Asian scene: Wanheng matches Mayweather mark
Marcus Bellinger's definitive monthly round-up of action involving Asian fighters is headlined for May by Wanheng Menayothin, who demolished Leroy Estrada to move to 50-0...
Despite the importance of the contest and more than the usual media attention, Wanheng Menayothin showed no signs of feeling any extra pressure as he thrashed mandatory challenger Leroy Estrada in Nakhon Ratchasima on 2 May to take his professional record to 50-0.
The visitor made a confident enough start in the opening round, using his speed and a decent jab whilst the champion was happy enough to survey his opponent. That was as good as it got for the Panamanian who was rocked twice in round two as Wanheng turned up the heat.
Estrada was floored twice in round three and was lucky to survive the three minutes as the right hand of Wanheng proved to be a lethal weapon. Two more knockdowns occurred in round four and really Estrada should have been prevented from continuing by the referee or his corner but he was sent out for round five. A fifth knockdown finally finished the job and Wanheng had retained his WBC strawweight belt in some style.
With the win, the Thai equals the 50-0 record of Floyd Mayweather Jr and his feat received plenty of coverage from those who don’t normally cover his fights. It will be interesting to see who he fights next, with a plentiful supply of young talented contenders at 105lbs.
In a saga resembling a soap opera, Koki Kameda took on former longtime flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam at the Korakuen Hall on 5 May. The bout was originally meant to be Kameda’s last fight but with Pongsaklek having been absent from the ring for more than three years getting a licence from the Japan Boxing Commission was always going to be problematic.
The Thai great managed to squeeze in a comeback bout earlier this year but the JBC still rejected his licence application so the contest went ahead as an exhibition fought over six rounds at bantamweight. Kameda prevailed via second-round stoppage and afterwards he called out Roman Gonzalez - although this prospective contest has already been shot down by Teiken Promotions.
One professional bout of note on the card saw Tomoki Kameda pound out a wide ten-round points victory over Daniel Noriega. The Mexican was down in rounds two and five and did just about enough to prevent the referee from stopping proceedings. In the end Kameda had to settle for a win on the scorecards, with all three judges having it 100-88. The youngest of the Koki brothers is now in search of a world title tilt at super bantamweight.
On the same day over in Tashkent, Uzbekistan Azizbek Abdugofurov scored the biggest win of his career by out pointing Dmitrii Chudinov over 12 rounds to capture the WBC Silver bauble at super middleweight. The judges' tallies were 118-110 twice and 118-111.
With the likes of Ken Shiro, Daigo Higa and Kosei Tanaka now firmly established on the world scene the next wave of Japanese youngsters are already beginning to surface. One of them who is catching the eye is flyweight prospect Ryota Yamauchi, who stopped Yota Hori in five rounds at the Korakuen Hall on 7 May to take his record to 3-0 with 3 KOs. Hori attempted to take it to Yamauchi and in the first 3 rounds he had some success. However Yamauchi upped the pace and dropped Hori with a big right hand in round four. Hori was still feeling the effects of the knockdown and his corner threw in the towel in round five.
With the victory the 23-year-old gains a Japanese ranking having already claimed a rating with the OPBF after a fourth-round stoppage of former Ken Shiro foe and OPBF challenger Lester Abutan last December.
On the same bill light-welterweight contender Hiroki Okada scored an opening round KO of Ciso Morales and with a rumoured World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at 140lbs soon taking place the 28-year-old may very well be in the frame for a spot.
Uzbek Fazliddin Gaibnazarov notched up his fourth professional victory, stopping Jesus Silveira in four rounds on the undercard of the brilliant lightweight clash between Vasyl Lomachenko and Jorge Linares at Madison Square Garden on 12 May.
Mark Anthony Barriga cruised through his IBF minimumweight eliminator in Quezon City on 13 May, earning a wide points victory over Gabriel Mendoza. From the opening moments it was clear that the Filipino had a huge edge in speed and boxing acumen which he used effectively throughout the contest. Mendoza needed to let his hands go more frequently but had become reluctant due to being countered so often by Barriga.
At times there were passages where very little of note was happening but when Barriga went on the attack like in round seven, for example, the 24-year-old southpaw showed his class. Barriga continued to do as he pleased until the final bell and claimed the unanimous verdict with scores of 120-108 twice and 119-109.
On the same bill in the Philippines, featherweight Genesis Servania knocked out Jason Butar Butar in five rounds.
At the Korakuen Hall on 15 May, Rikki Naito just about clung on to his OPBF light welterweight belt as opponent Jheritz Chavez gave him a real scare. Naito was well in front after eight rounds but as the man from Japan began to slow down Chavez was able to find the target and the Filipino dropped the champion in rounds 11 and 12 to make things really interesting. It proved to be too little too late for the challenger though, with Naito retaining via majority decision with scores of 114-112 twice and 113-113.
Romero Duno impressed in his headline ten-rounder against sturdy Gilberto Gonzalez at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio California on 17 May. After a fairly quiet opening stanza Duno upped the tempo in round two with Gonzalez not being shy of a toe-to-toe battle. Round four saw some entertaining exchanges before both men went to war in round six as the momentum went this way, then that in three minutes of thrilling action.
Unsurprisingly the pace slowed in round seven before Duno found another gear. He seemed to hurt Gonzalez in the final round but the Mexican regained his senses and saw it through to the final bell. The judges' totals read 97-93 twice and 98-92 all in favour of Duno who is making great strides with every fight.
Jason Moloney may have booked his spot in the bantamweight World Boxing Super Series as he scored a seventh-round stoppage over Kohei Kono in Australia on 19 May. Kono was his usual aggressive self with Moloney happy to box in the early going. Kono was floored from a jab in round three and a bad cut in round four left the Japanese veteran in a precarious position. The contest was brought to a halt at the start of round seven and due to the cut being a result of a punch Moloney took the TKO victory. Meanwhile, at 37 Kono’s career surely must be at an end.
One weight down, Jason's brother Andrew claimed a wide ten-round points win over Filipino Richard Claveras. Moloney was in control for much of the bout and although Claveras had his moments, including a knockdown in round seven, the Australian navigated his way through the rest of the contest and prevailed via scores of 99-91 and 98-91 twice.
Hekkie Budler produced a career best display to beat Ryoichi Taguchi in their world light flyweight title bout at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo on 20 May. Budler was quick out of the traps and used his lack of height to his advantage as he darted in and out and gave the champion angles which confused him. Budler shook Taguchi and gave him a bloody nose in round four and by the halfway mark he had a handy lead.
As the tempo slowed, Taguchi came into things more and more and round nine was a big one for the home man and Budler now had some damage to his nose. Taguchi just about did enough to take the next two rounds but needed a big finish in the final three minutes if he were to retain his titles.
Taguchi hurt the challenger and dropped him early on in the final stanza, although the referee called it a slip. Budler was on the receiving end of a furious assault up until the finish but managed to survive as we went to the cards. On review the referee's call of the knockdown was overruled but that didn’t deny the South African a fantastic result, with the judges' tallies all coming in at 114-113 in his favour.
Hiroto Kyoguchi retained his IBF strawweight strap for the second time but was given a thorough examination by teenager Vince Paras. Kyoguchi was down from a Paras left hook in round three and the champion was in a position that he hadn’t been before. The champion coped well with the situation and turned things around for the rest of the fight. Although Paras was game Kyoguchi ran out the winner with all three cards reading 117-110. Up next for Kyoguchi looks to be a mandatory defence against slick operator Mark Anthony Barriga whilst Paras can certainly come again - the Filipino youngster certainly showed plenty of potential.
Also on the Watanabe card from Tokyo, Nihito Arakawa was forced to settle for a draw in his WBO Asia Pacific lightweight clash with Rimar Metuda with scorecards of 116-112 to Arakawa and 114-114 twice.
If there were any doubters of Naoya Inoue then they were surely silenced on 25 May as he obliterated Jamie McDonnell inside a round at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo. A left hook on the top of the head visibly shook McDonnell early on and there was no way back for the Englishman who was dropped with a body shot.
To his credit the visitor climbed back to his feet but he was soon down again and it was all over in less than two minutes. Inoue now moves into the WBSS bantamweight tournament having made a real statement. It will take a brave person to bet against the 25-year-old. McDonnell unsurprisingly will move up in weight, having badly struggled on the scales.
The other part of this doubleheader from Tokyo saw Ken Shiro leave no doubt in his rematch with Ganigan Lopez. The opening stanza was a tight three minutes with not much of note landed as both men looked to establish their jabs. Shiro picked up the pace in round two and a pinpoint right hand to the torso put the Mexican down for the full ten, giving the WBC 108lbs champion his third successful defence and an impressive KO victory over a proven world class operator. It’s clear he is getting better and better with each fight.
The next day, the Save Mart Center in Fresno California saw the first all-Filipino world-title scrap in 93 years. Sadly, the contest turned out to be utterly forgettable as Jerwin Ancajas cruised to a wide unanimous decision over Jonas Sultan. Ancajas used his southpaw jab to great effect, completely nullifying any attacks from Sultan, who simply couldn’t get anything going offensively.
The champion was too quick, accurate and sharp for the challenger who only had minor success with the right hand in the second half of the bout. In the last few rounds, as Ancajas relaxed, Sultan may have pinched a couple of the rounds but at the final bell there was no doubting the winner with Ancajas retaining his IBF super flyweight crown for the fifth time via scores of 119-109 twice and 117-111.
The final two results of note from 26 May saw Tugstsogt Nyambayar destroy Oscar Escandon in three rounds in Mississippi and Sadriddin Akhmedov take out Ariel Alejandro Zanpedri in a round in Quebec, with the Kazakh youngster already pencilled in for a 16 June return.
On 9 June at the Maasin City Sports Complex, ALA will present the 44th edition of their 'Pinoy Pride' series with Jeo Santisima headlining versus Likit Chane for the WBO Oriental super bantamweight crown. Albert Pagara continues his rebuild against Laryea Gabriel Oboi for the WBO intercontinental strap at 122lbs while Melvin Jerusalem takes on Philip Luis Cuerdo over ten rounds. Also Arthur Villanueva will square off against Renren Tesorio and Jason Pagara will face Go Hosaka with both contests scheduled for ten rounds.
In an interesting looking match-up, Warlito Parrenas goes up against Ryuichi Funai for the WBO Asia Pacific super-flyweight title at the Korakuen Hall on 14June.
On 20 June at the Korakuen Hall, Carlo Magali will travel to defend his OPBF super-featherweight belt against 5-0 prospect Hirinori Mishiro. Fan-friendly flyweight Katsunori Nagamine is also set to feature with no opponent confirmed at time of writing.
The vacant WBC bantamweight strap will be contested in Paris on 23 June as unbeaten pairing Petch Sor Chitpattana and Nordine Oubaali face off. Despite an unblemished record of 46-0, Petch is massively stepping up in class against the Frenchman and the 24-year-old Thai hasn't been in the ring with a great level of opposition. Oubaali was a 2008 and 2012 Olympian and the 31-year-old has already picked up the French title and inside the distance wins over Julio Cesar Miranda, Alejandro Hernandez and Mark Anthony Geraldo in his 14-fight pro career.
Ryuya Yamanaka makes the second defence of his WBO strawweight belt at the Central Gym in Kobe against Vic Saludar on 13 July. Yamanaka produced his best performance last time out as he forced Moises Calleros to retire after eight one-sided rounds in March. Saludar fought for the same title back on the last day of 2015, eventually being stopped in six by Kosei Tanaka after dropping the then champion early on. Since then the 27-year-old Filipino has won six out of seven bouts with a surprise points loss to Toto Landero being his only defeat.
Also appearing on the Kobe card, Reiya will look to claim the WBO Asia Pacific light flyweight crown as he goes up against Orlie Silvestre. Konishi lost a disputed decision to Carlos Canizales in March but showed he could compete at that level and will be aiming to put himself back in contention for a world title crack. Silvestre is taking a notable step up in class as the only recognisable name on the Filipino’s record is Jaysever Abcede, who beat him on points.
It’s now been officially confirmed that Yusaku Kuga and Shingo Wake will clash at the Korakuen Hall on 27 July in a contest which is being seen as a world-title eliminator. Wake has won four straight since his 11th-round defeat to Jonathan Guzman for the vacant IBF super-bantamweight crown back in July 2016. The 30-year-old southpaw knows a win over Kuga will move him towards a second world title tilt. On the other hand, after two successful Japanese title defences a win over Wake will propel Kuga on to the world stage and the 27-year-old would be in a crowded mix at 122lbs. There’s a cracking contest on the undercard for the Japanese Youth title at 105lbs with 4-0 Kai Ishizawa taking on 12-0 Daiki Tomita.
The old saying of waiting ages for a bus then two or three coming along at once is certainly true with all-Filipino world title tussles as hot on the heels of the Ancajas vs Sultan clash, Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte will vie for the vacant WBO super flyweight trinket in Cebu City on 18 August. Nietes is by far the more experienced and well known of the two and the 36-year-old is aiming to clinch a world title in his fourth weight class. Palicte is the younger man by nine years and is the more natural super flyweight, he also has solid wins over Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Oscar Cantu and Vergilio Silvana.