Asian scene part 1: Zhakiyanov annexes bantam title
In the first of an epic two-part Asian Scene for this month, Marcus Bellinger rounds up the continent's significant action from February, including a memorable world-title triumph for Zhanat Zhakiyanov...
We have a new Asian bantamweight world titlist after Zhanat Zhakiyanov dethroned Rau’shee Warren via split decision at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio on 10 February.
The Kazakh got off to the worst possible start, suffering two knockdowns in the first round, however he regrouped quickly and was unfortunate not to be awarded his own knockdown in round three. The challenger was having great success at pushing Warren back and the American, whose nose was bloodied, was soon beginning to feel sorry for himself.
Going in to the championship rounds the bout was up for grabs but it was Zhakiyanov who continued to press and at the final bell the scores read 111-115, 115-111 and 116-110 to the 33-year-old Ricky Hatton-trained man.
Hours earlier a pair of unbeaten Uzbeks headlined a card in Singapore. Middleweight Azizbek Abdugofurov was taken the distance for the first time in his career, winning a unanimous 12-round decision against Sirimongkol Sinwancha with scores of 115-112, 119-108 and 116-112. Abdugofurov would probably have expected to stop the 39-year-old former two-time world titlist from Thailand but 12 rounds in the bank should do him no harm at all. This was only his fifth pro contest and there’s no need to rush him too rapidly.
Welterweight Qudratillo Abduqaxorov extended his perfect record to 10-0 with 7 KOs after a third-round stoppage of Idd Pialari. Pialari was a late replacement and was dismantled in quick fashion with experienced Ukrainian Viktor Plotnikov being the original opponent.
Abduqaxorov next faces the dangerous and unorthodox Charles Manyuchi for the WBC Silver welterweight strap on 25 March in Singapore. Lightweight contender Daud Yordan is also slated to appear on this bill when he takes on Campee Phayom in an eight-rounder.
Unbeaten Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga won a unanimous eight-round decision over Geboi Mansalayao at the Makati Cinema square in Makati City on 18 February. The judges’ totals read 80-72 and 79-73 twice with the 22-year-old notching up his fourth victory as a professional.
Tugstsogt Nyambayar maintained his 100% KO streak with a tenth-round stoppage of rugged Filipino Jhon Gemino at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama on 25 February. The bout, which was made at short notice, was broadcast in the US on Fox Sports 1 on a card that was headlined by the WBC heavyweight contest between Deontay Wilder and Gerald Washington.
Nyambayar didn’t have it all his own way in the early stages with Gemino showing he had come to fight and not just to make up the numbers. It wasn’t long before the heavy hands of Nyambayar came in to play though, with a knockdown coming in round three and two more in round six. By this point it looked a case of when not if the stoppage would materialise.
To his immense credit, Gemino refused to wilt and Nyambayar was happy to box within himself and put some valuable rounds in the bank. The Mongolian destroyer then upped the gears in the final round and the contest was brought to a halt just over a minute in, putting the icing on the cake of what had been a solid all-round display from the 24-year-old, who should be in the world-title mix in the very near future.
The remarkable career rejuvenation of Tatsuya Fukuhara continued as the 26-year-old captured the interim WBO 105lb crown defeating Moises Calleros in Kumamoto on 26 February. There was nothing to choose between both fighters in the first half of the contest, with Fukuhara boxing and moving while Calleros applied constant pressure.
Fukuhara then switched his attack to the body and this tactic paid dividends with scores of 116-112 twice and 113-115 at the final bell giving the Japanese southpaw the victory and setting up a bout with full champion Katsunari Takayama in what could undoubtedly prove a candidate for fight of the year.
Also on 26 February light flyweight contender Randy Petalcorin scored a seventh-round KO of Mark Anthony Florida at the Lagao Gym in General Santos City, Cotabato Del Sur, Philippines.
Elsewhere, Hiroto Kyoguchi sent out a warning message to the strawweight division with a three-round demolition job on Armando de la Cruz for the OPBF title at the Korakuen Hall on 28 February. Kyoguchi immediately took the centre of the ring and buzzed the Filipino who did well to survive the opening round. Kyoguchi’s power soon took its toll with his foe hitting the canvas in round two. De La Cruz landed a decent shot at the beginning of the third stanza but this only served to wake up Kyoguchi, who then let rip with blistering blows to both body and head and the end came soon after. The Watanabe youngster had thus captured his first belt and will be a threat to any of the 105lb champions in the near future.