Asian scene: Linares back in Japan

Marcus Bellinger
28/09/2019 7:52pm

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Marcus Bellinger rounds up all the latest action in Asia, including Jorge Linares returning to Japan and much more...

In his first bout in Japan in around four years and his first at the prestigious Korakuen Hall in over a decade, Jorge Linares prevailed via ten-round unanimous decision versus Al Toyogon on 7 September but had to survive some rocky moments in the process.

The Filipino visitor applied pressure early on but the free-flowing combinations of Linares were evident over the first three stanzas. Toyogon rocked Linares early on in the foruth but was unable to capitalise on his success and the pace slowed in the next couple of rounds which suited the Venezuelan down to the ground.

Linares was buzzed again in round eight and was outworked in round nine but managed to prevent any further scares with Toyogon absorbing plenty of shots as well. Linares was declared the winner via cards of 100-89, 100-90 and 99-90. Those cards don’t really tell the story of the fight and retirement should be close for Linares who now presents minimal threat to the elite men at 135 or 140lbs. It would be a shame to see him used as a stepping stone for up and coming prospects.

You can view Linares vs Toyogon here

On the same day over in the Philippines we had a new IBF minimumweight champion crowned as Pedro Taduran took on Samuel Salva in an all Filipino battle. Salva got off to a great start in round one, boxing smartly, countering effectively and scoring a knockdown in the process.

Taduran wasn’t at all discouraged and continued to press the action. The momentum dramatically shifted in the third with Taduran pinning Salva on the ropes and giving him a bit of a hiding - indeed, it was pretty amazing that Salva managed to stay upright. Taduran was now on a roll and dished out a heavy beating to Salva in round four. Salva failed to come out for the fifth and Taduran had produced a brilliant display to become a world champion. However long his reign lasts we should be in for plenty of excitement.

You can view Taduran vs Salva here

Masayuki Ito was successful on his return to Japan, overcoming Ruben Manakane despite suffering facial damage during the bout. Ito used his jab to control proceedings before a head clash left him with a swollen right eye in round two. Ito remained composed, dropping his man in round four and twice more in the sixth to take the victory.

We have a newly crowned Japanese featherweight champion after Ryo Sagawa continued his excellent form as he outpointed Reiya Abe via scores of 96-94 (twice) and 96-95. There was very little to split them throughout with the momentum shifting constantly but Sagawa did enough in the end.

In a battle of undefeated men, Rikito Shiba claimed the Japanese Youth light flyweight title as he beat Shisui Kawabata over eight rounds with all three cards reading 77-74.

Over in New York, Murodjon Akhmadaliev easily saw off Wilner Soto in four rounds. The Uzbek was due to tangle with unified 122lbs champion Daniel Roman but American unfortunately pulled out with an injury. Hopefully the bout can be rescheduled for later this year or early next year. ON the same card, 2016 Olympic gold Medallist Daniyar Yeleussinov blitzed Reshard Hicks inside a round.

In a short notice world title tilt over in Los Vegas on 14 September, Juan Miguel Elorde was in the end overpowered by WBO super bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete. Elorde actually made a positive start, landing the best shots in the opening stanza. It was as if Navarrete was on a scouting mission and the Mexican went through the gears in round two, landing hard left hands and he was also awarded a knockdown.

The challenger showed real bravery and a great chin but he was rocked again in the third and the writing was on the wall. Elorde actually caught Navarrete with a cracking right hand at the start of the fourth but a fierce attack from the champion forced the referee to wisely call a halt to proceedings as Elorde had displayed immense courage but was ultimately not good enough against a young fresh hungry champion.

Daiki Tomita became the new WBO Asia Pacific light flyweight champion with a 12-round unanimous decision victory over Hayato Yamaguchi in Sakai City on 16 September with judges' totals of 118-110 117-112 and 115-113.

Undefeated Taku Kuwahara prevailed in his biggest test to date scoring a knockdown on his way to a shutout over eight rounds versus Jonathan Refugio at the Korakuen Hall on 17 September. Kuwahara dominated throughout with the Filipino offering plucky resistance but the size and speed proved too much for the visitor and it’s a case of onwards and upwards for the Ohashi man.

Carl Jammes Martin scored his latest win on 20 September versus Benezer Alolod for a minor bantamweight bauble. After Martin scored an early knockdown, Alolod provided some much needed resistance but eventually the pressure told in round seven and Martin got exactly the test he needed as this exciting young talent continues to develop.

Yusaku Kuga dispatched Yosuke Fujihara inside a round to retain his Japanese super bantamweight crown at the Korakuen Hall on 21 September. The challenger was dropped and despite getting to his feet a hook moments later left him in no position to continue and Kuga had won in emphatic style.

Unfortunately the gamble to put Tsubasa Murachi in with Froilan Saludar in just his sixth fight didn’t pay off as the Filipino scored an eighth-round knockout to claim the vacant WBO Asia Pacific 115lbs title. The Japanese youngster actually got off to a positive start, dropping Saludar with a right hand in the opening stanza. The Filipino quickly shook off any effects as the pair traded 1-2s in a bout that was being fought at a very slow pace. Saludar really let his hands go in round four, flooring Murachi and having him in trouble at the end of the round.

The pace then slowed in the next two rounds before Saludar upped the tempo and dropped Murachi for a second time at the end of the seventh. The home man was on wobbly legs and the minute between rounds wasn’t enough for him to recover and two huge right hands at the start of round eight dumped him flat on his back in a pretty dramatic ending. Murachi was stretchered out of the ring but thankfully he is OK and spoke to the press afterwards whilst this victory breathes new life back into Saludar’s career.

In a Japanese strawweight eliminator Masataka Taniguchi and Kai Ishizawa served up a belter over eight rounds with Taniguchi’s experience proving to be the key in the end. Both had success in the opening round, with Ishizawa rocking Taniguchi proving his power was no joke. Taniguchi was now acutely aware of the strategy needed and he boxed and mid and long range, landing with solid left hands to prevent the dangerous Ishizawa from getting inside.

Taniguchi slowed down somewhat in round five and Ishizawa took his chance, scoring a knockdown to put himself right back in the contest. Ishizawa seized on the momentum gained from the knockdown as he upped the pressure in a magnificent sixth round which saw both men buzzed at some point.

The all-out war continued in the seventh with Taniguchi taking back control to outbox and out punch Ishizawa. Ishizawa really went for it in the final stanza as once again the pair traded leather with Taniguchi to his credit going toe-to-toe, even though he could have coasted home and boxed cautiously.

At the final bell of a memorable bout Taniguchi took the unanimous verdict with scores of 78-74 twice and 77-74 and put himself back in the title picture whilst Ishizawa can give anyone at 105lbs major issues, especially if he can add some more wrinkles to his legitimate power.

Wanheng Menayothin will make a mandatory defence of his WBC strawweight title against Simpiwe Konkco on 25 October. The plan was to have this fight in the US but instead it will take place in Thailand with Wanheng aiming to move to 54-0.

Kanat Islam continues his comeback when he faces former world title challenger Walter Kautondokwa in Nur-Sultan on 26 October. The Namibian is best known for stepping in at short notice against Demetrius Andrade and somehow going the distance, despite being dropped multiple times. The Kazakh needs a win to maintain the momentum after being plagued by injuries and a victory over a fellow WBO ranked fighter should propel him nearer to a much craved world title tilt.

IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajas returns to make the eighth defence of his super-flyweight belt on 2 November against little known Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez. Hiroki Okada also appears on the bill versus Javier Molina with this being the Japanese light welterweight’s first bout since being stopped by Ray Beltran back in February. The card is topped by Miguel Berchelt who defends his WBC super featherweight bauble against Jason Sosa.

We now have an idea about the whereabouts for the WBO bantamweight clash between Zolani Tete and mandatory challenger John Riel Casimero with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions winning the purse bid and stating that November will be when the contest takes place.

On 23 November all-action Chinese featherweight Can Xu returns in California to take on unbeaten Manny Robles.

Koki Inoue faces Jheritz Chavez for the WBO Asia Pacific belt on 2 December at the Korakuen Hall. Chavez gave Rikki Naito fits in their 2018 meeting, dropping the OPBF champion twice so will be no push over for Inoue.

The first end of year bout from Japan has been announced, with WBO super flyweight titlist Kazuto Ioka to make a mandatory defense against Jeyvier Cintron at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo on the final day of 2019. Ioka will be aiming to build on his terrific performance which saw him stop Aston Palicte in June whilst Cintron gained his opportunity with a unanimous points win over Koki Eto in August in their rematch.

Finally, in a rather surprising and bizarre announcement, Masayoshi Nakatani has announced his retirement with the 30-year-old finishing with a record of 18-1 (12 KOs). Nakatani gave Teofimo Lopez a really tough fight in July and made 11 defences of the OPBF lightweight title.