Asian scene: Kubo toppled by Roman

Marcus Bellinger
22/09/2017 8:31pm

Marcus Bellinger rounds up the latest action from across Asia, including victories for Masayuki Ito and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and defeats for Shun Kubo and Eaktawan BTU Ruaviking ...

Super featherweight Masayuki Ito stayed busy with a sixth-round stoppage of Glenn Enterina at the Korakuen Hall on 2 September. Ito got off to a careless start and was caught by a solid right hand in the opening round and took another solid shot in round two.

The current OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion then settled down behind his boxing in round three before dropping the visitor with a beauty of a right hand in round 4. The Filipino actually fared pretty well in the fifth but Ito had his man going in the next round and this time he finished the job and is now not too far away from a deserved world title shot.

Click here to watch Ito vs Enterina

Shun Kubo was aiming to retain his regular super bantamweight bauble for the first time when he took on Daniel Roman at the Shimazu Arena in Kyoto on 3 September. Kubo started relatively well, using his extra height and reach to maintain distance over the first couple of rounds and landing some decent left hands in the process.

Having felt the power and seen what his opponent had to offer, Roman applied intelligent pressure over the next two rounds and the nature of the bout had certainly changed. Roman was having real success close up and Kubo was being forced backwards and was unable to come up with any solutions.

The American was now in full command and the Japanese southpaw was down in round seven and could have easily been stopped in that round. Spurred on by a supportive home crowd Kubo tried to turn things around but he was floored again in round eight and now had a huge mountain to climb. Roman could have boxed his way to a decision but he went for the stoppage and duly got it in round nine, capping off an excellent performance on the road.

Click here to watch Kubo vs Roman

Also on the card in Kyoto, Masayoshi Nakatani easily retained his OPBF lightweight belt for the eighth time by knocking out Ryan Sermona in four rounds. Sermona was down four times and a move up in class is now essential for Nakatani. Meanwhile, Reiya Konishi kept hold of his Japanese strawweight title for the first time by outpointing Shin Ono by scores of 97-92, 97-91 and 94-94 in a fight that was marred by head clashes and saw both men suffer cuts.

Juan Carlos Reveco booked his mandatory crack at IBF flyweight champion Donnie Nietes with a wide 12-round decision win over Eaktawan BTU Ruaviking in Argentina on 8 September. Eaktawan pressed the action from the off but his lack of speed proved to be the Thai’s undoing and Reveco picked his shots extremely well and boxed very smartly. Eaktawan never stopped trying but at the final bell there was no doubt about the winner and Reveco’s hand was raised with the judges' totals reading 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111.

A day later in Astana there was a really interesting card with a number of Kazakh talents on display, with unbeaten light middleweight Kanat Islam headlining against Brandon Cook. Islam dropped Cook in the first round and the Kazakh seemed intent on making a statement.

The Canadian showed insane toughness but was floored again in round five and simply didn’t have the punching power to keep Islam at bay. After being floored again in round eight, and having suffered much facial damage, Cook was finally saved by the referee in round nine. On the same card, Zhanibek Alimkhanuly absolutely dominated Gilberto Pereira dos Santos over six rounds and Ali Akhmedov and Meiirim Nursultanov recorded eighth and first-round KOs over Justin Thomas and Ismael Bueno respectively.

It was then on to the much anticipated SuperFly card from the StubHub Center in California. The main event saw Roman Gonzalez attempt to avenge his sole career defeat against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and take back the WBC crown from the Thai puncher.

The pair traded leather in a fast opening round with Srisaket intent on securing an emphatic victory this time out. Gonzalez landed some classy combinations in round two but the champion was never bothered and it was turning into his kind of fight. The inside battle continued in round three with Srisaket feeling right at home. Gonzalez was trying to keep up with the pace but a thunderous right hook dropped him in round four and despite the Nicaraguan’s best efforts to fight back another hook floored him again and this time the fight was over.

For Srisaket this was an outstanding performance, leaving no doubt this time about the outcome. Hopefully the Thai will now be given the credit he was so disgracefully denied last time out. Certainly, the 30-year-old is now enjoying superstar status in his homeland. As for Gonzalez if this is the last occasion we see him in a boxing ring then we should be thankful for everything he has achieved and done for the 'little men' of boxing in what has been a truly remarkable career.

WBO titlist Naoya Inoue made his US debut on this card and faced Antonio Nieves. The man known as ‘the Monster’ showed no nerves and peppered the challenger with a ramrod jab in the opening three minutes. Inoue then switched his attack to the body in round two with the 24-year-old wanting to show the American audience what he was all about. The body shots continued to rain in, as Inoue treated the midsection of Nieves like it was a drum kit.

By the end of round three the writing was on the wall for the challenger. To his credit Nieves made one last stand in round four with the champion happy to fight off the back foot for most of the stanza. The relentless bombardment to the body finally saw Nieves go down in round five and the American’s corner wisely pulled him out at the end of the sixth, giving Inoue the victory and capping a successful Stateside bow which will have gained him plenty of new admirers.

On 13 September there was a world title double header at the EDION Arena in Osaka with an all-Japanese tussle for the IBF super-bantamweight strap headlining proceedings as Yukinori Oguni defended against Ryosuke Iwasa. Oguni was quick out of the gate, using his speed to good effect but a left hand dropped him near the end of round one.

Oguni again boxed well to begin round two, but he simply couldn’t avoid the stinging southpaw lefts of Iwasa who scored two knockdowns in the round. Iwasa went hunting for the finish in round three, but the champion dug in despite beginning to show some facial damage. The challenger was docked a point in the fourth for pushing down on Oguni’s head and the pair engaged in a fabulous round of action with the momentum possibly turning.

Oguni’s work rate again kept him in the fifth but Iwasa’s extra fire power was proving to be the difference and always shifting things back his way. Iwasa unloaded with power shots in round six and with Oguni’s face now a bloody mess the doctor brought the contest to a halt and a new champion was crowned.

Iwasa can now no longer be seen as a 'nearly man' and with so many domestic bouts to be made he won't be short of options. As for Oguni, who hinted at retirement afterwards, a substantial rest is required and then hopefully he can get back in the mix.

The second world title clash saw WBO light flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka take on Palangpol CP Freshmart. In an otherwise quiet first round Tanaka was floored by a cracking right hand from the Thai. Tanaka rebounded well and had the advantages in speed and all round ability but the power of Palangpol saw the champion suffer a cut to his left eye.

Tanaka seemed to have Palangpol going in round five with a solid body attack but the challenger fought back in round six, damaging Tanaka’s right eye - the possibility of a huge upset was now on. However, Palangpol was unable to build on his success and Tanaka regained his composure over the next two rounds. At the start of the ninth a head shot put Palangpol on the canvas and a follow-up attack saw the referee jump in and stop the contest.

This was a much tougher fight than expected for Tanaka, who suffered double vision, nausea and orbital fractures to both eyes, thus resulting in his proposed end of year unification clash with Ryoichi Taguchi having to be shelved for now. Despite coming up short Palangpol massively enhanced his reputation and is now a player in a stacked 108lb division. Also on the Osaka card, Shingo Wake moved a step closer to a second world title crack with an eight-round knockout of Panomroomglek Kaiyanghadaogym.

Click here to watch Tanaka vs Palangpol

Milan Melindo had to call on all his resolve to narrowly retain his IBF light flyweight strap versus Hekkie Budler at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City on 16 September. The first four rounds saw both boxers jockeying for position, with Melindo looking to land hard counters whilst Budler was attempting to find his range and dart in and out.

Budler upped the pace in round five with the champion responding, as the bout began to catch fire. At the end of round six a head clash gave Melindo a bad cut to his left eye and a cut shortened contest seemed plausible. Budler, sensing his chance, enjoyed an excellent seventh round and with the cut seeming to be bothering Melindo the fight was now at a crucial stage.

The Filipino showed huge heart and took the next two rounds before suffering another cut, this time to his right eye, in round ten. Budler poured on the pressure in the 11th with Melindo continuing to battle away despite his vision being impaired due to the cuts. With the fight on the line going in to the 12th, Melindo dropped Budler early on and then the pair went to war in a thrilling final three minutes of pulsating action.

We then went to the scorecards and it was Melindo who got the split verdict with scores of 117-110, 115-112 and 113-115. Melindo will now be out of action for a while due to the cuts and a mandatory defence is almost certain to be up next.

Jonas Sultan stepped up in class big time to unanimously outpoint Johnriel Casimero and book his chance at IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas. Sultan was quick out of the blocks and moved and countered Casimero highly effectively. Sultan was in total command in the first half of the fight and was boxing superbly and showed no nerves in what without doubt was his toughest test to date.

Although far more experienced at world level Casimero was sluggish and ponderous and needed to change things up. The former 108 and 112lb world champion managed to find some success in rounds seven, eight and nine but it wasn’t to be and Sultan calmly navigated his way to the final bell and claimed the victory with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 to potentially set up the first all-Filipino world title clash since 1925.

Also in Cebu City, Jason Pagara clung on to earn a ten-round draw with James Onyango with cards of 95-93, 93-94 and 94-94, Arthur Villanueva stopped Richie Mepranum in four rounds and Kevin Jake Cataraja saw off Wilijan Ugbaniel in two.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Asian action, talented Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga goes for his first title when he takes on Samartlek Kokietgym for the vacant WBO International minimumweight belt on 29 September in Beijing. Barriga has only scored one KO in his six bouts so far but the 24-year-old possesses plenty of ability and in Samartlek he has an opponent who he should look good against.

The 32-year-old Thai has been found wanting when stepping up in class and was beaten inside the distance by Akira Yaegashi, Naoya Inoue and Denver Cuello. Also on this bill Indonesian flyweight Iwan Zoda squares off against undefeated Filipino Ronnie Baldanado for the interim WBO Oriental trinket. Zoda’s form has been mixed of late and the 20-year-old has had some injury issues so will be looking to get back on track against Baldanado.

Kal Yafai’s mandatory defense of his super flyweight bauble against Sho Ishida now has a date and a venue with the contest to take place in Cardiff on 28 October as part of the Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev undercard.

In a quite brilliant looking match-up, Tsubasa Koura defends his OPBF 105lb crown for the first time against Masataka Taniguchi at the Korakuen Hall on 11 November. Koura has looked a force to be reckoned with having crushed both Jaysever Abcede and Jeffrey Galero in four and two rounds respectively and the 22-year-old definitely has genuine power in his fists. Taniguchi lost a razor-thin verdict to Reiya Konishi in April for the national title and has rebounded with two straightforward wins since. The 23-year-old southpaw is a stablemate of IBF champion Hiroto Kyoguchi and will have quality sparring available to him in the Watanabe Gym.