Asian Scene: Menayothin begins 2017 with a bang
Marcus Bellinger rounds up all the recent action from the Asian boxing scene...
We’ve seen a mini revival of Indonesian boxing in recent times with Iwan Zoda spearheading the resurgence and on 21 January unbeaten light flyweight Timo Monabesa scored a notable victory over Rene Patilano to capture the WBC International Silver belt at 108lb.
Early on Patilano was well in the contest but Monabesa began to time and counter his Filipino foe with ease and at the conclusion the score totals read 117-111 and 116-112 twice. With this win the promising southpaw should gain a decent ranking with the WBC and will hopefully continue to improve going forward.
Speaking of Zoda, the 20-year-old was stopped in seven rounds by Robert Onggocan, losing his IBF Youth flyweight title in the process in a sizeable upset on 28 January.
The first world title fight in 2017 to be held in Asia took place in Phitsamuloke, Thailand on 25 January with Wanheng Menayothin retaining his WBC strawweight belt by narrowly defeating talented youngster Melvin Jerusalem.
The challenger was quick out of the traps, winning the first two rounds and displaying impressive speed, movement and shot selection. Wanheng did just about enough to win the next two rounds and after four it was all square. The next passage of the bout was closely contested but in round eight a point deduction against Jerusalem for a low blow proved to be a pivotal moment. Given it was a 'first offence' the punishment was absurdly harsh and it left the Filipino behind the 8-ball going in to the last third of the fight.
After the ninth stanza, which could have gone either way, the snap had gone from Jerusalem’s work due to fatigue and the Thai was happy to manoeuvre his way to the final bell thinking he had done enough to pinch a victory. The cards read 114-113 twice and 115-113 and the champion will be glad to have survived a real scare having been pushed all the way.
As for Jerusalem, the 22-year-old showed real promise and with a tad more seasoning there’s no reason why he can’t become a world champion and a force at 105 lb in the coming years.
Takashi Miura booked his shot at the WBC super featherweight strap by eventually overcoming Miguel Roman in a pulsating encounter at the Fantasy Springs Casino in California on 28 January.
After an opening three minutes where both men showed respect for each other, the action quickly heated up with very little to separate them after five rounds. Miura was the bigger puncher but was loading up on his left hand too much and Roman’s greater volume and accuracy was beginning to gain him control.
With the man from Japan sporting a fair amount of facial damage and tiring a change in tactics were needed and an emphasis on body shots proved fruitful with a sickening blow to the mid-section dropping the Mexican in round ten with the bell coming at just the right time.
Miura had now got his second wind and scored another knockdown again in the eleventh with Roman now looking a spent force. The Teiken man finished proceedings in the final round and next up for him is Miguel Berchelt who impressively halted Francisco Vargas in eleven rounds on the same card.
The following day Jerwin Ancajas headlined a card at the Cotai Arena in Macao as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations and the Filipino southpaw retained his IBF super flyweight crown by easily beating Jose Alfredo Rodriguez.
The challenger ploughed forward with intent but not much method and Ancajas picked him off with beautiful counters. The Mexican was soon becoming a bit of a punch bag as the champion went through his full repertoire of skills. Ancajas then forced Rodriguez on to the back foot, taking away any chance that the challenger had of being victorious.
The seventh round was one-way traffic and the fight had become a bit monotonous. After much examination in the corner Rodriguez was pulled out at the start of round eight citing a shoulder injury. Ancajas could return in April or May and the 25-year-old should be in the mix for big fights given the depth at 115lbs.
In a much anticipated rematch Yasutaka Ishimoto put his Japanese super bantamweight crown on the line against Yusaku Kuga at the Korakuen Hall on 4 February. Another close encounter was expected but Kuga bulldozed his way through the fight, landing a big right hand just seconds in and dropping the champion just over a minute in to the contest.
Ishimoto survived the round but the writing was on the wall and the challenger’s charge continued in round two, and the towel was eventually thrown in giving us a new national champion. For Kuga this was a real statement win given that Chris Avalos is the only other man to have stopped Ishimoto and the future looks bright for the Watanabe man. As for Ishimoto, it seems the countless wars have finally taken their toll but the 35-year-old has had an excellent career and been a terrific servant to Japanese boxing.
The other main attraction on this card saw flyweight assassin Daigo Higa extend his perfect KO record to 12 in a row with a victory over Dionel Diocos. To his credit Diocos was resilient and used plenty of nullifying tactics to try and disrupt Higa. The holding and clinching only served the Filipino for so long with Higa landing multiple heavy shots in round three and the assault continued in round four with Diocos eventually subsiding to the canvas forcing the referee to halt the bout immediately.
Next up Higa will travel to Thailand to scout the winner of the 4 March contest for the vacant WBC flyweight strap between Nawaphon Por Chokchai and Juan Hernandez with the 21-year-old in line to take on the winner.
A few hours later at London Olympia, Andrew Selby scored a ten-round shut-out to claim the WBC International flyweight title from experienced campaigner Ardin Diale. Diale had his moments, especially in rounds two and six, but overall Selby’s superior speed and fabulous movement never allowed the Filipino to gain any significant momentum.
Despite some lapses in concentration this was exactly the kind of bout the Welshman required and he should only improve as he edges closer to a world title shot.
It was recently announced that Ryuya Yamanaka had vacated his OPBF 105lb belt to pursue a world title and on 28 February at the Korakuen Hall Hiroto Kyoguchi and Armando dela Cruz will contest this vacant strap.
Featured as one of my 'five to watch' in 2017 Kyoguchi has blasted out all five pro opponents in his career so far and the 23-year-old looks to have as generous as an assignment one could wish for in a first title tilt. Dela Cruz has shared the ring with the likes of Sonny Boy Jaro, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Marlon Tapales and Nkosinathi Joyi but the 32-year-old fell short against all of them and has also endured prolonged periods of inactivity throughout his career.
Reigning WBC bantamweight ruler Shinsuke Yamanaka returns to make the twelfth defence of his crown in Tokyo on 2 March against Carlos Carlson. The hard-hitting southpaw is coming off a seventh round KO of Anselmo Moreno last September in arguably a career defining performance and the 34-year-old will be eyeing up the Japanese record for most world championship defences held by Yoko Gushiken which stands at 13.
The Mexican’s only loss in 23 fights came on his debut back in 2011 and he has picked up a few minor 118lb trinkets since but the 26-year-old is taking a gargantuan step-up in class to face one of the elite pugilists in the sport. The undercard consists of a rematch between Kenichi Ogawa and Satora Sugita for the Japanese super featherweight title while Brian Viloria and Ryosuke Iwasa also appear in separate bouts.
Tomoki Kameda returns to a Japanese ring for the first time since December 2013 when he squares off against Mike Tawatchai at the Korakuen Hall on 10 March. The youngest Kameda brother, who is now trained by elder sibling Koki, will be aiming to re-establish his name in the land of the rising sun and a victory over the Thai should gain him a ranking with the IBF.
Tawatchai has fought twice in Japan in recent times, losing to both Shingo Wake and Yukinori Oguni. Also on this bill Hisashi Amagasa takes on Kinshiro Usui and Ryo Akaho and Yushi Tanaka vie for the vacant Japanese bantamweight crown.
In a battle of the southpaws Rex Tso faces Hirofumi Mukai for a trio of regional super flyweight straps at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Hong Kong on 11 March. Tso, whose last bout was a wildly entertaining encounter against Ryuto Maekawa, can ill afford any slip-ups as he edges closer to a world title shot possibly sometime in 2017.
Mukai has decent wins against Mark John Yap, Sonny Boy Jaro and Konosuke Tomiyama but in his two world title tilts to date he was stopped in nine rounds by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and fought to a first round technical decision draw versus Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. With Tso’s all-out aggression and Mukai’s good boxing skills we should be set for a fascinating affair.
It will be a huge day for boxing on 18 March in New York with Gennady Golovkin tackling Danny Jacobs at Madison Square Garden, while the co-feature sees Roman Gonzalez make a mandatory defence of his WBC 115lb belt against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Srisaket has waited patiently for his shot for over a year-and-a-half since stopping Jose Salgado in an eliminator.
Both men of course share a common opponent in Carlos Cuadras with Gonzalez grinding out a hard-fought 12 round decision in September 2016 and Srisaket losing his WBC super flyweight via an eighth round technical decision in May 2014. Whilst Srisaket was behind on the cards against Cuadras the marauding Thai was beginning to get to the Mexican and if Chocolatito isn’t on his game he could be in for a very tough night.
Later in the month, on 25 March, Jorge Linares rematches Anthony Crolla and ends a hectic month for the Teiken Gym.
Ohashi presents a card from the Korakuen Hall on 27 March showcasing some of the company’s young talent. Headlining is Ryo Matsumoto vs Hideo Sakamoto. Also featuring is Ryuji Hara against Akiyoshi Kanazawa and Andy Hiraoka vs Shogo Yamaguchi while Koki Inoue takes on Mitsuyoshi Fujita.
Without doubt the stand out bout of the 2017 Champions Carnival comes in Kobe on 10 April as Masataka Taniguchi squares off against Reiya Konishi for the vacant Japanese minimumweight title in a battle of two unbeaten boxers. Taniguchi, another fighter featured as one of my 'five to watch' this year, made rapid progress in 2016, scoring a split decision over eight rounds against the skilful Dexter Alimento. The young southpaw is set to be one of the bedrocks of the Watanabe Gym for the future.
Konishi is unbeaten in 12 outings with 5 KOs and the 23-year-old has home advantage for his first title tilt but this is a step-up in class for him against the impressive looking Taniguchi.
Two days later in Osaka, Ken Shiro defends his Japanese light flyweight belt against Tetsuya Hisada before hopefully moving on to a world title fight.
Newly formed promotional outfit MJA Entertainment, headed by Australian Mike Altamura, have made a statement of intent with the capture of amateur standouts Daniyar Yeleussinov and Ivan Dychko. The Kazakh duo are set to make their professional debuts sometime in May in Beijing and given their credentials they should be moved fairly swiftly through the ranks.
An Olympic gold Medallist in Rio and a world championship in 2013 are just some of the highlights of a glittering amateur career for Yeleussinov and the 25-year-old welterweight should be in title bouts within a handful of fights. The gifted southpaw is an outstanding counter puncher with sublime footwork and also has the ability to trade when necessary - in style he is very similar to Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko.
At 6’9", Dychko is stereotypical of the new breed of super heavyweight. The 26-year-old possesses a long raking jab which keeps his opponents at bay and he is also very nimble on his feet for a man of his size. A double Olympic and three-time world medallist, Dychko was regularly in the mix with the elite super heavyweights but could never quite get over the line and win a major competition.