Asian scene: Big win for Takahashi while Wanheng run continues
Marcus Bellinger rounds up the latest news from the vibrant Asian boxing scene including victories for Ryohei Takahashi, Wanheng Menayothin and Romero Duno...
Ryohei Takahashi scored the biggest win of his career by stopping previously unbeaten Kazuki Tanaka in three rounds at the Korakuen Hall on 26 May.
Tanaka won the first two rounds but two knockdowns in the third saw the end of the fight and the youngster will now have to rebuild.
Wanheng Menayothin was looking to extend his perfect record to 47-0 when he defended his WBC strawweight crown against Omari Kimweri at home on 3 June.
With the challenger's rough and tough style there was always the possibility of a technical decision and that looked even more likely when the champion was cut in the first round.
However, Wanheng’s corner did a good job with the cut and after being slightly unsettled by Kimweri’s pressure the Thai began to find his way into the contest by the end of round two. Wanheng then proceeded to dominate the next six rounds, landing his right hand at will as Kimweri’s energy tank rapidly emptied.
Knowing he was ahead on the cards with the open scoring, Wanheng coasted home to take the unanimous decision by score totals of 117-109 and 118-109 twice.
Romero Duno scored a second-round knockout of Jason Tinampay at the Robinson's Mall Atrium in General Santos City on 10 June. Body shots proved to be the order of the day with Tinampay on the floor four times before the bout was stopped. Duno will now head to the US where he’s expected back in the ring in either August or September. Also on this show super flyweight contender Aston Palicte stopped John Mark Apolinario in eight.
Unbeaten Yves Ulysse Jr claimed a wide ten-round unanimous decision victory over dangerous Filipino road warrior Ricky Sismundo in Montreal on 17 June with scores of 98-91 twice and 99-90.
After a nine-month ring absence John Riel Casimero scored a knockdown on his way to a six-round decision win over Jecker Buhawe on 25 June and is now targeting a world title at super flyweight.
Kenichi Ogawa defends his Japanese super featherweight crown against Hirotsugu Yamamoto at the Korakuen Hall on 1 July and the 29-year-old will be aiming for an improved display from his last ring appearance which saw him scrape a majority decision over Satoru Sugita in March.
There has been much talk about how to revive and rejuvenate boxing in the Philippines with an emphasis on trying to make intriguing all-Pinoy bouts which, for whatever reason, rarely occur.
At the Island City Mall in Tagdilaran City, Bohol on 7 July a fantastic looking light flyweight bout has been put together with Christian Araneta facing Jesse Espinas for the former’s WBO Oriental belt. The youngsters met back in September 2015 with Araneta scoring an eighth-round stoppage but both have improved since then.
Araneta easily swept aside Demsy Manufoe inside a round in March and the 22-year-old southpaw needs a test which he should get on 7 July.
Since the defeat to Araneta, Espinas has won five in a row including an impressive fifth-round stoppage of Joey Camoy and a terrific eighth-round knockout of then unbeaten Thai Paipharob Kokietgym on away turf.
Topping this bill is Jack Tepora, who takes on Emmanuel Dominguez with the Filipino defending his WBO Oriental super bantamweight bauble. Tepora blew out Yon Armed in a round in March and the 24-year-old needs sterner opposition than the Indonesian. At least on paper Dominguez should provide a decent test and the Mexican has a fourth-round stoppage win over former bantamweight contender Alejandro Hernandez on his record.
A day later ALA will present their latest offering from the IEC Convention Center in Cebu City with unbeaten featherweight Mark Magsayo headlining against experienced operator Daniel Diaz. Magsayo swatted aside Issa Nampepeche in a round in April and the 22-year-old has stated his desire for the big fights, however, his handlers are in no rush to move him too quickly.
The 33-year-old Nicaraguan has mixed in good company having beaten Roberto Marroquin and gone the distance with Kamil Laszczyk, Jerry Belmontes and Hugo Cazares. His only inside the distance losses came against Andres Gutierrez and Koki Kameda.
The rest of the card sees Jeo Santisima take on Goodluck Mrema, Melvin Jerusalem up against Joey Camoyand and Albert Pagara face Waldo Sabu - all three bouts being scheduled for ten rounds.
After a triumphant return to Japan in March, which saw him widely outpoint Mike Tawatchai over ten rounds, Tomoki Kameda returns on 10 July at the Korakuen Hall against Ivan Morales. British fans will probably remember the Mexican being defeated by Lee Haskins in May 2015 via a wide unanimous decision for Haskins' IBF bantamweight title.
The undercard of the 10 July cruiserweight title clash between Denis Lebedev and Mark Flanagan, to be held at the Divs Arena in Ekaterinburg, has a strong Japanese feel with former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko up against unbeaten Pavel Malikov in the most notable contest. Also featuring is big punching welterweight Qudratillo Abduqaxorov, who squares off against Dmitry Mikhaylenko for the Uzbek’s WBC Silver trinket.
The mandatory 105lb bout between Knockout CP Freshmart and Rey Loreto will take place in Chonburi Thailand on 15 July.
Shingo Wake makes his ring return at the Korakuen Hall on 19 July when he takes on Nikihito Seto and Hidenori Otake defends his OPBF 122lb strap against Kinshiro Usui on the same card. More interestingly the winner of the Otake Usui fight will face the prodigiously talented Hinata Maruta at the Korakuen Hall on 13 October.
Four days later at the Ota-City General Gymnasium, Watanabe presents a world title doubleheader with Ryoichi Taguchi making a mandatory defence of his light flyweight strap against Robert Barrera. The Colombian is a bit of an unknown quantity with the 24-year-old’s best win being a ninth-round knockout over Luis de la Rosa in January, while he lost a split decision to former Taguchi foe Carlos Canizales in October 2015.
Taguchi needs not only a victory but an assured display to maintain interest in a unification with Kosei Tanaka, which is likely to materialise if he is victorious against Barrera.
The other world title bout on the card sees exciting youngster Hiroto Kyoguchi challenge IBF strawweight champion Jose Argumedo. Since dethroning Katsunari Takayama on the last day of 2015 Argumedo has made three successful defences and has been in good recent form.
The 28-year-old outpointed Julio Mendoza and stopped both Jose Antonio Jimenez and Gabriel Mendoza. Kyoguchi crushed all his first six opponents inside the distance - including a third-round stoppage of Armando de la Cruz in February to capture the vacant OPBF minimumweight belt.
Just two months later, the 23-year-old was given some much-needed rounds as he won a wide decision over 12 versus Jonathan Refugio. Kohei Kono also makes his ring return on the show while Ryuichi Funai defends his Japanese super flyweight title against Takayuki Okumoto.
Exciting and hard-hitting Yusaku Kuga makes the first defence of his Japanese super bantamweight crown versus Ryoichi Tamura at the Korakuen Hall on 29 July. It was thought that there would be a third instalment between Kuga and Yasutaka Ishimoto but Tamura has been given the opportunity instead. Incidentally Ishimoto fights on 18 July against an opponent still to be determined.
In what should be a real tear-up, OPBF bantamweight champion Mark John Yap defends his title against former Japanese 118lb champion Kentaro Masuda at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center on 30 July. Neither man has a glossy record but both can fight and are always in exciting contests.
In what could be a real shootout WBC bantamweight ruler Shinsuke Yamanaka squares off against mandatory challenger Luis Nery at the Shimazu Arena in Kyoto on 15 August. Yamanaka will be aiming to make defence number 13 and equal the Japanese record set by Yoko Gushiken.
Nery has recorded impressive stoppages over Raymond Tabugon, Richie Mepranum, David Sanchez and John Mark Apolinario but the 22-year-old can make mistakes and be reckless at times and he’ll need to be defensively tight against the big-hitting Japanese southpaw.
On 26 August at the Stub Hub Center, Los Angeles Yoshihiro Kamegai has the biggest fight of his career against Miguel Cotto with the vacant WBO light middleweight strap being on the line.
Wednesday 30 August finally sees the comeback of Takuma Inoue, who will face Hiroyuki Hisitaka at the Korakuen Hall. The younger Inoue sibling was due to take on then WBO bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales last December but a bad hand injury saw that bout cancelled and the 21-year-old is only now ready to resume his career.
Hisitaka brings a wealth of experience having shared the ring with the likes of Omar Narvaez, Hugo Cazares, Suguru Muranaka and Mark John Yap amongst others and the 32-year-old always brings the fight to his opponents, so should prove a solid test for Inoue. Also slated to feature on this Ohashi card are Ryo Matsumoto, Satoshi Shimizu and Koki Inoue.
The following month, on 9 September, there is a sizzling night of super flyweight action taking place at a venue still to be determined in the US with the rematch between Roman Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai headlining proceedings.
In a cracking card, Juan Francisco Estrada also faces Carlos Cuadras and Naoya Inoue makes his hotly anticipated US debut versus Antonio Nieves. Both Gonzalez and Inoue have stated a strong appetite to face each other with the Japanese starlet keen for it to occur in the very near future as he has his eyes on a move up to bantamweight. Nieves lost a split decision over ten rounds to Nikolai Potapov in March, with this being the only significant name of the 30-year-old’s resume.
In a mandated contest 115lb titlist Kal Yafai has been ordered to face Japan’s Sho Ishida. Ishida is unbeaten in 24 outings with 13 wins inside the distance and is part of the successful Ioka Gym.
The 25-year-old is tall for a super flyweight and possesses an excellent jab but has had some stamina issues in the later rounds. He is a former national champion who made five successful defences and he also has a second round KO win over former Naoya Inoue opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym and an eight-round decision over recent flyweight world title challenger Eaktawan BTU Ruaviking.