The Asian scene has been rather quiet this past week or so, though there has been enough action to talk about, including a a major upset, a show case win, mid-week title bouts and a little bit of history being created.
The aforementioned upset came on Wednesday in Texas as Vietnamese-American Dat Nguyen (20-3, 7) shocked the highly fancied Miguel Flores (21-1, 9), stopping him in round 6. Although an 8/1 under-dog Nguyen looked like a hungry fighter who was determined to make a statement here and managed to grind down the more skilled, but less battle tested, Flores. Flores started well using his speed but got dragged into a dog fight which suited the tougher and heavier haned Nguyen.
On Thursday attention turned to Thailand, with Thairath showing a small card with an international feel. Sadly for the international fighters, from Japan and Indonesian, the results weren’t good. The first bout saw Yuta Maruoka (12-4, 6) being stopped inside a round by the unbeaten Downua Ruawaiking (6-0, 4), who claimed the IBF Pan Pacific Light Welterweight title. Indonesian Zun Rindam (14-9-1, 6) faired only slightly better as he lasted until round 3 before being stopped by Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (16-6, 11), who secured the the IBF Pan Pacific Bantamweight title with his win.
Action on Friday also came from Thailand and saw a local picking up a win, with Petchmanee Kokietgym (17-0, 10) successfully defending his PABA title with his second win against Indonesian challenger Ellias Nggenggo (10-11-3, 3). These two men fought last year, with Petchmanee scoring a 7th round win, and although Nggenggo did better this time, lasting into round 8, the bout felt very meaningless. Interestingly Thai’s have linked Petchmanee to a world title fight, though he doesn’t quite look ready for such an opportunity.
Also on Friday was saw action in Russia from Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Light Heavyweight contender Dmitry Bivol (9-0, 7). Bivol, regarded as one of the best young fighters in the sport, scored the first defense of his WBA “interim” Light Heavyweight title as he stopped the game but over-matched Robert Berridge (29-6-1, 21) in 4 rounds. Berridge, from New Zealand, had come to fight but was punished for landing a solid right hand as it seemed to kick start Bivol who dropped him several times and left him with a huge cut that forced a medical, mercy, stoppage.
It’s fair to say that this past Saturday had one of the most memorable and fun to watch PBC shows with Fox broadcasting much of the card. Following the Fox broadcast the fans got more action on Fox Sports 1 with Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar (8-0, 8) shining against Filipino Jhon Gemino (15-8-1, 7). Gemino, who like many Filipino holds a misleading record, wasn’t respectful of the World Amateur and Olympic silver medal winner and looked to take the fight to the Mongolian but was punished, being dropped 4 times before the referee eventually saved him in round 10. The critical will look at the result and question Nyambayar’s potential but those who watched the bout will have seen the talented Mongolian fight in third gear for the most part, trying new things and getting some rounds before turning up the heat and stopping the bout in impressive fashion.
The weekend closed out with a card in Kumamoto, Japan. The card was headlined by local star Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-4-6, 7), a former Japanese national champion, who claimed the biggest win of his career and won the WBO “interim” Minimumweight title with a split decision over Mexican warrior Moises Calleros (25-7-1, 14). Although unknown outside of Japan Fukuhara has become a true testament to how a fighter can improve and grow. Back in December 2013 he was beaten by a debutant, and by the summer of 2014 he was 12-4-4 (3). Since then he has claimed a Japanese title, scored wins over touted domestic foes like Takumi Sakae and Genki Hanai and now claimed the WBO “interim” title setting up a summer clash with Katsunari Takayama. A win over Takayama would further strengthen a claim that Fukuhara is the most improved boxer of the last 4 years. Although Calleros came up short there should be more opportunities for such an exciting and aggressive little man, who will hopefully remain a contender going forward.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)