The world of boxing is an exciting place when announcements are made and bouts take place. This past week has shown that with some great bouts and some really exciting news being announced.
The first major news announcement for the week regarding the Asian scene is that terms have been reached for a rematch between WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) and Japan’s once beaten Shohei Omori (18-1, 13). The two men met in a world title eliminator in late 2015, where Tapales dominated Omori with repeated knockdowns to force a 2nd round victory, and then went on to win the title in a gutsy display against Punglung Sor Singyu last year. Since his loss Omori has won 3 bouts in a row and will be looking to avenge his sole defeat.
The Tapales Vs Omori rematch will take place on April 23rd at the EDION Arena Osaka and although yet to be confirmed it’s rumoured that the card will also see Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) defending his WBA Flyweight title against Noknoi Sitthiprasert (61-4, 27), who has won his last 60 bouts!
A second announcement from Japan is that Muto gym will be holding their next card on April 9th, also in Osaka. The card, dubbed “You Will Be the Champion 7” will feature a trio of notable names from the Osakan gym. Those include OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (25-12, 11), in a non title bout, former OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-11-5, 9) and the once beaten Masahiro Sakamoto (8-1, 4), who all attended the press conference to announce the show.
Of course the biggest announcement of the week came from Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38) and Amir Khan (31-4,19), who appear to have agreed a deal to fight on April 23rd in a yet to be announced venue. The bout, which is “for the fans” apparently, is set to net both men a substantial pay day and sees Khan making his ring return following last year’s 6th round KO loss to Canelo. Aged 38 Pacquiao might be past his best but few will bet against here.
The week also saw a number of retirements from Japanese fighters. The most notable of those retirements was from former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Akifumi Shimoda (31-6-2, 14), who announced that he was retiring on his own blog. The popular Teiken fighter is best known for being the recipient of two KO of the Year contenders, against Rico Ramos in 2011and against Marvin Sonsona in 2014. Although retiring Shimoda following set backs at domestic level to Satoshi Hosono and Shota Hayashi it’s fair to say Shimoda had a solid career with title victories at Japanese, Oriental and world level.
Also retiring were former OPBF Bantamweight champion Hiroki Shiino (11-4, 10) and Yuki Yukumoto (17-11, 5), who challenged both at Oriental and domestic level. These two will both take part in a special event at the Korakuen Hall on April 21st.
There was two different pieces of “other” news this week, both of which have a rather depressing tone.
Firstly was the news that former 3-time world champion champion Elly Pical was in hospital. The Indonesian, who held the IBF Super Flyweight title on 3 separate occassions, was rushed to hospital last week and began receiving treatment for a heart issue. Although a relative unknown among today’s Western boxing fans Pical is an historic fighter, having been the first Indonesian to win a world title and he’s still popular among his compatriots.
The other bit of depressing news is that former WBC Super Flyweight champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (48-7-1, 24) has had an “adverse” test result whilst under-going VADA testing. The fighter appears to have tested positive for methamphetamine whilst part of the WBC Clean Boxing Program and will likely be removed from the WBC rankings, if not given a ban. The frustrating thing for his fans is that he was ranked #1 at Bantamweight before having this drugs test, likely setting his career back significantly. Although it’s unclear what he was doing to have the banned substance in his body it does seem likely that he had taken Ya Ba, which has long been a major problem in Thailand.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)