Asian scene: Nietes edges Ioka
A close victory for Donnie Nietes was one of the main events in the Asian boxing scene last month. Marcus Bellinger is back with a bumper New Year round-up...
The final bout of significance in November saw Knockout CP Freshmart retain his 105lbs belt in a second 12-round snore fest against Byron Rojas in Thailand. The challenger began brightly, working at a high tempo in the opening three minutes. However, the champion dug in some body shots in round two and round three which hurt Rojas and halted his momentum.
Sadly the fight took a dramatic downturn from then on with so much holding, wrestling and spoiling making it a turgid watch. At the final bell Knockout took the unanimous decision with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 but the Thai’s stock has considerably dropped in 2018 due to some horror bouts and Rojas was understandably frustrated and annoyed at the tactics used by his opponent.
There was plenty of action on the opening day of December as Yukinori Oguni made his ring return against Indonesian Arega Yunian. Oguni looked incredibly rusty over the first two rounds, struggling to find his timing and range.
The former IBF super-bantamweight titlist began to find his groove in round three and body shots proved to be the visitors undoing as he was dropped several times in the next round. Let’s now hope we can see Oguni in with the many solid fighters at 122lbs in some domestic clashes.
Over at the EDION Arena in Osaka, Reiya Konishi overcame Richard Rosales to retain his WBO Asia Pacific light-flyweight belt. Konishi pressured the Filipino from the off and things became rather messy with both men deducted points. The challenger visibly began to wilt and he was saved by his corner in round eight, bringing a halt to what had been a frustrating outing for Konishi.
Masao Nakamura claimed the WBO Asia Pacific super-featherweight bauble, eventually overcoming Carlo Magali. As expected it wasn’t long before we had a battle at close quarters with both men landing hard shots which made each of them respect the other's power.
A bad cut suffered by Magali proved to be the deciding factor and the referee stopped the contest in round ten. As the cut was caused by a punch, Nakamura was declared the winner via TKO.
Over at the Staples Center, it was heartbreak for Mark Anthony Barriga as he lost a 12 round split decision to Carlos Licona for the vacant IBF strawweight title. After a quiet opening round Licona used his extra height and reach to good effect, making Barriga fall short with his punches in the middleweight. The Filipino came into his own in the second half of the fight, darting in and out with flashy combinations. The 12th was his best round and he landed his southpaw left regularly. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as Licona got the verdict with two cards of 115-113 overruling the other tally of 115-113 to Barriga.
Satoshi Shimizu proved far too powerful for Takuya Uehara, stopping him in three rounds and retaining his OPBF featherweight strap in the process on 3 December. Uehara tried to establish his jab but the champion ploughed right through him scoring three knockdowns in round two. A fourth trip to the canvas for Uehara saw the fight come to an end in the next stanza.
In what looked a cracking bout on paper Hinata Maruta stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in five rounds. Tameda, on paper at least, was the bigger man and the bigger puncher but Maruta used his range to great effect, nullifying Tameda’s best attributes. A straight right hand dropped Tameda in round five giving Maruta a much needed win. Featherweight seems to be the correct division for the much hyped youngster.
Three bouts of significance took place at the EDION Arena in Osaka, on 9 December with Masayoshi Nakatani versus Hurricane Futa headlining proceedings. Nakatani quickly established his long rangy jab and nullified Futa’s attempts to crowd him. The visitor continued to try and close the distance but began to eat uppercuts for his trouble and Futa’s face began to show visible damage. Round four saw the doctor bring the contest to a halt with Nakatani successfully retaining the OPBF lightweight title for the 11th time. 2019 really needs to be the year we see Nakatani in at least a world title eliminator but whether it happens is a different story.
In an important crossroads bout Shohei Omori stopped Takahiro Yamamoto in three rounds. Omori was far too sharp for Yamamoto and in round three a right hook was the start of the end and it seems sparring with Naoya Inoue has proved fruitful for the Japanese southpaw.
Sho Ishida eventually defeated Warlito Parrenas over eight rounds but was given a tougher test than expected. Ishida had the Filipino down twice in round two and went for the early finish but Parrenas dug in and remained competitive throughout. Parrenas managed to cut Ishida did give him a bloody nose but it wasn’t enough as the man from Japan prevailed via scores of 78-74, 78-73 and 78-72.
Japanese lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino finished 2018 in style as he staved off the challenge of Kazumasa Kobayashi at the Korakuen Hall on 13 December. Yoshino was in charge from the off and an increase in the tempo had the challenger in bother by the end of round two. A booming right hand from Yoshino part way through round three ended the contest and it will be interesting to see if and when he can make the step up to at least regional level in 2019.
A day later in Canada, Sadriddin Akhmedov needed just 82 seconds to vanquish Eliud Melendez Rocha to score his sixth straight stoppage. A 26 January bout for a minor middleweight trinket now looks to be in the offing for the explosive young Kazakh.
Masayuki Ito easily saw off mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov to retain his WBO super featherweight title at the Ota-City Gymnasium in Tokyo on 30 December. The champion dominated throughout, with Chuprakov resorting to some rather bizarre holding and wrestling tactics.
Ito punished the Russian repeatedly when he managed to free himself from the clinches and at the halfway points it looked a hopeless task for the visitor. After another sustained attack in round seven, Chuprakov’s corner wisely jumped into save their man and Ito can move onto bigger and better things in 2019.
You can view Ito vs Chuprakov here
Takuma Inoue earned a crack at the WBC bantamweight title with a 12-round unanimous points victory over rugged Thai Petch Sor Chitpattana. Inoue looked a million dollars over the first few rounds, beating Petch to the punch consistently and making him looked slow and one-dimensional.
In round 5 Petch managed to find some success as Inoue’s feet slowed down and the visitor continued to come forward and apply pressure. Inoue got back to boxing and hurt Petch in rounds nine and ten but had to settle for a win on the cards with all three reading 117-111.
Ken Shiro finished off 2018 in good fashion as he defeated Saul Juarez via wide unanimous decision to retain his WBC light flyweight crown for the fifth time. The champion used his fantastic jab to control proceedings and landed multiple combinations throughout. Juarez proved to be a bit of a pest and, despite his best efforts, Shiro failed to get the stoppage and at the final bell the score totals were 120-108 and 119-109 twice.
A day later in Macao, Donnie Nietes prevailed via disputed split decision over Kazuto Ioka in a compelling 12 rounder to claim the vacant WBO super-flyweight bauble. The pair exchanged jabs in the opening stanza with a couple of body shots from Ioka the small difference. The Filipino then used the uppercut to great effect in the next three rounds and he also got the better of the exchanges on the inside.
Knowing he needed to change tactics, Ioka began to fight at range and control the distance and the Osakan dominated the middle portion of the contest. Needing a big finish Nietes turned up the heat and drew Ioka into some fabulous tussles and close quarters and the bout was up for grabs at the final bell.
Scores on social media were all over the place so a split verdict was expected and totals of 116-112 to either man were understandable however, a tally of 118-110 Nietes was farcical and spoilt what had been a brilliant way to end 2018. Nevertheless, huge credit should be given to both men for putting on a terrific exhibition of top-class boxing.
If you missed it then I’d strongly advise watching Nietes vs Ioka by clicking here
The criminally underrated Moruti Mthalane retained his IBF flyweight belt as he broke down Masahiro Sakamoto. Mthalane had no issue landing sharp crisp combinations from the off and he looked in excellent rhythm. The effort of the challenger couldn’t be questioned but as the rounds ticked by the snap quickly came off his punches and after 6 rounds Sakamoto had facial damaged and a swollen right eye. As the right eye rapidly began to shut that made Mthalane’s task to find the target even easier and after 10 rounds the man from Japan was pulled out and now the South African must overcome mandatory challenger Masayuki Kuroda.
Hiroto Kyoguchi made a real statement as he became the first man to stop light flyweight titlist Hekkie Budler. Kyoguchi targeted the body straight away but only through single shots which allowed Budler to counter effectively in the first three rounds.
Kyoguchi had more success as the bout progressed and the shots to the midsection were having a visible impact on the South African. As we passed the midpoint the Kyoguchi train had now well and truly left the station and Budler was now struggling to stay afloat.
Kyoguchi shook his man in round nine and the pounding continued into round ten, with Budler pulled out at the end of the round, meaning the young Japanese dynamo is now a two-weight world champion.
In early 2019 there is lots of Asian action in store. On 19 January Shingo Wake takes on Takafumi Nakajima at the Korakuen Hall with an intriguing support bout between Riya Abe, who has a Japanese featherweight title shot lined up, and 4-0 touted prospect Daisuke Sujita. Abe’s crack at the national crown is said not to be at risk but it seems an odd fight to accept given the circumstances.
Originally scheduled for December, a WBO 105lbs eliminator between Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez and Filipino Robert Paradero will now take place in Puerto Rico on 25 January with visa issues for the visitor being the cause of the delay.
Unbeaten Japanese light middleweight Takeshi Inoue will take on WBO belt holder Jaime Munguia in Texas on 26 January. The challenger, no relation of Naoya, Takuma and Koki Inoue has had success at the domestic and regional level but facing the hard-hitting Mexican champion presents a significant step up in class. Inoue had been looking to line up an IBF eliminator with America’s Julian Williams but that contest fell by the wayside.
In California on 31 January Aston Palicte and Jose Martinez vie for the right to face newly crowned WBO 115lbs champion Donnie Nietes.
After claiming the IBF super featherweight title with a highly disputed decision over Tevin Farmer in December 2017, Kenichi Ogawa failed a drugs test and was banned for a year by the Japan Boxing Commission. With that suspension now over Ogawa will make his ring return against Filipino Roldan Aldea at the Korakuen Hall on 2 February.
Also on this show Junto Nakatani and Naoki Mochizuki square off for the vacant Japanese flyweight crown, with Masayuki Kuroda vacating with a shot at the IBF title likely for him.
John Riel Casimero takes on Kenya Yamashita in Quezon City on 17 February while 29 March sees Michael Dasmarinas and Kenny Demecillo face off in an IBF bantamweight eliminator.
Finally the other two highlights from the Champions Carnival will come on 6 April when Koki Inoue challenges Japanese light-welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa and five days later when Shuichiro Yoshino defends his national lightweight belt against Accel Sumiyoshi.