be outworked by the Kazakh throughout the eight-round contest. The Kazakh employed good lateral movement and mixed in more body work as the fight progressed and this sort of bout will do him no harm at all.

Hironori Mishiro overcame the always game Takuya Watanabe to retain the OPBF super featherweight crown on 27 March. The first few rounds were nip and tuck with both men attempting to establish their jabs. Behind on the open scoring after four rounds, Watanabe tried to ramp up the pressure but as he showed against Masaru Sueyoshi the champion more than held his own on the inside and was able to match the work rate of the challenger. Watanabe attempted to attack the body but again Mishiro never showed any signs of wilting and a strong finish saw him victorious via unanimous decision with cards of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.

The following day in China as part of the IBF Silk Road tournament undefeated Filipino flyweight Jayson Mama scored his biggest win to date, taking a wide ten-round unanimous verdict versus Fahlan Sakreerin Jr with judges' totals of 98-92 twice and 99-91.

Staying in China in Shanghai on 30 March Sho Kimura as expected wiped out Pigmy Kokietgym in three rounds in his first bout since his loss to Kosei Tanaka. The Thai had come in overweight but honestly it made no difference as Kimura did as he pleased in the opening stanza before going through the gears and dropping his man three times in round three to set up another crack at a world title.

Ryota Yamauchi suffered his first loss, going down to Wulan Tuolehazi in a terrific back and forth 12-rounder. Tuolehazi floored Yamauchi with a big right hand in round three and the visitor needed to be aware of the power of the local man. Yamauchi scored his own knockdown in round six with a beautiful left hook to the body. Yamauchi had climbed off the canvas, showed real resolve and looked to have done just about enough at the final bell but it was Tuolehazi who came away with the win via unanimous decision with cards of 115-112 and two laughable totals of 117-109.

The third main fight on this show saw Baishanbo Nasiyiwula upset by Yusuke Konno with the visitor scoring an 11th round stoppage.

A few hours later in Philadelphia Qudratillo Abdukakhorov won an IBF welterweight eliminator over Japan’s Keita Obara in an all-Asian tussle. Abdukakhorov proved to be the superior all round fighter and cruised through most of the contest but failed to really set the world alight against Obara, who whilst being fairly heavy handed had been shown not to have the best chin. The scores after 12 rounds were 118-110, 117-111 and 115-113 all to Abdukakhorov who will be a huge underdog against IBF titlist Errol Spence.

On a weekend of boxing upsets around the globe, Asia was no exception as OPBF strawweight champion Tsubasa Koura saw his world title aspirations go up in smoke as he was stopped in the 12th round by Lito Dante in Yokohama. Dante made his intentions clear from the start, aggressively pursuing Koura who managed to combat the Filipino's strategy in the opening round but the challenger dragged the champion into a battle at close quarters in the next two stanzas.

Koura brought a semblance of control to proceedings in the fourth, using his superior skills but this was already turning into a hard night's work. Dante then took back the ascendancy, making it his type of fight and two cuts from head clashes only added to Koura's problems. Koura needed a big turnaround but he was growing ever wearier and a flurry of unanswered blows in his corner saw the referee stop the contest in the last round and Dante had caused one of the biggest shocks so far this year.

Much adored Japanese warrior Akira Yaegashi makes his ring return on 8 April against Sahaphap Bunop in what should be no more than a tick over fight before something more significant later on in the year. Also on this Ohashi card a pair of unbeaten light welterweights face off as Andy Hiraoka takes on Atchariya Wirojanasunobol.

On 20 April in Kiev, a battle of WBO ranked lightweights takes place with home man Denys Berinchyk facing Japan’s experienced Nihito Arakawa.

The much anticipated rematch between reigning WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Franscisco Estrada will take place in LA on 26 April.

We now have a confirmed venue for the other bantamweight WBSS semi-final between Zolani Tete and Nonito Donaire with the contest to take place in Lafayette, Louisiana, on 27 April.

Hinata Maruta’s next bout comes on 1 May against Coach Hiroto with the possibility of the winner being lined up to take on the winner of the card's main event between Taiki Minamoto and Reiya Abe for the Japanese featherweight crown.

We also now have a confirmed date and venue for the mandatory defense of IBF 115lbs champion Jerwin Ancajas with the Filipino facing Ryuichi Funai at the Stockton Arena in California on 4 May.

Reiya Konishi and Felix Alvarado will tangle for the IBF light flyweight strap at the Portopia Hotel in Kobe on 19 May. This will be Alvarado’s first defense after overwhelming Randy Petalcorin on the road for the vacant belt whilst this will be Konishi’s second bout at world level after losing on points in a cracker against Carlos Canizales.

Finally Junto Nakatani’s first defense of the Japanese flyweight title has been confirmed with the unbeaten flyweight to face Wolf Nakano on 1 June.